Awesome gadgets of the '70s


I've fallen in love with the gadgets of the '70s...i cannot explain it. maybe it's because most of 'em started the tech fads of the 1980s which further primed the boom of computers and the internet as we know it today?

Maybe it is because various electronics, such as TVs, Microwaves, Stoves, and the panelling of homes had that woodgrain simulation, coupled with the likes of John Denver, the Doobie Brothers, and Creedence Clearwater Revival that matches my love of nature and deer?

Maybe it's that i can find them for less than $5 at flea markets and they last forever? maybe it's how they're so retro cool and do the same things as most gadgets do today (without giving me a migraine and raising my blood pressure!)?

Maybe it's ALL those things!

either way, enjoy:

TVs started getting remotes and on screen display:

The Magnavox 'Star System' TouchTune Color Television--a marvel of techonlogy at least one decade before its time. crafted in a wonderous wood veneer, down to its huge brick of a remote control, this TV did what most do today--mute, on screen channel/clock, digital tuning, auto color. it did it all. back then, in the '70s, remote controls used a 9V battery and used ultrasonic (sometimes sonic) tones to control the TV. in fact, the loud clunking sound heard from the TVs during tuning and off/on operation (a large solenoid later replaced by relay banks) is what gave these early TV's remote control the nickname, 'clicker'

It didn't stop with this one though, i have one working example, a Sears Sensor Touch, that also has a working remote (RARE--they're usually MIA). there were other TVs using the same tech, although the TouchTune was the only one in the decade which had the on screen display, which is possibly the most unique--as it does a 3-D effect of panning and shrinking to nothing shortly after displaying it in huge simulated digital numerals.

The Sony U-Matic. the predecessor to betamax. i don't know much about these other than the GE Motor plant in town still uses them for training videos, but the Beta units used the same loading scheme, known as the 'U' loading scheme, which i think the name, 'U-Matic' came from.

3D Model Courtesy of Guy van der Walt

My favorite gadget--the wood veneer Analog Clock with Digital Display, commonly called 'flip clocks'. the imitation Digital...not only does it fit in perfect with my decor, but i cannot resist the animation they do. it's so cool how it's not digital but comes off as it. and, they LIGHT UP at night!!

They also have a very loud, obnoxious alarm that no man could sleep through, nor dare hit SNOOZE after hearing it--which works great, since i sleep like a dead man; including sleeping through the more common, softer "beep! beep! beep!" of the digital ones today...

I have a mini-collection of these and although most are bad, i have a few working ones in use today. i cannot resist them when they show up at the thrift stores...

Who can imagine the '70s without the glorious 8-track tape? aside from the lack of rewind function, there's nothing about the cassette tape, CD, or MP3 that cannot be done on 8-track, as it's merely a format. there's even portable players and recorders, which enable people to use line-out from a computer to record, say, MP3s, to a 8-track tape so instant '70s mobile player!

Don't leave out the kids! this was one of my favorite toys, a hand-me-down i played with often during my early childhood. notice the rainbow face--definite harking to the '70s...
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Fringe Reception

Super Moderator, Chief Content Editor
Staff member
re: early TV remote controls


Excellent post --- however ---

Around 1970 I had a (used) mid 1960's B&W Magnavox portable (maybe 19") I bought with paper route money and it had a remote control unit that used two tuning forks.

When a button was pushed (hard), a hammer struck the particular fork with a loud pop or click and channels advanced or the set could be turned on/off. I suggest that's actually where the term 'clicker' came from ... long before the 1970's arrived.
I am not too familiar with the 'high-tech' TVs of the '70s other than what i grew up with (yes, they lasted that long!) most of the sets used regular old mechanical tuners and knobs; i am not too sure if the remote-control TVs then and as far back as the 50s (Zenith Space Command pioneered the remote control and even infrared long before the others knew it existed) ever sold well.

I don't believe that some of the early ultrasonic and sonic remote TVs held up. usually when i come across one the remote is missing or the set tossed into the garbage because some part failed--usually the solenoid in the early ultrasonic sets got stuck and ceased the remote function--as most people today apparently need , so the set is given to thrift outlets or garbage dumps.

My Sears SensorTouch has that Problem occasionally, the solenoid getting stuck if the remote is used too often, making me pull the plug, smack the set to disengage the solenoid, and plug it back in.

To some people, however, the term 'the clicker' can apply to many meanings:

1. the loud clunking of the internal solenoid when the remote is used, usually on the two-button remote which only turned the set on and raised the volume and changed channels...the pattern is one touch of the power/vol button turns the set on at 1/2 volume with a loud clunk. the second press of the same button makes the volume decrease as long as the button held down, and the third raises it so long as it's held down, and fourth turns the set off. channel button cycles from first channel to last and repeats the process. very few TVs had the solenoid and most used relays later on

2. the Zenith Space Command and other sets using the tuning fork method of remote, which didn't use batteries--the remote was entirely mechanical.

3. the large remotes of some TVs had clickety buttons similar to the ones in the IBM PC Keyboards, and gave them the name as well.

As far as i know, if you find a set you're questioning, such as that SuperSet, and it's working as it was when new, over 30 years later, then yes, it must've been good. when i consider buying a thrift-store TV, i insist on testing it out in-store first. if i find one in the garbage, however, and it didn't work after getting it home, i don't lose anything trying :)
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I swear I have that flip clock someplace. I had it for years and took it with me to work so I had a radio. The light was blown out. I had another one like that I got in the early 80's, had a phone on top that really was not that great. Then came the digital era

Thomas G

I love looking at all the old radio shack catalogs from years ago, it was a great time in electronics......
Me too, some of their products were back in the 80's, especially the handheld and tabletop games they sold. One of my roommates had a tabletop magnetic football game that we used to play drinking games too. :thumb: