Ray-Bans

Ray-Ban sunglasses

The name Ray-Ban is ubiquitous, an iconic product that has become synonymous with the word eyewear. Ray-Bans have adorned famous faces on and off-screen for decades. In fact, they were one of the defining products in establishing the harmonious relationship between the screen and the economy. Not many people know how the simple, functional designs from Ray-Ban became timeless classics.

Enduring Fashion

Aviators were the first product released by the manufacturers of Ray-Bans, North American optical retailers Bausch & Lomb. These glasses were released in 1937 as the solution to banning the sun’s rays from the vision of U.S. Air Force pilots. Their lightweight metal frames were a revolutionary alternative to the fur-lined goggles that had been worn by aeronauts up until their invention. Soon after, the glasses were released to the public and the rest, as they say, is history.

Eyewear fashion changes with the seasons and some weird and wonderful trends have graced people’s faces over the years. Frames like Wayfarers or Aviators arguably endure because the way they look was never what made them successful in the first place.

Ray-Ban tinted-colored glasses

Eyes Are the Window to a Person’s Soul

Sunglasses were not even originally worn in order to protect people’s eyes from the sun. Chinese judges were the first proponents of rudimentary tinted lenses. These were not used to correct vision either — smoked quartz lenses were worn in 12th Century Chinese courtrooms in order to hide the eyes of the wearers so their facial expressions couldn’t be read.

It’s believed that Italians invented corrective glasses sometime in the 13th century by connecting two reading stones (early magnifying glasses) with a hinge that were balanced on the bridge of the nose. The first known pictures of someone wearing glasses appeared in the 14th Century by Tommaso da Modena. The paintings feature monks wearing pince-nez style eyewear in order to carry out their work.

Consistently Cool in an Ever-Changing Culture

It’s difficult to pin down the age, sex or economic status of a typical Ray-Ban wearer. There’s one word best suited to describe the type of consumer who pays particular attention to the style of protective eyewear they choose — cool. Wayfarers were released by Bausch & Lomb in 1956 as a plastic alternative to the metal frames that were available at the time. They had a slight cats-eye shape that was reminiscent of the Cadillac tailfin and sturdy arms that gave them masculine appeal.

They were popularised on-screen, with Bob Dylan and his rebellious brand of counterculture acting as an early purveyor of the sunglasses. This image of coolness persisted with Leonardo DiCaprio donning the frames in 2013’s The Wolf of Wall Street. 

Sunglasses have become an image statement that transcends an individuals political leanings. They protect the wearer’s eyes from glare while harboring a look of nonchalance and inscrutability echoing the aesthetic of the many famous faces they’ve adorned. The eyewear industry is now estimated as being worth $100 billion. The majority of sunglasses — including Ray-Bans — are now made by Italian luxury brand Luxottica. You’ll have to search far and wide to find frames made by anyone else.

Walkman

Walkman and cassette tapes

With so many people walking around immersed in their smartphones or lost in an auditory world of their own via a pair of earbuds, it’s hard to remember (or imagine, depending on your age) a time when nothing like that existed. It wasn’t until about 1980 when it became possible for the average person to carry a device with them in public that they could use as a private form of entertainment. The first device to make that possible was the Walkman.

History of the Walkman

The co-founders of Sony, Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita, were the inventors of the Walkman. Sony originally introduced the device as the Sound-About in the United States and the Stowaway in the United Kingdom. Eventually, they decided on calling it Walkman, a play on the name of a small Sony tape recorder called the Pressman.

It used to be that manufacturers marketed small cassette recorders and players to journalists, which is evident in the name of the Pressman. But then, in what became a turning point in the history of music players, Sony realized the potential of marketing a portable cassette player to ordinary consumers. They removed the record function from the Pressman to make the device smaller and set out to reach music lovers of the world with a new product.

The Walkman’s Rapturous Success

Sony was skeptical that their new offering would be a success; they doubted that anyone would want a tape player that didn’t also record. There was also a perception that people wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing headphones in public; it just wasn’t done at the time.

The Walkman made its debut in Japan on July 1, 1979, priced at about $150, and experienced explosive success right away. Sony sold more than 50,000 units in two months, far surpassing their expectation of 5,000 units a month. The original model was the Sony Walkman TPS L2. The portable cassette player was blue and silver, weighed 14 ounces and came with a leather carrying case. It also featured two headphone jacks so two people could listen at the same time. It ran on two AA batteries and didn’t have an external speaker. Sony went on to sell nearly 400 million of them in its various forms.

The Walkman’s Influence

With the Walkman’s huge success, brands like Aiwa, Panasonic and Toshiba entered the portable cassette player market, and by 1983, cassette tapes started to outsell vinyl records. The Walkman helped power the fitness craze of the 80s. It’s believed that the significant increase in the number of people who reported walking outdoors for exercise was due to the availability of Walkman cassette players.

Sony and other makers continually developed their personal listening devices, adding AM/FM receivers and putting out products that ran on solar power or were water-resistant. When compact discs arrived in 1982, Sony adapted and created portable CD players under the name of Discman. The company later went on to sell MiniDisc players and Walkman-branded MP3 players, phones and more.

