Technology is a great gift to give for the holidays. It can provide hours, and days, and weeks, of entertainment and even help inspire kids for a lifetime.
Last week, I asked about great tech-centric memories during the holidays, and answers included everything from old transistor radios to MacBooks, consoles, and operating systems. These are just a few of the great stories you shared, and each lives as evidence that there really is power in giving.
NES Action Set
It was 1989, I was 5 years old, and the NES Action Set was under the tree. I don’t know if I’ll ever know that kind of excitement ever again. I’ve gotten many tech gifts over the years, but the first great one is hard to top.
Remco Transistor Radio Kit
In 1956 my folks got me this Remco transistor radio kit; I was seven. It was a crystal radio with a one-transistor audio stage; you had to use the headphone. It required an outdoor antenna, which my dad and I strung up in the snow on christmas day. I spent the rest of the day listening to christmas music on the local radio stations. Later I heard a very strange signal, a loud voice calling “CQ”. It was a local ham; I tracked him down and met him, and he introduced me to ham radio, which has been a life-long hobby, and which guided me into a career in science.
When I discovered, on Christmas eve, my brand new Apple IIc that I would be opening the next morning…Yeah it ruined the surprise. But I don’t remember that bothering me. I saw it in a pile of “Santa” gifts in the basement. We had a big Christmas eve party every year. I was supposed to be going to bed at the time but saw my dad and uncle bringing in all the presents from my uncles car. This was during my post Santa days, though my parents still kept everything hidden. The only thing I don’t understand is why it wasn’t wrapped.
Boston Acoustics Car Speakers
When I was 16 in 1995, I was really into having an awesome car stereo. So I hinted around for months that I’d really like some Boston Acoustic Component speakers for my Toyota pick-up. I had two presents left under the tree, I won’t sugar coat it, once mum and dad didn’t have to get any presents for nieces and nephews; my sister and I got spoiled at Christmas. I opened one present and it was the Star Wars Trilogy Widescreen NO LESS on VHS and then I got to the last present. It felt heavy for it’s size yet, I still didn’t think that I’d be getting these speakers. My dad was a mechanic and he was from the old school. Meaning no aftermarket modifications. I slowly tore the paper and once I saw B-O-S, I lost it. Not only did I get them my dad set-up a heater in the garage so we could install them on Christmas Day no less.
When I was 12 or so, I had an Atari 2600 (actually the Sears Tele-Games version), and I asked for a bunch of cartridges for Christmas. My parents ordered them and kept the box of presents in the garage. On more than one occasion, when they were out, I went into the garage, got the cartridge out (Super Breakout was a favourite), played the game, glued the cartridge box back together carefully and put it back. They never knew I did this, and I acted surprised when I got the gifts under the tree.
Mine has to be when I was about 6, the Christmas of 95, coming back from visiting my grandmother with my sister and mother for the holidays and seeing that my dad had upgraded our mostly DOS computer to WINDOWS 95. New hardware and that cow-pattern trackpad, and coloured EVERYTHING. He even installed a kids’ writing program called Creative Writer (because I loved to write). Ugh.. I lost my shit that night. Good times.
Grew up with a single mum who at the time was working full time and going nursing school full time as well, so things were tight. She worked extra hours to get me a ps1 one year, and I’ll never forget it. At the time, I was pretty young so I really didn’t appreciate it (loved the gift but didn’t understand how hard it was for her to do that for me). Looking back, I feel greedy for even asking or wanting it but always makes me think about how much she would sacrifice for me.