The Best Tech-Nostalgia Stories of 2009

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Remember, back in the day, when cell phones had the same dimensions as bricks, laptops were unheard of, and Windows 95 introduced that newfangled Start menu? Back when parents got mad at their teenagers for tying up the phone line ("landlines," I believe they were called), people bought music on CDs, and "Google" was a misspelling of 10 to the power of 100? Ah, yes, the good ol' days.

The great thing about tech nostalgia is that you can reminisce to your heart's content without having to worry about branding yourself an old codger. I remember the days when my computer came stocked with an entire gigabyte of hard-drive space, and I haven't even hit 25.

On the last day of 2009, we thought we'd look back at some of PCWorld's best tech-nostalgia stories from the past year.

Gadget Autopsy: The Nintendo Game Boy

Gadget Autopsy: The Nintendo Game Boy
I got my first Nintendo Game Boy when I was about six years old: My parents discovered that the easiest way to shut us kids up on long plane trips was with a portable video game system. I spent many a long car or plane ride hunched over the tiny green screen, switching cartridges with my brothers and expertly blowing into the system when the cartridges didn't work.

In this slideshow, our resident tech-nostalgia writer, Benj Edwards, takes apart the classic portable gaming system (as well as some of the cartridges) to see what makes it tick. Did you know, for example, that some of the cartridges contain coin-size batteries for supplying power to the SRAM that stores saved games? (I didn't, but now that I think about it, this makes sense.)

Evolution of the Cell Phone

Evolution of the Cell Phone
It's practically impossible these days to think of leaving the house without a cell phone. But just a few years ago, that was not the case: Cell phones were big, clunky, and a liability if you were a teen. (Your parents could contact you wherever you were--how was that a good thing?) So how did we get from bulky bricks to sleek iPhones? This slideshow examines the evolution of the cell phone, from the 88-pound (yes, you read that correctly) MTA phone in 1956 to the first BlackBerry in 2002 to the first iPhone in 2007. And, to think: My iPhone 3G already seems ancient when I put it next to the iPhone 3GS.

The (Misunderstood) Mac Portable Turns 20

The 16-pound Macintosh Portable was the first truly mobile Mac, and the ancestor to the sleek MacBook Pro (okay, so the PowerBook 100 was the first real Mac notebook, but the Mac Portable was the predecessor to that). It featured a 10-inch monochrome screen and was four times thicker than the modern-day MacBook Pro. In this slideshow, Benj Edwards does what he does best with ancient gadgets--he disassembles it and shows us its secrets, including a 9-volt backup battery (the Portable never truly shuts down), a reconfigurable keyboard-and-trackball set, and the signatures of the computer's development team on the inside of the plastic molding.

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