The old-fashioned radio with its big antenna has neither the convenience of a Bluetooth connection nor does it offer us much choice in what we listen to. Unlike the phones in our pocket, which - much like the overachieving classmate - allow us to stream our selection of music, watch our favourite shows, make payments from the comfort of our homes, and cater to all our other needs, the bulky radio still seems to have remained a favourite for decades. It seems like smartphones in the market today are trapped in a constant rotation like the repeated “flavour of the week” at an ice cream parlour.

In this rapidly changing, temporary world, holding on to sentimental pieces of our past, to a different time, has become an innovative commodity. Nostalgia plays a big part in the popularity of retro-tech. Nostalgia brings back the memories and emotions connected to our past experiences, which build the foundations of our present selves. In other words, nostalgia sells!

Youngsters follow trends not just to fit in, but also perhaps to find their own identity or a sense of individuality. This is why even vintage fashion has made a comeback in recent years. The youth of today love playing with styles that are comfortable but also deemed ‘quirky.’ All of these things have led to the infusion of retro-tech and styles into pop culture.

Technology companies are able to bridge the generation gap by pulling on the heartstrings of their consumers and making them yearn for an experience that they emotionally connect to. Millennials have fallen prey to the nostalgia trap caused by the familiarity of the unplugged real world. Reaching out to older devices with basic functions such as alarm clocks, cameras, gramophone, DVD players seems like an escape from the constant “tied-up” world of smartphones and computers.

Even with applications such as Grammarly that aid in the development of writing skills, some still prefer to hone their skills on an age-old typewriter. The film camera that should have become obsolete in this digital age has made quite a spectacular comeback with Fujifilm seeing an unexpected rise in the sales of Polaroid cameras in recent years. The music industry first went digital in the 1990s with the advent of MP3-players and later, iPods. Today, even with streaming applications like Spotify which study your favourite music and recommend songs and curate playlists for you, people still seek out vinyl records. This medium of listening to music is so popular that even the artists on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart release their music both digitally and pressed to vinyl.

Despite the fact that polaroid often looks blurry, the idea of being able to capture just the cherished moments makes them feel more vibrant. Even though the vinyl sound quality is nowhere close to being as smooth as that of a streaming platform, the ambience it creates is far more intimate than the latter. Retro products carry with them a unique experience, or as some like to call it, aesthetics.

The unparalleled artistry and the vintage vibe that the older gadgets offer are spectacular enough to win anybody over. Design is a palpable part of the appeal, and some designs are simply timeless. Even with today’s premier designs and layout, hefty old toy-like designs rack up thousands of likes and shares on Tumblr and Pinterest.

The thrill that the rasping mono cassette player and the rotary dial telephone elicits is directly linked to the aesthetic familiarity it provides. The happiness that sparkles with the coffee printed photos that give the vintage vibe of an old camera is another pleasure in itself. A pixel on a cathode-ray-tube monitor is far more artistically appealing with its soft low-resolution quality than a modern-day display.

Even Sony celebrated its revolutionary Walkman’s anniversary by releasing a modern audio player styled identically to its 1979 cousin. Compared to a practical individual, the ones seeking aesthetics are willing to pay more for higher quality or for a more authentic experience.

In today’s world, with advancements in technology inching towards a new peak every day, we still yearn for the nostalgia, for our innocent childhood when technology was as young as we were. The “outdated” tech is undoubtedly making a comeback, and the reason lies in the simple truth that humans want the excitement of something new and the familiarity of something old, and retro-tech provides it to us on a silver platter, waiting to be relished.

Sreelakshmi Ranjith