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GADGETS TO ASHES; THE LONG LOST GIZMOS OF THE 1980s by Perkal

THEY helped us capture memories for decades - but the shutter closed for good on Polaroid instant cameras last week.

During their heyday, they were a must-have gadget - and fond memories of them and other hi-tech gizmos are being evoked by 80s-set TV cop show Ashes To Ashes.

Here, JAMES HOLLAND, editor of gadget website electricpig.tv, looks at other forgotten favourites.

SINCLAIR C5

THIS electric tricycle was light years ahead of its time but fatally flawed - because the drivers' faces were level with cars' exhaust pipes.

This was disastrous with Britain's pollution-clogged roads.

Today electric vehicles are gaining popularity as eco-worries, traffic congestion and soaring fuel costs bite - but designers no longer make them look so comical.

PHONE CARDS

THESE were unique - a form of payment for a single purpose that also carried an expiry date to encourage you to spend quickly.

Loved by phone companies but despised by the public, it didn't take long for mobile phones to come to our rescue.

Shame these ignited a passion for pay-as-you-go tariffs which require you to buy 'top-up' phone cards.

BREVILLE TOASTER

SANDWICH toasters are a staple of British kitchens and paved the way for stand-alone cooking appliances.

OK, so yours is probably gathering dust at the back of a cupboard but without Breville there wouldn't be George Foreman Grills and university students would be one going-away present worse off.

ATARI

THE original Atari home entertainment system pre-dates the PlayStation, Xbox and Wii.

The little brown and black box with one-buttoned joystick was simple but is responsible for sparking the gaming craze.

Atari still exist but no longer make hardware, concentrating on games for mobiles and other manufacturers.

SODA STREAM

A FIRM favourite with economy-conscious fizz fans of the 80s.

Devotees loved adding the syrup first or holding the Soda Stream's button down longer than strictly necessary.

There is a new Soda Stream available which is for making sparkling water at home.

Dubbed the Penguin, it is aimed at 30- somethings with a hectic dinner party schedule and a craving for flavoured drinks.

CAR PHONES

THE sheer size and weight of early mobile phones meant they were not actually mobile, so manufacturers cheated and called them car phones.

Today few cars have phones built-in but pair with existing mobiles using Bluetooth technology.

BETAMAX VIDEO

BETAMAX introduced the nation to the concept of recording TV at home.

Without it there would be no Sky Plus or HD discs.

Its demise left us with VHS, a technically inferior format which only succeeded thanks to the porn industry's fascination with it.

Now we all know why our dads rushed out to buy a VHS rather than Betamax recorder.

SONY WALKMAN

THE Walkman lives on through mobile phones and MP3 players.

They introduced children of the 80s to a world of portable music taken for granted by today's youth.

Without the Walkman there would be no iPod, it's as simple as that.

ZX SPECTRUM

BEFORE this it was almost unheard of to have a computer at home.

The ZX's relatively cheap cost and ability to run programs in colour through TVs made it more accessible than anything before and an instant hit.

The aim of "a computer in every home" is often attributed to Microsoft boss Bill Gates but it was Clive Sinclair who made it happen in the UK, paving the way for Windows PCs and Apple Macs to invade our houses.

BBC MICRO

DESIGNED to accompany a BBC series on computer literacy, the Micro found a home in schools teaching children to type, stare blankly at screens and solve every problem by turning it off and then on again.

The Micro was eventually succeeded by Windows PCs and without it there would be a much poorer standard of computer literacy across the UK.

Mission accomplished BBC.

This article was published on Friday 03 October, 2008.

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Laser pointer and LED Pen in a beautiful wooden gift box

Laser pointer and LED Pen in a beautiful wooden gift box
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