The Best Electronic Inventions from the 70s

Thinking back on the 70s, some may want to forget things like the bell bottom pants and thick sideburns. But one of the great things we never want to forget about the 70s were some of the innovations. Let’s take a look back on the 10 best electronic inventions from the 70s that made us look and feel as though the future was now.
1. Pong
Manufacturer: Atari
Inventor: Allan Alcorn
Year: 1972
Coin-operated games had been around for a while, but Pong brought the video arcade game to another level, pun intended. Pong wasn’t intended to be a commercialized gaming phenomenon; its original purpose was to be used as a teaching tool for its inventor Allan Alcorn, to learn how to actually develop a video game. But once released to the public, this electronic rendition of table tennis had gaming fans worldwide addicted. Gaming companies also took notice, creating an arcade game boom in the 70s that still resonates today. Pong was the first time electronic gaming and sports had come together, ultimately kicking off what has become the lucrative e-sports industry.

2. Email
System Used: ARPANET
Inventor: Ray Tomlinson
Year: 1971
When most people remember their first time using email, they may recall hearing ear-shattering dialup sounds and the “You’ve got mail” sound bite from AOL; but email was invented a couple decades before then. Ray Tomlinson is widely credited as the inventor of email, citing his message sent from one computer to another via the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET). Before Tomlinson’s discovery, messages could only be sent to other users on the same mainframe. Tomlinson solved this messaging conundrum by separating the messages between computers, using the “@” sign to separate the user name and computer they were using had to be specified. By shifting computer messaging from single-computer usage to multiple computer usage, Tomlinson laid the groundwork for what was to become a revolutionary form of communication.
3. The Floppy Disk
Manufacturer: IBM
Inventor: Warren L. Dalziel (leading inventor)
Year: 1972
Our modern storage capabilities are literally endless, so it’s difficult to imagine a time when state-of-the-art storage was the 80 kilobytes floppy disk. Nevertheless, the floppy disc was the primary mode of data storage from its invention through most of the 90s. The task of creating this storage device was given to David L. Noble and his team of engineers while working at IBM in the late 60s. Multiple team members tested and contributed to the project. By 1972, the floppy disk was being sold worldwide and was the standardized data storage device for over 20 years after invention.

4. Cell Phone
Manufacturer: Motorola
Inventor: Martin Cooper
Year: 1973
Anyone who has been around long enough to remember the history of the cell phone, may remember the first commercial cell phone in 1983—weighing in at a hefty 2.5 pounds, aptly being called “the brick.” But what many don’t know is that Martin Cooper made the first successful cell phone call with a prototype ten years prior in 1973. Many telecommunication companies had attempted and failed to make a phone call through a cordless, mobile device. Cooper achieved what they could not by making a phone call on a prototype cellphone. Not only did he successfully make the first cellphone call, he made a jest at his competition by calling Dr. Joel S. Engel of AT&T (Motorola’s competitor) while standing on a sidewalk in Manhattan.

5. VCR
Manufacturer: Philips
Inventor: Multiple Engineers
Year: 1972
240 minutes of recording time was now in the hands of the consumer, thanks to the invention of the home VCR and cassette. Before the 70s, watching a movie was all about taking your friends, S.O., or the entire family to the theater to watch the latest blockbuster. Then the VCR by Philips became available in 1972, and the very definition of “home entertainment” changed forever. For fans of the small screen, this also meant no more missing TV shows if you had to leave the house for an event. The VCR came with its share of competition in what would become known as the “videotape format wars,” notably the Sony Betamax; a tape with higher quality and a higher price. Initially, Sony lobbied the Japanese Ministry of International Trade & Industry (MITI) to make Betamax the standard format, which would allow them to license the technology. However, JVC created VHS as an open standard with no licensing fees, making the VHS the no-brainer choice for distributors. Sony Betamax was ultimately done in by the higher cost and shorter run-time of Betamax.