What made you fall in love with electronics? We asked around SparkFun HQ about everyone’s all-time favorite piece of technology they’ve ever used. Check out their answers and take a walk down memory lane!
We asked SparkFun employees about their favorite piece of tech they’ve ever owned. Could be anything; a game console, a computer, or even the Motorola Razr they had in 2007. Everyone has something that got them started asking questions about how devices worked, or just something that holds a special place in their heart. Here are ours:
Sean Hollister: External CD Burner
My external CD burner lives in my heart somewhere between classic mix tapes and Spotify shared playlists. I remember buying those huge stacks of blank CDs and pirating music into my ITunes library (probably destroying our old PCs). The best part was that you could draw directly onto the CD to personalize the look of it too. Friends, crushes, family road trips… pretty much everyone had to endure whatever unholy mixture my adolescent mind had cooked (and then burned) up. Some of them still circulate around my friend group as a lasting joke and reminder of a simpler time – all you needed was Limewire, a blank CD, a sharpie, and a dream.
Lauren Gregory: the TI-89 calculator
I would’ve said the floppy disk for the meme, but I’ve never actually used one. The TI-89 was unstoppable, and I think I miss it so much because someone stole it from me in Physics 325 in college. The solver function? The rugged lack of a backlight? The ability to upload games? Symbolic integrals? Unparalleled piece of machinery. It was like having Python do all my math for me before I knew what Python was. You can even (kind of) run MicroPython on it!
Chris McCarty: The iPod Classic
It’s a classic! I made this purchase at a time in my life when I wasn’t making too much money, but the aspect of having thousands of tracks available at my fingertips was an amazing thought! To have entire albums from Streetlight Manifesto, The Mars Volta, Saves the Day, and more was a complete change from how I thought I could ingest music.
Rob Reynolds: My First 3D Printer
My first printer started something big: I’m still designing and printing pieces at least several times a week! I’m actually listening to my printer making circles right now, and it’s one of my favorite sounds 🙂
Dryw Wade: N64 and the Original Xbox
I’m not old enough for any earlier tech 😉
Elias Santistevan: Nostromo
My first gamepad! Used one when World of Warcraft was still a new thing.
Nick Brogna: Packard Bell Legend 486SX
My older cousin showed me BASIC and wrote a simple ‘password’ program with it that 10 year old me spent countless hours taking apart and putting back together to try to understand how computer programs work. Plus, it came with a CVGA monitor so I could play King’s Quest in all its 4-color glory.
Madison Chodikov: Clear phone from the 90’s
I remember going to my grandparents house and using this phone and just staring at it for hours, thinking how cool it was to see the intricate parts on the inside with all the cool colors. Definitely one of my favorite things we received from them once they downsized!
Molly Rodgers: The Jurassic Park III Dino-Dex (circa 2002)
From jurassictoys.net, “a Pokédex-style organizer that contains detailed information and graphic animations on over 70 dinosaurs. It comes with two games: Battle Dome in which you go head-to-head in a fight-to-the-death against another dinosaur and the DNA Lab which will let you create your own hybrid dinosaurs. The Dino Dex is also an organizer that lets you store names, phone numbers, notes, and there’s a calculator on there as well.” I was 6 and I used this thing until it died.
John Trepke: AKG Sextett K240 4-600 Ohm late production model 6 passive driver headphones
Made in Austria from the 80s. Can’t drive these without a desktop headphone amplifier! Still have my pair and use them at SFE HQ when I feel all audiophile like. Had these for about 15+ years. They sound better than most modern headphones. Being semi opened back helps with a clearer soundstage.
Susan Mayor: Apple Performa
My first computer purchase from 11/18/96. I recently found the receipt:
Glenn Samala: Atari 400
The first computer I ever owned. And yes … I also had the tape storage device like this one. Went to summer school computer camp to learn BASIC at Pace University in the 7th grade.
Close second for me was the Sharp Zaurus – (ZR-500) way ahead of it’s time circa 1996. It had email functionality (ableit through a sync function) and had hand writing recognition. Oh – and spreadsheets on a mobile device – mind blowing back in the day!
Michael Van Auken: X10 Home Automation Switches and Controls
Also, would love to see a series where we take old Archer or Heathkit kits, break down the original parts and instructions, follow up with how to implement them using modern parts and finally update them using the latest tech, for example an old light organ kit, how to recreate with current available LEDs and ICs and finally the modern version that uses a microcontroller, DSP addressable LEDs etc.
Bryan Hoff: The Original Nintendo
I had a paper route at 8 years old, getting up at 4:30am to deliver to about 80 houses. I saved up and was able to buy one in 1986. Fond memories of NES Baseball, Basketball, Zelda, Mike Tyson’s Punchout, and of course Super Mario!
Honorable Mention: The TI-92 Graphic Calculator AKA “The Grade Buyer”. When these came out, many professors didn’t understand what they were capable of. Many of my engineering classmates were putting full chapters from the text book into them, making all tests effectively open book. Since classes were graded on a curve, students effectively had to buy one to level the playing field. Hence we dubbed it The Grade Buyer.
Alex Brudner: GameBoy Advance/Advance SP
There’s a special place in my heart for the GBA because growing up I went on a lot of road trips and/or had to sit in places while parents/siblings were doing other things. However, when the SP came out and it had a backlight, that definitely changed things for me. Being able to play games in dark locations or in the car was a huge benefit without needing to have a dedicated plug-in light with a tiny halogen bulb in it. Definitely appreciated that they had backwards compatibility with GB/GBC too because those were some of my favorite games. Legend of Zelda: Oracle series, Pokemon yellow/silver/sapphire, Megaman Battle Network 3.
Damian Lara: The Dreamcast
It was my first console ever gifted to me, it sparked my love for gaming and obsession with Sonic The Hedgehog games. Crazy to think people are selling it for a few hundred dollars today!
Have anything in common with us? What is your favorite piece of tech you’ve ever owned, old or new? Let us know in the comments!