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These “Space Age” Gadgets Were as Hip Then as the iPhone is Now. How Far We’ve Come!

The world really spins faster than we know. Especially the tech departments. Case in point:

The following ads were all created in the 1970-80′s by the brilliant Joe Sugarman, whose company JS&A specialized in introducing “space-age” products to the American people. That was just 3-4 decades ago… and most of these products actually look so stone-age ancient now, you’ll have a hard time suspending your disbelief.

The ad writing is stellar and imaginative though; I guarantee you’ll have fun reading these. Just it’ll be a different kind of fun from what consumers felt back then, when they eagerly reached for their wallets while excitedly shrieking — “SHUT UP TAKE MY MONEY, PLEASE!!!” (yeah, people used to be way more polite).

I’m not kidding: most of these products sold *spectacularly*. Just ask your parents or grandparents!

Now, Put down your drink before proceeding. Or else you will soon find yourself shooting it out from your nose.

To make things easier for you – I’ve summarized what each product does, since it’s not always immediately obvious. Let’s see what we’ve got:

A FM Radio, shaped like a towel wrapped around your neck, meant to vibrate the sound directly through your collar bones (seriously). Despite the odd look, it was actually one of the first portable music devices with a decent sound quality:


A sophisticated check-book holder that you could also use to keep track of your bank account balance (not the actual transactions). Astonishingly, it would “keep your exact balance even months after you’ve last recalled it”:



A “portable” TV That’s actually much bulkier than a modern day DVD drive, despite what that sneaky lead picture suggests; screen looks about 2″ and we can only imagine what reception was like… but surely, it made the Joneses jealous:


One of the earliest home computer systems; it looks more like a glorified calculator, actually. BUT it also played video game cartridges and could help assess your kids’ math level:


A futuristic mousetrap that terminated mice using actual state of the art laser technology — ZZAPPPOW!!! — it cost $1,500 and came with a jar of peanut butter (the recommended bait). Surprisingly though, it didn’t sell much… what’s wrong with you, space-age America?laser-beam-moustrap

An expensive remote that  you could use to kick-start your car from up to 500 feet away. I really love how the writer spun the concept into a life-saving gadget that Mobsters could use to avoid being victims to those popular under-the-hood car bombs that were apparently all the rage, then:mafia-auto-gadget

A 6-digit calculator for kids, which the same writer tried to pass off as hot new novelty item for whimsical business-oriented folks.  (It bombed, BTW). For some reason everyone carried around a calculator, back in the day? Oh, but we’ve saved the best for last…mickey-math

Behold! A marvelous calculator that would store up to 20 phone numbers in its uncanny memory data banks! And that was clearly more numbers than you would ever need to recall, apparently. Does this remind you of that Bill Gates quote on RAM limits,  or what?



Glorious, aren’t they all? To think these gadgets were clearly marketed as the iPods and iPhones of the time… it really makes me wonder where things will end up in another 3 or 4 decades!

Not sure about how technology will progress from where we are now, but this I know: we’ll surely end up screaming at those modern kids of tomorrow that take the world for granted, with all those fancy gadgets that no longer make any sense whatsoever to future us. Right?

“I’ll have you know that back in the day, our phones really were plenty smart — and we never would have wanted them to be self-aware and semi-biological! And who needs personal assistant holograms, anyway? I still remember when I fetched all my news by typing into a keyboard with my own hands! I really miss that, you know?”