They say you never forget your first love, and for most of us at Digit, that came in the form of a gadget. With technology accelerating at a blurry pace though, we often forget what moved us to do what we do today, and we couldn't think of a better time than Valentine's Day to tell you about the first gadgets we ever loved (insert geek dating joke here). It's been 15 years since Digit came into being, but our love of technology started well before. So, here we show you ours and we invite you to show us yours.
Agent 001: The man with the license to thrill
This is an impossible task. I’m a known commitment-phobe (now, now ladies, hang on, I mean that only in terms of tech). I’ve often been called impossible to please, because I will always find flaws in everything. Even when I openly profess my love for something, I usually inject a "BUT" in there somewhere. Yes, I like big BUTs and I cannot lie...
Today I was told come what may, I have to choose something. I’m against this, BUT here comes the only logical choice:
Yes, I love all tech. And yes, every gadget I come across is like my first crush. My palms still get a little sweaty, I feel my heart flutter and I can gaze at this new beauty for hours!
Like all first crushes, they start out perfect in your eyes, BUT then flaws start making themselves apparent. As time goes on I start seeing them for what they really are – and sometimes they’re hideous, evil beasts!
For me, really, it’s just a question of how long a gadget takes to become boring or so imperfect that I hate it more than I love it. From past experience this has been anywhere from five seconds to five years, BUT they all go from amour to no more eventually.
So here’s to loving all tech in the moment.
Soham Raninga: When you love somebody enough
First Crush: Nintendo Donkey Kong II
I was in class 8, back in 1992-93, these were referred to as 'video games'. Back then, they were a rage and super expensive. Was promised one if i happen to do well in my final exams (which i somehow managed to). Cost them (my parents) Rs. 550 (equivalent to 20K-25K today?). These were imported and sold in grey markets, 'Manish market/Musafir Khana' in Mumbai were the places you scout for to buy these. Scoring 999, the highest possible score (if i can remember correctly) was my best moment. Took me 3 months. 8 months into the relationship, faced some screen issues, would not trust it with a repair guy, fixed it myself.
I still have it back in Mumbai, it still works. Nope, won't sell it, unless it buys me early retirement. Right now it stays safe with the rest of them, my first gaming console the Atari 2600 and a couple more.
Robert Sovereign Smith: A true story
First Crush: Digit
It was late 1998, and I wasn’t really a nerd or a geek back then, my only interaction with technology was to check my email once in two months – I didn’t know how to turn on a PC, barely remembered my password, and no one emailed me anyway...
I’d also just started dating a woman who would later become my wife. She spoiled me rotten, by buying me gifts (she was the richer one). I only remember one of those gifts however:
I remember carefully examining the packaging it came in. I remember ripping it open hungrily. This was the best technology invention of all time! It was all the greatest tech of the world, rolled into one neat package. Those who know me already know that I’m talking about Digit magazine (then called Chip).
I started by jamming the CD in and installing everything that it contained. A few days later when the OS slowed and crashed, I sat and read the magazine from cover to cover, at least 10 times, understanding nothing, but hoping that geek wisdom would somehow seep in. I could never afford any of the gadgets or tech that was covered in the magazine, but I lived vicariously through the writers. Eventually I would apply to work there in 2003, and got hired as a trainee...
To cut an already long story short, I’ve often been accused of “loving” Digit more than my family. That’s why it’s the obvious pick for my first technology crush.
For those who insist on a "gadget": my 2004 Palm Zire 72 was probably my second crush, but it’s a very, very distant second.
Siddharth Parwatay: Parwatay and the Beanstalk
First Crush: HCL Beanstalk 486 PC
My first love was an HCL Beanstalk 486 PC. The story of how this transformative entity came into my life is quite a strange one. The year was 1995 and as a 9-year old kid all I wanted to make my life complete was an 8-bit gaming console. But my grandad would have none of that. "Let's get him a computer. It's more educational," he announced. Little did he know right? (Yes I was one those rare brats who got a PC before a video game).
But the PC... Oh man she was a thing of beauty. The curves on that 14-inch colour CRT, the clickety sound of the two button mouse, the hum of the CD ROM Drive... they're all imprinted in my memory forever. The specs were almost laughable by today's standards – 32 MB RAM, 540 MB HDD, Windows 3.11 – but for that time they were cutting edge. Ahh the amount of time I spent on that machine playing everything from Prince, Dave, Paranoid and Wolf to games that were considered a little more rare like Jazz Jackrabbit, Apogee's Hocus Pocus, Raptor and so many more. Needless to say that my grandfather learnt his lesson quickly and didn't splurge on buying me anything ever again.
