Top 10 Gadgets Kids Today Don't Recognize
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Top 10 Gadgets Kids Today Don't Recognize

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Matt Klem
Kids today have it so easy! For this list, we'll be looking at items from days past that have been supplanted by more modern technology, making them unrecognizable to today's youth. Our countdown includes Needle Threader, Meat Grinder, Credit Card Imprinter, and more!
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Top 10 Gadgets Kids Today Don't Understand


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Gadgets Kids Today Don't Understand.

For this list, we’ll be looking at items from days past that have been supplanted by more modern technology, making them unrecognizable to today’s youth.

Do you have a favorite “old-time” gadget? Let us know in the comments.

#10: Washboard

For anyone born after the turn of the century, the term “washboard” might only be thought of as a term for cleaning a skateboard of some kind. Having been raised in a world where a machine can magically take care of your laundry, this old-school device would trigger a world of confusion. Still used in many parts of the world today, a washboard typically consists of a wooden frame, and a series of hardened ridges running from top to bottom. After soaking your soiled clothes, you rub the material against the board repeatedly, getting out whatever dirt may be upon it. Oh, and yes, some people do use it as a musical instrument as well.

#9: Needle Threader

With more schools opting to ditch the classic home economics courses, many kids today are often left without any knowledge of good old fashion sewing. Sure, there are plenty of hobbyists and others who keep the practice up today, but much of the mass production of fabric design has been replaced by automation. For those who do it by hand, they may employ the use of a needle threader, which does exactly as the name implies. The threader is inserted into the “eye” of the needle while the thread itself goes into the other side. With a quick pull, the thread is in the needle, saving countless frustrations of trying to jam that tiny fiber through a minuscule hole.

#8: Overhead Projectors

Replaced by smart boards and large computer displays, overhead projectors were as common in classrooms as chalk and pencils. The devices would project a large bright light from underneath them which would pass through clear transparencies. A mirror would reflect the image out the front and onto a wall or pull-down screen. Often seen in schools and boardrooms, they were typically used as visual aids to depict whatever topic was being discussed. With the introduction of PowerPoint and digital projectors, these old black and white devices are now often seen in locations with much tighter budgets.

#7: Rolodex

In today’s world, how do you store all of your contact information? Must people use their phone or social media lists to reach out and ping anyone they need to. Yet, long before the days of the internet, people needed a quick way to find the name of someone they knew. In the business world, the Rolodex became the single point of contact for everyone you could possibly know. Individual cards were placed on a spindle and sorted alphabetically by last name or business. A person could then spin the device until they got to the letter they needed, and pull out the appropriate card for whomever they needed to reach.

#6: Meat Grinder

Ever wonder why it’s called “ground beef?” It’s not because someone picked it up off the floor. Unless you grew up on a farm or work in the meat industry, kids likely have never heard this. Instead of slicing up the various portions of an animal, a meat grinder is often used to break up a large piece of beef, pork, or other proteins into smaller, more manageable pieces. Often attached to a table, or bench, the meat is fed through the top, while the user cranks a handle that churns through whatever you put into it. The screw-like interior would split the contents into smaller, far more edible portions.

#5: Portable 8-Track Player

With everyone carrying a smartphone these days, having your favorite music with you has become the norm. So it might be hard to fathom a time when LP records were the major player in media formats. Unable to play them “on the go,” the 1960s gave birth to magnetic media players, most notably 8-track tapes. Before long, car manufacturers were making them standard in every vehicle, and music became mobile. This was taken a step further with the introduction of portable 8-track players. Long before the Walkman came along, these handy little devices gave listeners their true first on-the-go music experience.

#4: Typewriter Eraser

Did you know that our modern keyboard design came about because of issues with the original typewriters made over a century ago? The hammers used to get stuck to each other, so the common letters got moved apart. But that wasn’t the only downside to these old machines. There was also no way to erase anything you had typed. Imagine writing a 2,000-word essay only to find a spelling error in the last paragraph. Thankfully, the likes of typewriter erasers solved this. Much like a file, they could be used to scrub a single letter off a page, allowing the writer to correct their mistakes. Correctional tape and even white-out eventually replaced them entirely, but they can still be found here and there.

#3: Credit Card Imprinter

If you work in any retail establishment, you might still be able to find one of these hidden under a shelf or desk in case the internet goes out. To record a credit card transaction, the cashier would pull out this clunky metal machine and place your credit card in a fixed position. They’d then take out a rectangular-shaped piece of paper, doubled by carbon paper, and place it over your card. Holding the grip of the machine, they would slide it over your card twice: forward and back. The force of the metal rollers going over the ink paper would “imprint” the card details on two pieces of paper: one for the store, and one for the customer.

#2: RPM Adapter

Although this one might be high on the list, there’s a chance some youngsters may have seen these given the resurgence of vinyl. 33 RPM records held a lot more music on them and so most players were built to support that size. These records had a pinky-sized hole, whereas the newer 45s had a one-and-a-half-inch gap in the center. As listeners wanted to hear their 45 singles on their machines at home, the RPM adapter was created. Typically seen as a small yellow plastic gadget with three arms, it fits perfectly into the smaller records, bringing all those radio singles into the homes of everyone.

#1: Slide Rule

No, we’re not talking about baseball here. Slide rules exist in many forms but the most common one is not that dissimilar to the wooden ruler you used in school. Often fitted with a movable middle layer, and a “slide,” the flat device has allowed users to perform simple and complex math operations for over 400 years. Using a series of mathematical scales imprinted on the device, a user can use the various slides for multiplication, division, logarithmic calculations, and countless other complex mathematical operations. They’ve now been mostly replaced by calculators and computers, but some faithful to the old technology continue to use them.
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