A Huffington Post columnist recently bought a pile of Buffalo News fronts sections from 1991, and there, amongst the news of the first Gulf War, and the Buffalo Bills first-0ever Super Bowl appearance was an ad from Radio Shack. Big deal right? Well, if you look closer, as he did, you’ll find that almost everything the items in the full page ad could do can be replicated by the iPhone!
There are 15 electronic gimzo type items on this page, being sold from America’s Technology Store. 13 of the 15 you now always have in your pocket.
Here’s the list of what items have been replaced by iPhone functionality, with the writers comments.:
- All weather personal stereo, $11.88. I now use my iPhone with an Otter Box.
- AM/FM clock radio, $13.88. iPhone.
- In-Ear Stereo Phones, $7.88. Came with iPhone.
- Microthin calculator, $4.88. Swipe up on iPhone.
- Tandy 1000 TL/3, $1599. I actually owned a Tandy 1000, and I used it for games and word processing. I now do most of both of those things on my phone.
- VHS Camcorder, $799. iPhone.
- Mobile Cellular Telephone, $199. Obvs.
- Mobile CB, $49.95. Ad says “You’ll never drive ‘alone’ again!” iPhone.
- 20-Memory Speed-Dial phone, $29.95.
- Deluxe Portable CD Player, $159.95. 80 minutes of music, or 80 hours of music? iPhone.
- 10-Channel Desktop Scanner, $99.55. I still have a scanner, but I have a scanner app, too. iPhone.
- Easiest-to-Use Phone Answerer, $49.95. iPhone voicemail.
- Handheld Cassette Tape Recorder, $29.95. I use the Voice Memo app almost daily.
- BONUS REPLACEMENT: It’s not an item for sale, but at the bottom of the ad, you’re instructed to ‘check your phone book for the Radio Shack Store nearest you.’ Do you even know how to use a phone book?
The total cost for the merchandise in the ad comes to $3,054.82 in 1991 dollars. (Roughly equivalent to $5,100 at today’s exchange rate.)
The writer mentions that there are only two items that couldn’t be replaced by an iPhone, and I’ll give him the “3-Way speaker with massive 15″ Woofer” for $149.95. However, I would argue that the “Tiny Dual-Superhet Radar Detector” for $79.95 does have it’s doppleganger in the App Store with the “Escort Live Radar” app. While not a true radar speed trap detector, the app does perform roughly the same utility.
It’s always fun to look back on what was “cutting-edge” technology a few decades ago, and compare it to what we use in our lives today.