What old tech product would you love to get your hands on again?

What is retrotech?

The technology industry is fuelled by innovative ideas and thrives on producing constantly new or upgraded products. Sometimes this forward thrust is in answer to a problem and sometimes it’s just to sustain competitiveness in the market place. An interesting wave of nostalgia has come over the tech world, which requires a different sort of innovation. This is retrotech and it may involve using current cutting edge technology to either ‘reimagine’ an old product or revitalise the original.

Retrotech and R&D Tax Credits

As with any innovation, there are many sub-steps to its realisation. If your business is involved in developing processes, materials or designs at any stage, make sure you don’t miss out on your R&D Tax Credits. The average annual claim for an SME is £50,000 and there is no monetary ceiling on claims from SMEs or large companies, so it’s really worth finding out which of your projects are eligible.

In the world of retrotech, there are many activities that are likely to apply. These include, but are by no means limited to:

  • Inventing new materials
  • Reviving old manufacturing production with modern solutions to previous problems
  • Fitting old technology with new hardware
  • Enabling old software to work in new hardware
  • New manufacturing processes
  • Improving performance and /or battery life

If you suspect that you could be eligible for R&D Tax Credits in this, or any other, field, then get in touch. We start the process with you by identifying which projects and costs are eligible. Then we guide you through the maze of regulations until you receive your substantial cheque. It costs nothing to enquire, so you’re not risking anything.

Some examples of current retrotech products:

  • Old keyboard

Lofree wireless typewriter keyboard

This is designed to sound and feel like an old typewriter, but has all the modern features to be compatible with your computer system. Their words, “Enjoy a beautiful wireless mechanical keyboard, give you a nostalgic feeling in modern coat.” If only it included the thrill of the end-of-line paper handle, with its satisfying swoosh and ping.

  • Old phones

At the 2017 Mobile World Conference, one of the surprise highlights was HMD’s resurrection of the Nokia 3310. There is a growing trend for people to want a phone away from a screen, combine that with tech-focused nostalgia and you get a buzz around an old phone. It still has snake, now with a colour screen and its reputation for being sturdy and having a reliable battery life is in-tact.

The 2004 Motorola Razr was second in Ebuyer.com’s 2017 survey which asked its customers which tech item they would like to see make a comeback. Who didn’t enjoy the drama of the flip and snap?

  • Old game, new technology

A Canadian IoS developer, Gabriel O’Flaherty-Chan has made a Gameboy app that can be played on an Apple watch, to the delight of many.

His reasoning, “Since getting an Apple Watch last fall, I’ve been disappointed by the lack of content. To help address this, I made my own game a few months ago (a 3D RPG), but obviously it still didn’t address the bigger issue. An idea I had was to port an existing catalog, and emulation made perfect sense. The result is a surprisingly usable emulator which I’m calling Giovanni after the super-villain from my favourite Game Boy game, Pokemon Yellow. Ironically, I’ve only ever played the game on an emulator, as growing up I didn’t have access to the real deal. In a way, I feel this is my way of giving back to the community.”

He details the development process in his blog ‘Making Giovanni: A Gameboy Emulator for the Apple Watch’.

  • Old Parts, New Technology

A company called Retrotech uses 3D printing and multi-axis machining to produce out of production parts for classic and pre-war vehicle restorers. This cuts the time, and therefore the cost, of their manufacture.

Why this move to retrotech?

The title of Mashable UK’s article on the subject offers one answer to this question, ‘Retro tech provides a brief escape from the depressing nightmare of the present’. Our flying car future is still out of reach and it is difficult to cut through the endless stream of bad news. It is easy to seek the comfort of those rose-tinted glasses and remember a time when life was simpler because we hadn’t yet donned the weighty cloak of adulthood. Nowadays, this includes nostalgia towards the technology of our early years, as well as the music, TV and films. The huge popularity of Netflix’s ‘Stranger Things’ is just one example of how powerful our collectively experienced memories can be.

It could be as simple as preferring the physical design of an older product, or harking after the seemingly endless battery life or robustness. If you’re hankering after an old video game or computer system, you can probably see one at the Museum of Computing in Swindon. Apparently, whatever exhibits are turned on, you can play with.

Whatever the reason, innovative minds will be applying their imaginations to continue this trip down memory lane while maintaining the connectivity we have become accustomed to. If you are involved in any part of these processes, don’t forget to find out which of your projects are eligible for R&D Tax Credits. It’s a future investment you can be certain of.


Jamie Smith