While other brands may have surpassed the technology of Sony’s Walkman, the original Walkman is still revered as the ancestor of our current listening devices. As the first personal portable music player, it revolutionized the way we listen to music. And who knows? Vinyl has made a comeback, and some (perhaps overly optimistically) predict it might be the cassette tape’s turn next. Someday soon, you might be strutting down the street with a Walkman cassette player clipped to your belt. In any case, the Walkman lives on.

Apple iWatch

Man hand with Apple iWatch

Have you ever been at an event and desperately wanted to check your email inconspicuously? Or, have you ever been running and didn’t want to get out your phone to open your app to see your progress? Apple recognized these problems and developed a solution — a wearable device that would combine the sleekness of your watch with the capabilities of your phone.

What is the Apple iWatch?

The Apple iWatch is a digital watch that provides users with the time, delivers notifications from their phone, and helps focus on health and fitness capabilities.

Introducing the Apple iWatch

The Apple iWatch was introduced as a new product on April 24, 2015. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook introduced it as the “next chapter in Apple history.”

The watch came out four years after Apples founder Steve Jobs passed away. However, its been said that Steve Jobs was aware of the Apple iWatch’s product conception.

Apple iWatch silver casing with a black band showing activity on screen
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Apple iWatch Capabilities

When the Apple iWatch was announced in 2015, it was priced at $349. The justification for such a high cost came from the watch’s many unique features and capabilities.

  • It receives calls and accepts texts from your iPhone and suggests quick responses for the texts.
  • It includes an accelerometer that counts your steps and measures your body’s activity, so you can keep track of calories burned.
  • The back of the watch has a custom heart rate sensor.
  • You can use your watch to access Apple Maps and ask Siri for directions.
  • You can use Apple Pay on your watch.
  • You can stream Apple Music and Apple Podcasts from your watch, even while you’re away from your phone.

History of Apple iWatch Versions

As it’s been four years since the initial Apple iWatch product launch, there have been several versions released.

The main developments of the products have been:

Apple iWatch Series One: This watch did not have a built-in GPS chip and relied on the user’s iPhone being nearby to use Apple Maps. It was able to track your heartbeat, stairs climbed and steps taken but was not able to properly track distance. Instead, the Apple iWatch would store the data locally and would attempt to sync with your iPhone later.

Apple iWatch Series Two: In 2016, Apple announced the second installment of its Apple iWatch product line, which included a water resistance 50-meter rating for swimming, a brighter screen and a built-in GPS so runners can track their progress without their iPhone on them.

Apple iWatch Series Three: The main new feature in the third series of the Apple iWatch was LTE connectivity capability. This new feature was supposed to make the watch feel like it could replace your iPhone entirely, but multiple reviews stated that it failed to achieve this goal. Even the Wall Street Journal described the LTE connection as unreliable and needing further improvement.

Apple iWatch Series Four: Unveiled in 2018, the fourth edition of the Apple iWatch featured a bigger display screen and new options for watch face customization. Most notably, it became the first product on the market (without a prescription) that can take an electrocardiogram (ECG) reading, and it was approved by the FDA for this feature. The ECG feature can help detect a variety of cardiac problems in users.

The Apple Watch has exceeded most user’s expectations. It maintains the Apple track record for a sleek and modern design, and it’s great for those who are active, busy or just tech-lovers. The iWatch continues to develop with every intention to eventually replace people’s phones, and each new version’s exciting advancements bring the iWatch closer to its ultimate destiny.

Microsoft Xbox

Xbox One console and controller

There’s nothing quite like escaping into the fantasy of another world. And the Microsoft Xbox lets you do just that. Users can play games in virtually any category: shooter, car racing, life simulation games or role-playing games. The Xbox has become popular with gamers of all ages. 

What Is the Xbox?

The Xbox is a series of gaming consoles created by the American company Microsoft. The console requires a set of controllers and video games to be purchased. The Xbox product line also includes Xbox games, streaming services and the online service Xbox Live.

When Was the Xbox Created?

A team at Microsoft, made up of Ted Hase, Seamus Blackley, Kevin Bachus and Otto Berkes, pitched the idea of a gaming console to CEO Bill Gates in 1998. At the time, the PlayStation, Dreamcast and GameCube were all seeing massive success. However, the only other American company to try to enter the gaming business (Atari with its Jaguar console) had massively failed.

Microsoft intended to stand out by bringing all the capabilities of the PC to a powerful and flexible gaming system.

A History of the Xbox

After two years of production, Bill Gates first teased the new product at the Game Developers Conference in 2000. The final product was officially released to the public in 2001. The working name for the console was the DirectX Box. After some testing with focus groups, the name changed to Xbox.

The game console was instantly successful and generated extensive sales despite its high price of $299. A huge factor in the success of the program was its flagship game, Halo. The game was exclusively available for the Xbox and was one of the most anticipated first-person shooter games of the time. Sales of Halo broke all other video game records, selling more than one million copies in its first few months.

