Today, people can communicate with their friends, listen to music, play games, and much more all on their smartphones. However, before the World Wide Web, you had to use different devices depending on what you wanted to do. If you were born pre-Internet you’ll probably remember gadgets such as a Walkman, Gameboy, and Etch A Sketch. These nostalgic tech toys and gadgets are the inspiration behind London-based creative director Thomas Olliver’s series Re:Birth, a project that imagines how today’s favorite online apps would have looked like in the 1980s.
“I started to design these ‘non-connected’ devices to materialise the intangible nature of all the applications that have invaded our lives,” Olliver tells My Modern Met. “But I wanted to anchor them visually in an era: the pre-internet nostalgia with its iconic hardware, which has now become a symbol of my generation.” By keeping the same brand colors and logos, each retro redesign is strangely familiar. Music streaming platform Spotify looks like a green Walkman, Instagram is a disposable camera, and Facebook is in the form of an old-school pager. Each image is a visual reminder of how far technology has developed in just a few decades.
While many ‘80s kids are sure to remember their favorite gadget, for Olliver, you can’t beat the Nintendo 64 game console. He reveals, “We have kept a ritual to play with my brother on the Nintendo 64 at Goldeneye, the joy and adrenaline hasn’t changed.” If, like Olliver, you still have a place in your heart for the gadgets of yesteryear, you might be excited to hear that the artist plans to turn his designs into reality. He reveals, “I am considering to produce the series as real objects for an exhibition, I think the Facebook pager with the real message alert could be fun.”
You can check out more of Olliver’s imaginative projects on his website.