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7 Gadgets Retrofitted for the Future

By Diane Bullock

NEW YORK ( Minyanville) -- Imagine if the phrase "Everything old is new again" applied to technology -- that consumers suddenly grew bored with intuitive design and began to hunger for, say, the touch of a bulky button or the sound of a dial-up modem. Well, as it turns out, gadget manufacturers have found a niche market in tech nostalgia.

56K Modem Simulators

Maybe it's just me but the screeches, pops, and hisses of the Internet connecting of yore isn't the stuff of wistful memories. They're the tech equivalent of nails scraping on a chalkboard. I don't fondly recall the carpal-tunnel-inducing exercise of clicking the "Connect" button over and over while competing with other users for server space on what was then called America Online (AOL). Of course, once you actually made it onto the World Wide Web, you barely had time to type in your Lycos search before the overloaded AOL call center booted you right off. That "Always Offline" nickname stuck for good reason.

But for those who find the silence of broadband and Wi-Fi deafening, those old '90s sounds are still just a click away. offers a free Wav file download of the dial-up sound effect and Lazylaces brought an old US Robotics modem back to life -- complete with blinking lights.

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Hands-free, schmands free. Wireless, schmireless. Sleek, schm -- well, you get the idea.

If you need an excuse for keeping that vintage telephone table or are just looking for a decent bicep workout, an Etsy store called Freeland Studios has you covered. The iRetrofone is a 1950s-style telephone base, hand-sculpted in heavy-duty, half-inch thick urethane resin that acts not only as a docking and synching station for the iPhone (AAPL), but an actual conduit for communication.

But this throwback product is actually a down-date from the previously released Novophone. A corded handset accessory that plugs into the common cell phone, the Novophone may not fit in your pocket, but it's at least portable enough for a messenger bag.

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