Jayesh Shinde: Innocence lost
First Crush: Audio Cassette Recorder
Its exact model name and number is lost in time, but it was a Philips cassette recorder (with two cassette slots) with FM / AM Radio support that stole my innocent heart. While I enjoyed flipping through the Videocon colour TV's round dial for switching channels at my grandpa's place, and they are some of my earliest memories. Zooming in really close to the TV's bulging display and observing all the tiny pixels in their colourful glory, inviting my elders' sharp rebuke in the process. However, my youngest uncle introduced me to recording tapes – right from going and buying blank audio cassettes, copying songs from existing Bollywood tapes (side-by-side) to recording live radio shows. Creating mix-tapes came next and of course it was a lot of fun! I remember when I created my very first "English songs" mix-tape... that was probably the most effort I had ever taken in working on something, from planning to execution. I was mighty proud of my achievement! Great summer that.
Sameer Mitha: Solid Snake
First Crush: Sony Playstation 1
My first love was the PlayStation 1, Sony’s foray into the world of gaming. Looking back, the story of how Nintendo screwed Sony and forced them to join the video game business is fascinating, but I wasn’t aware of it at the time. I was only 11 in 1997 when I first laid eyes on Sony’s beautiful machine. At the time, I was in awe of this silver machine, with a controller that had 14 buttons and two analogue sticks. It has a memory card to save games (something my Little Master Media lacked) and the best part was that the games came on CD’s. The system played my audio CD’s too and that was perfect. I played games like Tomb Raider, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, Marvel vs Capcom and of course my all time favourite game – Metal Gear Solid to name a few. Being the kid who was beaten up at school everyday I found sound solace in this virtual world where I could don the role of so many characters. One day I was a soldier infiltrating ‘Shadow Moses’ and on another day I was Spider-Man taking on Thor. Of course, this love affair was a short lived one as my drunken father mistook the console to be a toilet one night (in his defence, the console was on a stool below the TV matching the height of the toilet) but nonetheless, my experience with the PS1 is the reason I am doing what I do today. I knew then that whatever I did in life would have something to do with videogames. I have never felt passion for anything else in the world like I do for video games and even though this love affair began way before the PS1 existed I truly fell in love with the medium through the PS1. My PlayStation will always be my first love and one person who I think empathises with me is Kyle Bosman. Its ok if you don’t know who he is. Just watch this video.
Apurva Chandola: Hunting ducks
First Crush: Nintendo Entertainment System
My First Gadget Crush was the Nintendo Entertainment System. I really wanted one and my parents finally relented and got me one, in 1990 I think, and I was the coolest kid in my colony being the only one to have one of these. Of course, getting original games for this back in the 90s in Delhi was a problem, so we used to make do with the bootlegged ones. Through my first love, I was introduced to the addictive world of Mario Bros, Tetris, The Legend of Zelda, Duck Hunt, Contra, Excitebike, Mike Tyson's Punch Out, Baseball, Donkey Kong, Metroid....whew....thank you Nintendo for giving birth to the NES! Damn, I want to go back and play all those games again now!
Mithun Mohandas: Number cruncher
First Crush - Casio FX-451M
Two things happened to enter my Dad’s life back in 1987. The first one was yours truly and the other was a Casio FX-451M. The two of us wouldn't meet for a few more years but the day we did meet, could have in retrospect, been the stepping stone towards the mystical world of numbers for me. Our TV and Radio didn’t spike my interests as much as this little pocket-sized wonder did. It had the little numbers and the big numbers, scientific constants that I wouldn’t even grasp for 7-8 more years. Gravitational Constant? Planck’s Constant? Hot diggity! Nothing made sense back then and every other kid would have moved on to bigger and shinier toys but this calculator kept calling me back. I still remember when our science teacher asked if anyone knew what Avogadro’s constant was and I was the only one with my arm raised.
I’d spend countless hours with the device, sometimes typing out hundreds of numbers and playing around with different operations. The solar cells were absolutely enchanting, I’d fiddle around with it trying to find the adequate amount of sunlight and fluorescent light that could power the device. It’d be my remote control, my satellite communicator, my bomb disposal gadget and my tricorder as I accompanied Capt. James T. Kirk on his adventures.
