What is it about old stuff that makes us get nostalgic when we look at it?

I get nostalgic about lots of stuff – even stuff which was created before my time. Like this Lear-Siegler ADM-3A terminal, for example. Doesn’t just looking it at it make you miss the clickity-clackity keys of the old keyboards and the green hue of the computer terminal?

Lear Siegler ADM3A System

Or what about the classic Nintendo Entertainment System? I remember playing this machine for the first time at my uncle and aunt’s house when I was probably 6 years old. I remember being amazed at the lush 8-bit graphics and amazing beeps and boops the games made.

Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)

And sometimes, I even start to miss the sumptuous computing experience that was Windows 3.1. This was the first non command line operating system I ever used. Just look at it – doesn’t it make you pine for the days gone by when the Clock application could be considered a “feature” of an operating system?

Windows 3.11 Workspace

Has Minesweeper really not changed since 1992?

Combining the Old with the New

But nothing brings me more joy than when I see someone combine the old with the new – honoring the past but yet improving on it at the same time. It’s like saying, “Yes, you [nostalgic item] were really cool, and in order to give you props for your awesomeness, we are going to attempt to make something even more awesome. Most of the time this doesn’t succeed, but sometimes it does.

Here are a few of my favorite combinations of old and new.

1. The classic song “Singin' In the Rain” from the hit 1952 musical + robots that can break dance.

2. Classic Nintendo music + College a capella group.

3. The classic NES + Gameboy Advance SP

The perfect portable game console design.

Gameboy Advance SP NES Classic


Got any good examples of old and new working together? Post them in the comments!

(If you liked this, you might like Travels in Japan.)

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Feross Aboukhadijeh I'm Feross, an entrepreneur, programmer, open source maintainer, startup founder, and mad scientist.

I build web apps like BitMidi, a free MIDI database, and Play, a music video app, and Study Notes, a site to help students study better and get into college.

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