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Jessica Wiant

Gadgets from your childhood date you

Undoubtedly, all the Santas out there are well on their way toward sorting through holiday wish lists by now.

The more organized ones might even have wrapped up shopping over the weekend. As for me, about as far as I've gotten is browsing once more through the thick catalogs and sales ads brimming with color photos of the season's hottest toys.

I managed to ignore them for years, but with a 1-year-old in the picture, toys are once more a part of life.

As I browsed through the pages recently, I was shocked to discover just how much things have changed since I last made my own list for Santa.

When I was first introduced to video games, for example, it involved pushing up, down, right, left and A, B on a Nintendo controller -- or using an Atari joystick. To get the games to work, you had to blow on them, jiggle them into just the right spot while pushing them down into the console or stick little pieces of paper in there to align everything just enough to get a picture.
If you had told me then that when I grew up there would be a video game system that didn't even have a controller, but instead a sensor that tracks your body movements "making you the controller," well, I just don't know if I could have even imagined it.

Yet, that's what the Xbox 360 with Kinect does, apparently.
Other items I see in the catalogs are like mini laptop computers, or kid versions of Kindles and other e-readers. Undoubtedly, some of the more literary-minded young adults might be asking Santa for the Kindle itself.

If you had told me as I folded down the page to mark my place in "Little Women," or one of the books in R.L. Stine's "Fear Street" series, that there would be a little device that could instantly download a book and that at the push of a button you could highlight a favorite passage or look up the definition of a word, I couldn't have imagined that either.

I'm sure lots of kids also wrote Santa for an iPod, if they don't have one already.
When I was just old enough to really start listening to music, I'd listen to Casey Kasem's "American Top 40" on Sunday mornings, which was generally predictable enough that I could have the cassette tape at the right place and my finger on the "record" button in time to have my own copy of all my favorite songs.

I can remember when CDs first started spreading, my parents bought me one for Christmas -- Wilson Phillips -- and I was totally disappointed because aside from the one stereo at home in the living room, I had no way to even listen to it.

Now, kids even want and get their own computers. The first computer in my house was one I worked after school at Pizza Hut to raise the funds for. I paid over $1,000 for a desktop with only a fraction of the capabilities that a $300 laptop now offers.

The funny thing is that I'm not even that old, yet. But I can see it now that in the Christmases to come, to my son I will be ancient.

• Contact Jessica Wiant at jwiant@nvdaily.com.


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