Gadgets

All the weird noises we miss from our old gadgets

Posted by
David Cornish
Published

Some Apple fans fortunate enough to get their hands on the new iPhone 7 are reporting that some models are emitting a strange hissing sound. 

Stephen Hackett, editor and curator of 512 Pixels, captured the following mutterings coming from his new handset - believing the sounds were caused when its central processor is put "under load" (basically, when it tries doing lots of things at once). 

It's certainly not a universal issue, and Hackett notes that Apple is willing to replace his new phone.

The thing is, it's barely audible in all but the most silent of scenarios. It's hardly even a thing. And yet, the frustration sparked by the notion that a piece of technology might make a weird noise got us thinking about all those beeps, whistles and dongs that all the technology we grew up with used to make. Stuff that would drive millennials to the edge of despair.

They'll never appreciate the beautiful silence of their gadgets compare to those of us who remember these gems.

A dial-up modem

"Right, need to check my emails and see if work has updated that agenda list. Best enact the modem prayer to the gods of the internet..."

And heaven forbid you picked up the landline once you'd established a connection. 

Fax dial tones 

Faxes: the digital equivalent of screaming information from one side of an office to another. 

The scream of a rewinding cassette

The louder the noise, the faster the rewind. That's how it worked, right?

TV static

Gather round children, and let us tell you of the dark days witnessed at the dawn of television.

Picture - if your mind is supple enough to allow it - a world in which there were only four television channels - only four choices for what to watch at any given time. Then extend the horror further by imagining an hour of the night at which television broadcasts would cease, when channels would briefly "die", going off-air.

Some played a still image until the bright lights and talking faces reappeared, but others would play "static" - a blizzard of white flecks and heavy noise. It was like being trapped in a monochrome sand storm. You will never know its horrors, and for that you should be grateful. 

The floppy disk drive

Ah yes. A noise that sounded like all hell was breaking loose in the body of your computer - as if the data stored on the disk was being physically scraped off for processing with a blunt chisel. 

Yes, it was annoying, but at least you knew your computer was actually doing something, rather than just sitting watching a loading bar spin endless lies about its progress.

The buzz of a VHS rewinding

This forgotten ritual was performed on your knees in front of the telly after every Friday night movie session, usually accompanied by realising just how dusty your TV cabinet was and internal reflections of just how much simpler life would be if you could rewind your own mistakes. Just us? Okay...

The clanks of a computer starting up

Shortlist

news straight to your inbox

subscribe to our newsletter
Read our privacy policy

Yep - this was the noise your computer was supposed to make. It sounded like there was an army of Borrowers working away in there, pulling levers and turning vast wheels. It also served as an audio cue to bugger off, make a cup of tea and come back in about eight to 14 minutes.

The beautiful chaos of an Epson ink printer

We're indebted to Sam Locke for recording this process for us - the oddly therapeutic gurgles and coughs of an Epson Stylus Color 600 printing a document and cleaning its print heads. 

Seriously, stick this on and it'll take you back to 1998 in seconds. 

The old school type writer

Okay, so this made a noise by virtue of its mechanical motions - but take a second to imagine a whole office of these things rattling along. The chaos of clacks and clunks and dings. The rustle of paper. The crank of winding handles.

We're going for a lie down in a dark room. 

Topics

Share this article

Author

David Cornish

Shortlist.com’s esteemed Tech Editor. David has a keen interest in video games, Star Wars and stuff that runs on batteries.

Related Posts