Vintage innovation: ‘It seems a lot cleaner’


By Michael Dempsey

Technology of Business press reporter

picture copyrightLinda Lowing

Air Vice Marshal Rich Maddison is an elderly RAF police officer with years of flying experience. “As an Air Force we are as high-tech as you get, but this, this is just me.”

He is describing a small computer system with a black as well as lime eco-friendly display as well as tiny memory that utilizes AA batteries to power a 1997 layout. It is a Psion 5 gadget as well as for AVM Maddison it represents his individual aeronautics background.

The outdated gadget is where he maintains his very own flying log. Hailing from an age when computer systems featured their very own programs languages the Psion welcomed customers to dabble with its minimal applications. He can take areas in its personal digital assistant as well as transform them to look like a pilot’s logbook.

Every pilot documents each trip in columns noting such information as the day, airplane kind, team names, function of trip, course flown and so on. AVM Maddison was additionally provided with a physical logbook however his Psion permitted him to construct an automated month-to-month recap of his flying hrs that can be utilized to inform him the number of hrs he would certainly accomplished on a certain airplane or with among his associates.

Today’s RAF utilizes its very own innovative flying program to assemble this information, however this does not have the individual bond AVM Maddison has with his Psion. “I’m on my third physical logbook and that’s what gets signed off every year, but I get a lot more out of my Psion.”

picture copyrightRichard Maddison

picture inscriptionBatteries last for months on Rich Maddison’s Psion 5

The AA batteries just require changing every number of months so he does not need to bother with charging it like a modern gadget as well as without a net link it’s rather safe and secure. It has actually taken a trip the world with him, usually when he’s supervised of a Puma helicopter, an additional old maker that commemorates half a century of RAF solution in 2021. “The Puma has been upgraded of course, just like my Psion!”

His logbook opens up with a photo of a Puma increasing to fly away, an item of visuals art he developed. This extremely individual program has actually been grabbed by various other Nato pilots throughout the years.

He’s satisfied with an apple iphone as well as tablet computer as well as confesses that the Psion “feels like a brick compared to a smartphone”, however the little flash drives that feed its software program are extremely useful. While on flying training in Norway AVM Maddison encountered an additional pilot utilizing an also previously variation of his logbook program. “I took out my flash drive and gave him an upgrade,” he chuckles.

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The Psion’s difficult key-board is just one of the factors this gadget is still doing task after virtually a quarter of a century.

Silas Brown, a manager in computer technology at Cambridge University, still utilizes a Psion to gather his ideas at occasions. “I am partially-sighted so I prefer typing with a real physical keyboard rather than the on-screen ones the world has switched to. Yes, there are Bluetooth keyboards, but that is an extra item to juggle. The Psion can display large print and I have written software to organise my notes in it.”

He has actually seen his other half looking for a power indicate bill her tablet computer system at scholastic meetings while his AA battery-powered Psion ran all week.

If the idea of a computer technology specialist turning to such an equipment appears enjoyable, Dr Brown indicate Cambridge’s abundant computer system background. “When you enter the computer laboratory the first thing you see is some old valves from 1940s computers.” Most of his pupils can not recognize his Psion. “Usually they don’t know what it is,” he states.

Their devoted proprietors see a winning mix of usefulness as well as character in these classic tools. And the destination is expanding. Ebay records “a revival in retro tech” with one vintage computer thing marketed on its UK website every 3 mins.

picture copyrightZen

picture inscriptionMore than a years old, the Zen Stone songs gamer is still adequate for some individuals

Alex Warren is the writer of Technoutopia, a difficult consider the Silicon Valley state of mind. “The book focuses on how we can limit our addiction to technology so I’m drawn to older devices that don’t mean people check their screen for messages all the time,” he states.

This minimal take on technology sees Mr Warren holding on to a little 13-year-old gadget whose single function is to play songs. It is a Creative Zen Stone MP3 gamer, fed by a micro-USB wire that takes songs off a COMPUTER as well as additionally bills it up.

“It can only hold 10 to 15 albums but you pick the albums you want and it plays them in full. It’s a tiny, pocket-sized version of a vinyl album player. I listen to them all the way through rather than jumping around with playlists.

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“[I don’t want] the disturbances of a display loaded with things on Spotify or the lure to stand out over to Twitter. It’s great to be able to lug songs around without being connected to social media sites or a phone loaded with applications.”

His diminutive companion is tough. Left in a pocket it survived a washing machine cycle and came out unharmed, shiny and melodious.

Durability is one reason vintage devices keep marching on. But they also allow users to shut down the mass of social media apps that sap our concentration.

image copyrightGraeme Patfield

image captionGraeme Patfield says his Sony Walkman serves as a tool for mindfulness

Graeme Patfield, a communications consultant on the UK’s south coast, finds mental solace in older tech. He is another advocate of musical purity via dated machines.

His Sony Walkman has been playing mini-discs copied over from a PC for nearly 20 years. “It seems a lot cleaner as well as sharper than anything else as well as it opts for ages on one AA battery,” he says,

He rediscovered it during lockdown and finds its physical routine summons up pleasing memories. “It thumps. You hear it rotate when it’s doing something.”

For Mr Patfield the mini-disc serves as a tool for mindfulness, a movement that calls for people to settle their consciousness in the moment. “You take a seat as well as concentrate on the one job without anything else taking your interest away.”

Clearing your mind can come at an attractive price. The average cost of vintage sound and vision items sold by eBay UK is just £37, creating what the site calls “a lasting as well as old-fashioned choice to all new”. Vintage tech is finding a future.

What’s the oldest piece of tech or gadget that you own? Why have you hung onto it? Share your pictures, views and experiences by emailing

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