From cocktail pumps to pagers: Ye olde tech gifts of yore

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Gadget gifts for affluent shoppers was the subject of this CBC News item in 1967. (CBC)

Fingerlings, Fitbits, wireless headphones: a plethora of choice makes giving the gift of gadgets seem like a no-brainer these days. 

According to the Consumer Technology Association, 68 per cent of adults plan to give tech gifts this holiday season.

But judging by CBC’s archives, gifting electronic consumer goods has long been popular, starting from when people first figured out how to operate a battery-powered motor. 

Take this video from 1967, for instance.

That year, the hot gadgets to “pamper your man” included electric cocktail shakers, back scratchers and shoe polishers — all of them battery operated. 

Electronic gadget gifts, circa 19671:52

Moving forward in time to 1985, who could forget that timeless gift — the solar-powered calculator? Slim enough to fit in your shirt pocket, but probably not very useful in a dark restaurant.

Or how about the mind-binding technology of an audio recorder used with a tiny cassette? Or a video recorder that could fit in the palm on your hand?

Electronic gadget gifts, circa 19852:49

By 1996, consumer electronics were taking off. 

Computers the size of a large anvil were now available, with about one tenth the capability of today’s smartphones. 

But let’s not forget the Palm Pilot, or the beginning of digital cameras. And, of course, portable compact disc players — now (mostly) skip-free.

Electronic gadget gifts, circa 19964:19

Coming up now to our current millennium, tech gadgets in 2000 start to take on a more familiar look. 

One popular device that year was the Blackberry pager, complete with rudimentary internet access — and a holster.

The device was popular enough for Canada Now tech columnist Tod Maffin to note how many business people were messaging each other during meetings.

“God help us if that’s where the world is going in business,” he told the now-defunct show’s then-host, Ian Hanomansing. 

Electronic gadget gifts, circa 20002:52

This Christmas, some of the top tech gifts include small electronic toys that wrap around your fingers, drones and home assistants like Amazon’s Nest. 

Fifty years from now, when we’re all projecting movies from devices embedded in our brains, how quaint it will all seem. 


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