Prasid Banerjee: Little Master
First Crush: Little Master Console
I actually got my console much later than my peers. They were quite expensive at the time (around 1996) and it took a lot of grovelling before my parents to get one, but there was no looking back from there. I learned to shoot pool through a game called Side Pocket, and would spend most of my time beating Contra. Then there were the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles tournaments that we used to organise amongst friends and a bunch of other games that you see in the image below. It’s been just about six years since I gave away the console to a younger brother of mine, but I kept the cartridges (image below), in the hope that I’ll buy one again, soon.
Adamya Sharma: Bling bling!
First Crush: Moto Razr V3i D&G Edition
My First Gadget Crush was the D&G Moto RAZR V3i. It was the first Gold phone I had ever seen and I already owned a normal Moto RAZR V3i at that time. It took me a year to convince my mom to buy me the Gold variant, which was especially designed for Motorola by Dolce & Gabbana. For its time, the phone was super slick and on top of that it was a flip phone, which in my books is still pretty fashionable to own. So, here's to you my Moto RAZR V3i - Thank you for being so pretty and giving me 2 full years of awesomeness!
Hardik Singh: Walking it off
First Crush: Sony Walkman
The year was 2003, my father came back from an office trip. Like all kids, I asked my father what he brought for me, and after a few minutes of searching his luggage, he presented me with this tiny Sony Walkman. There was a large grin on my face as I took the portable cassette player from his hands. I had no understanding of tech then. I was not interested in TV shows apart from the cartoons I watched and had no idea about computers. I was only into music, and this Sony Walkman became my first love.
While music always played at my home, it was what my father listened to on the small 2-in-1 we had at the time. I was busy listening to Creed, Five For Fighting, Avril Lavigne, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Lucky Ali on my Walkman. They were all I had in the cassettes that I got as gifts.
Also, here is a little fun fact about the Walkman. When Sony was pondering with the idea of making a portable music player, their market research showed that such a device would not be successful. But Sony took the risk and went ahead with its development, the rest, as they say, is history. Ever wondered what would happen if the Walkman didn't exist?
Souvik Das: The one that got away
First Crush: Nokia 9210 Communicator
My first gadget crush was actually something that I never had. I was 7, and my father used to own the Nokia 5110, so all that I ever knew about mobile phones back then was that. Anyway, one of my father's friends came over to our place one evening for dinner, and he had this device that I had only seen once at a mobile shop in the neighbourhood where I lived. It was the Nokia 9210 Communicator. She was unbelievable to my eyes, and to my astonishment, you could flip the device open (like a laptop), and she had a 4.5-inch colour display! I had no idea about what the processor was, or how much storage there was, or anything. On the Nokia 9210 Communicator, you could actually connect to the Internet (I had a dial-up connection back then), check emails, and even access the Internet! There was even a separate memory card in the phone (16MB MMC), and to top it all, a full-fledged keyboard inside, with a tiny monochrome display and an alphanumeric keypad outside. I have obscure memories of a game that was there, something that resembled Minesweeper, if I remember correctly. She drove me crazy, but back in 2000, paying over Rs. 35,000 for a phone was way beyond normal expectations. I only kept gazing at she, and go mad whenever I even saw her through a showroom's glass window.
Pity they don't make one like her anymore.
Shrey Pacheco: A picture is worth a thousand words
First Crush: Television with built-in NES
The saddest part about my first gadget crush is that I cannot even remember her name. All I remember is that she was a TV with a built in Nintendo Entertainment System and a wireless controller with an IR Blaster. She was the one who introduced me to the world of video games when I was about five years old. What I most fondly remember though are the games I played on it. It had a 64-in-1 video game cartridge that let me play classics like Super Mario Bros, Donkey Kong, Battle City, Adventure Island, and more. The best part is that she wasn’t even mine! She belonged to a family friend and by the time I grew old enough to read her name, the other family had moved out. The only thing left is one solitary photo of us together
Hari Narayana Pentakota: Two in a row
First Crush: Handheld Video Games
The first gizmo I ever loved was my handheld video game (I forget the name), on which I used to play Tetris. It was my first crush and it took some effort, to convince my father to part with his hard earned money to buy me one of these. I’ve bought a variety of handheld devices since then, but that video game remains my first crush till date.
There was also the Sony Ericsson J230i mobile phone that could play FM radion without a headset. I spent whole nights on the roof, watching the stars and listening to music on my phone. It was a gift from my mother, who continues to give me some things, even though I can buy them myself now.