Still going


It’s the slowest news day in a traditionally slow news week, which allows me more time to think deep thoughts. Today’s deep thought: How many things that you owned in 1977 are still working and still useful to you?

If you were born after 1977, then think back to the deepest recesses of your memory for a similar object.

I just moved a couch that I bought in 1983, out of my house and into my son’s new apartment after convincing him that an orange-dominant, all-plaid couch never goes out of style. That’s about as far back as I can go to find a useful object.

1983 is six years after this country launched two Voyager space probes, which originally were intended to fly past Jupiter and Saturn, but worked so well that their mission now is to reach interstellar space, which is the space in a galaxy that is not occupied by planets or stars.

In 1977, the picture of the year was Annie Hall. Hotel California was the top song, and the Oakland Raiders beat the Minnesota Vikings in the Super Bowl, 32-14.

Voyager II was launched the same year Apple Computer was incorporated, and the Apple II computer was unveiled. Tandy’s TRS-80 made its debut, the Atari 2600 game system was first sold, and the Concorde made its first regularly scheduled flight from London to New York, and this baby was the Motor Trend Car of the Year:


All of those things are now, for practical purposes, junk. And yet, there is Voyager, still functioning. And this week it taught us that the bubble of solar wind surrounding the solar system is not round, but has a squashed shape. It’s an impressive thing, even though we admit to having no idea what it means or what its significance is.

Meanwhile, back on terra firma in 2008, the average lifespan of a cellphone is 14 months.

  • Tyler Suter

    I owned not even a thought in 1977; I had not yet come into existence. I guess I’ll have to wait until this nostalgic charter deems the early 90s a time worthy of reminiscing upon.

  • Heather

    Ah, but do you REMEMBER the early 90’s, Grasshopper?

  • Bob Collins

    What from the 1990s do you think will still exist and be useful in 2021 and beyond?

  • MomKat

    The unelectric potato masher.

  • Heather

    I’m pretty sure the non-electric potato masher predates Nirvana’s “Nevermind”…

    Have a good weekend, Bob! I *know* you’re going to be missing that couch…. 😉

  • nt

    The instrument is a testament to the intelligence and tenacity of the people who designed and continue to run it. There’s an old email floating around the internet about “real” computer programmers, a pertinent excerpt is,

    “Some of the most awesome Real Programmers of all work at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. Many of them know the entire operating system of the Pioneer and Voyager spacecraft by heart. With a combination of large ground-based Fortran programs and small spacecraft-based assembly language programs, they are able to do incredible feats of navigation and improvisation– hitting ten-kilometer wide windows at Saturn after six years in space, repairing or bypassing damaged sensor platforms, radios, and batteries. Allegedly, one Real Programmer managed to tuck a pattern matching program into a few hundred bytes of unused memory in a Voyager spacecraft that searched for, located, and photographed a new moon of Jupiter.”

    Tell your kids to be physics majors…

  • C Troyer

    I own a 1976 Kawasaki KZ750B (Two cylinder four stroke, not the two stroke) that is still running strong. I would argue that it has had a tougher time of it than Voyager. No rain or snow in interplanetary space…..

  • Tyler Suter

    The V-Chip my good man!

  • Glenn

    Bicentennial Quarters are still getting the job done; found three in my change jar this week.

    Note: I can’t see “1977” without thinking of Star Wars. That movie still holds up despite what George Lucas has tried to do in the years since.

  • B2

    A French press coffee pot bought for my birthday in March of 1976 still is used every morning that I don’t buy a latte. An ornate bloodstone ring made from wedding band after the divorce in ’77 still gets worn most of the time.

    As to cell phones: my 2003 candybar Nokia with the first phone camera still gets used (I have recently sold photos taken with it).

  • MomKat

    We bought an Olympus digital camera in the ’90’s. It holds 20 pictures in its high density mode. I’d post one but can’t figure out how to do that. It’s big compared with some of today’s cameras and very uncomplicated.

  • Linda and Larry Reed

    Larry and I have been married for a good 36 years with 5 children, all raised now. Some of them were around in 1977, as was our marriage, our potatoe masher, and several family Bibles.

    Lots of things have changed over the years but our marriage vows from our dear Lord have not and have kept us string.

  • minn whaler

    My parent’s aluminum rowboat.

    My grandparents bureaus and bedframe..

    all well, useful and much older than things built in 1977.

  • Mary

    I also was not yet born in 1977, but my favorite “old” object that I keep around just for nostalgia sake is my alarm clock. My mom bought it for me (new I think although she frequently trolls garage sales) I’m guessing around 1987.

    It is the very basic brown clock with the really annoying beep. It has been waking me up every morning for at least 21 years despite the occasional toss at the wall if I was too tired to know what was going on. I won’t get a new one until it stops keeping time accurately.

  • Frank Bing

    I was born IN 1977. What’s still working and used daily after abusing it throughout my 20s is my liver. A good decade-plus of binge drinking and occasional drug use thankfully did not damage this vital organ (as far as conventional testing shows to date.) I’ve replaced the booze with sparkling water, so let’s hope the liver keeps going strong.