Electronics History By MJS Designs: Celebrating 35 Years Of Electronic Evolution

Since 1976, MJS Designs has been providing sound electronics solutions for the manufacturing industry. To celebrate 35 years in the business, MJS has showcased the electronics history of products that made their debut during this pivotal year. Follow along as we document the unprecedented growth of 5 popular products from their humble beginnings in the 70’s to their current, high-tech state in 2012. With a side-by-side comparison of then-versus-now, it is easy to see the development that took place over the course of 3 ½ decades, while the changes themselves were anything but easy.

The Apple Saga

Then: The Apple I that Steve Wozniak built and eventually sold with the help of Steve Jobs in 1976 was a single circuit board. It was capable of speeds up to 1 MHz thanks to its MOS Technology 6502 processor. Wozniak received flak for not using the Intel 8080, which was the object of near idol worship by industry insiders.

Now: The most cutting-edge product to come from the Apple labs has been the new iPad. The product uses the Apple A4 CPU to process at speeds of up to 1 GHz. The iPad is slimmer, lighter, and more feature-packed than any comparable product.

Sony portable music players

Then: Sony’s breakthrough product of 1976 was the TC-205 cassette player/recorder. The unit was portable but on the heavier side, and ate batteries for breakfast. Multiple motor functions and a mechanical tape deck were thought to be its major improvements.

Now: The Sony Walkman MP3 player is the modern evolution of the TC-205. At the size of a deck of cards, the music player has a touch screen, 32 GB of storage space, wireless Bluetooth and WiFi, and an Nvidia Tegra 2 CPU.

Wireless Telephones

Then: The Portaphone debuted in ’76 and was revolutionary in the fact that it was wireless from the unit to the wall. The ad boasted in/outbound calling functions, 7-8 year rechargeable battery life, and smooth rotary dial.

Now: The Samsung Next represents the leading-edge wireless phone technology of 2012. This device can also perform in/outbound calls, in addition to being an E-reader, computer, tablet, and artist light box. A 1.5GHz dual-core processor powers through 10 hours of continuous talk-time.

Zenith Televisions

Then: The tech-savvy in 1976 watched the Montreal Olympics on a Zenith Malaga Chromacolor II, the ‘greenest’ TV on the market. The Chromacolor picture tube gave brighter colors, and the remote-controller for some models offered a 50% zoom feature!

Now: The 2012 Zenith 47” Flat-screen TVs are full 1080p, 10k:1 contrast ratio, which makes the 178 degree view look spectacular. HDMI, A/V, and USB ports make this TV sound like something from a Jules Verne novel compared to the Malaga of ‘76.

IBM Inkjet Printers

Then: In 1976, IBM introduced the first viable inkjet printer, the IBM 4640 Ink Jet. Continuous-spray allowed a rapid print speed at frequencies between 75-150kHz, but coated the whole page.

Now: The fastest printer IBM has to offer prints at speeds of 720 ft/minute. The InfoPrint 5000 Volume platform uses modern inkjet variable drop technology to cover every pixel of space.

What was once leading-edge and groundbreaking seems antiquated by today’s standards. While many things have remained relatively unchanged over the passage of decades, technology has refused to take a backseat in the restless pursuit of innovation. Several of the most commonly used products on the market, such as TVs, computers, music players, telephones, and printers have undergone such complete transformations that one could scarcely compare them to their predecessors. As a result of this unending struggle for technological progress, the world as we know it has been redefined by the products we have developed.