Back to the Future

An e-store dedicated to the tech toys of yesteryear

By The Editors
December 2, 2015 9:00 am

Technology is brilliant … if frustrating as hell.

Not that we should complain. As Louis CK once opined, “Everything’s amazing right now and nobody’s happy.

So today, let’s take a moment to honor the gadgets of Christmases past.

Enter: Future Forms. One-part online museum, one-part best gadget thrift store in the world. All parts ode to the tech of Christmases past.

Started by SF resident Mark Edelsberg, Future Forms devotes itself to literal Space Age tech, as well as the works and 10 design principles of Dieter Ram (design should be innovative, unobtrusive, etc.).

“I was always attracted to mid-century design because of its simplified forms, natural materials and designs that appear to be both natural and man-made,” Edelsberg tells us. “Space Age design takes those mid-century principles and adds some elements of optimism, playfulness and faith in technology.

Edelsberg sources his Braun and Brionvega items at flea markets, consignments shops and online.

And you get to enjoy them. Started as a blog, FF has recently grown into a full-blown nostalgia-friendly storefront. You can browse his items by category (clocks, 8-track players, novelty), brand or even color.

As for buying them: A dedicated e-store is coming soon. Until then, Edelsberg currently lists what he has in stock on the site — sans prices — and either communicates with interested buyers via email or points them to his listings on eBay and Etsy.

Some items contain histories, others links to ancient newspaper articles with the original ads for the products. Others still are a work in progress.

Another option is to rent. Edelsberg can ship his inventory anywhere in the U.S. for 20% of the sale price per week.

A few of the items we dug:

The Brionvega RR 126, a 1965 beaut of a sound system informed by the works of Italian industrial designers and architects Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni.

The Panasonic “Orbitel” television, an early ‘70s, eyeball-shaped five-inch screen that evokes the era’s space race (it also pivots 180 degrees).

The Braun D300 Slide, a heavy industrial slide projector that brings a tactile joy to old photos (no Instagram required).

Admittedly, the stuff for sale is dominated by travel clocks, AM radios and calculators, plus odder, more forgotten items like thermometer radios and pillow speakers (check out FF’s blog for even stranger tech fails, like a “Bone Fone” AM/FM radio that wrapped around your neck and used your vertebrae to transmit sound).

Tech with a human touch? Still sounds amazing.

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