Friday, July 13, 2007

Old Robots

The picture just goes to show that people have been making a living selling gussied up scam-machines marketed as "intelligent robots" for centuries. Seen above, the famous Mechanical Turk which actually had a midget inside to fool suckers into thinking it could play chess through clockwork.

The robots at The Old Robot's Website are a more modern type of scam machine. These were marketed in the 80's and 90's as intelligent toys, but they were mostly a collection of pretty useless games without any real intelligence.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Fireball pinball machine

Fireball by Bally was the first pinball machine to ever employ a whirlwind spinner. It's challenging but very fun to play, and the spinner really adds an element of randomness that was missing from the game before this feature was created.

New Coke Classic design is old

Proving that Good Old-Fashioned design work beats fancy new graphics any day. One features actual design while the other is simply graphic.

Proof that addition by subtraction really works. Sometimes you need to strip away non-essential elements to get to the core of what makes the product design work. The only thing I quibble with is the use of a modern looking sans serif font for the word "classic", but it's still worlds better that that overwrought graphic explosion on the left.

The Underwood No. 5 typewriter

The Underwood No. 5 typewriting machine embodies the spirit of Good Old-Fashioned in that it's not just an old thing, it's a very well-made and successful old thing. An old thing that helped define what it means to be a successful product.

From the website:
When most people think "old typewriter," they picture something much like the Underwood No. 5. Why? Because this is the most successful typewriter design in history. Appearing shortly before 1900, the Underwood established the stereotype of a typewriter until the introduction of the IBM Selectric in 1961. When the Underwood was first introduced, it was only one of hundreds of competing and extremely varied typewriter designs. But by 1920, almost every typewriter imitated the Underwood.

The interesting thing is that the No. 5 was not superior in all ways to other typewriters, but it hit that sweet spot of key features, standards adherence, and technical innovation that led it to dominate and define it's industry.

Think of it as the Ipod of typewriters. The Ipod doesn't have all of the features of some of the earliest portable digital music players, but it hit the sweet spot and owns the lion's share of the industry.