Microsoft then launched the Xbox in Japan and Europe but did not see as much initial success in international markets. In August 2002, Microsoft launched the Xbox Live Starter Kit. This was an entirely new concept for the gaming console world. Players were able to connect with their friends online, and they were able to download new content directly. The Xbox Live program had unprecedented success.

Xbox Console Versions

There have been three major Xbox console product lines.

  • Xbox Original: Released in 2001
  • Xbox 360: Released in 2005
  • Xbox One: Released in 2013

Who Buys the Xbox?

Microsoft released customer data about the breakdown of Xbox One ownership statistics. There is a close split between male (58%) and female (42%) ownership. The median annual income of an Xbox owner is $75,000, and the average owner is 33 years old.

How Many Xbox Consoles Have Been Sold?

Xbox consoles sold a record high in 2011 with 13.81 million units. Since 2011, the numbers have been dropping year after year. In 2018, 6.96 million units of the Xbox One were sold.

Xbox has had a place in many people’s childhoods. This gaming console lets you play with friends, lets you connect live with others or play on your own. It’s a great way to while away an afternoon in an alternate universe. The product has recently seen a gradual decline in sales over the years, but it’s also been more than five years since the Xbox One was released. With a new product line may come a revitalization for the console system.

LG TVs

man pointing a remote control at a curved TV

If you’ve been in the market for a new television in recent years, there’s a good chance that you’ve at least taken a look at an LG TV. That’s because LG has grown drastically over the past half century and become the second-largest maker of LCD televisions in the world. These days, roughly one out of every nine households has an LG-made television, making it an essential part of the world’s culture.

Where are LG Televisions Produced?

LG is a South Korean-based company that has made televisions since 1966. The company first started making TVs after the Korean War as an effort to help the country begin the recovery process following its separation from the DPRK. In that first year, the company was able to produce 9,050 units, but now it produces over 500 million units per year, making it one of the world’s largest manufacturers of televisions.

What Televisions are LG Known For?

LG is best known as the pioneer of the organic light-emitting diode (OLED) television, which has emerged as the most serious competitor for standard LCD televisions. Its light comes from an LCD backlight in the set, illuminating all of the pixels in the television. The OLED TV, however, gets its light from each individual pixel, creating a much cleaner and clearer picture.

OLED technology first appeared in the late 1980s in Kodak products, and it has since become LG’s signature offering in the world of television. One of the biggest reasons for its success is the ability to light up every pixel individually, which makes the screen malleable and creates its thin look. It also helps prevent the white dots that sometimes show up on older TVs because each pixel always stays black when it’s not being used.

If you’re the kind of person who really enjoys large-screen televisions, you’re likely also familiar with 4K TVs, a more advanced version of high-definition television. LG has been one of the leaders in 4K technology over the past decade, and by the end of 2020, roughly half of all televisions in the United States are expected to be of the 4K variety. In fact, as screens keep getting larger, it’s become much harder for consumers to find 1080p as the 4K continues to gain market share.

What Technology Have LG TVs Recently Produced?

In 2019, LG officially released a roll-away television that could be retracted into a hidden area with the push of a button, allowing consumers to hide their TVs and get a better view of their home and its surroundings. In a matter of seconds, the roll-away television system can either emerge from or retract into its resting place, making it very easy to make it a part of any home.

Thin televisions have been a large part of LG’s recent advances in technology, as the company preceded the roll-away television with the Wallpaper TV, which stays in place on the wall but is almost as thin as a credit card, making it one of the thinnest televisions on the market.

As technology continues to make leaps and bounds, it’s likely that the future of TV is nowhere close to being set in stone. As television continues evolving to meet the demands of a changing world as well as incorporate new abilities, it’s highly likely that LG’s televisions will remain along the cutting edge.

Amazon Echo

Amazon Alexa Echo Plus on a wooden table

In recent years, smart speakers have been changing the way we interact with technology. They’re paving the way for a future in which we have robots as home assistants. Devices such as the Amazon Echo can be a revelation for elderly or blind people by making everyday life just a bit more convenient for everyone. The Echo broke onto the market as a speaker/receiver that was controlled by voice command. This has evolved into some seriously impressive artificial intelligence that can provide handy help around the home — and it never gives you backchat.

What Does a Home Assistant Do?

The Amazon Echo is an amalgamation of two new forms of technology. The first is the voice assistant — introduced via the iPhone 4s with its inclusion of Siri. This technology was bought by Apple in 2010 for $200 million and was initially used to make calls, check calendars, send text messages and navigate Google Maps. In 2014, Amazon integrated this AI element into a wireless speaker equipped with a receiver for interacting with people. The virtual assistant was born and christened Alexa.

The possibilities for what the Amazon Echo and Alexa can help people achieve around the home are endless. You can now buy smart light bulbs which can be controlled by the compact, innocuous-looking speaker. The Echo is part of a growing demand for smart technology, such as thermostats, that can be operated remotely, televisions we can control without lifting a finger and even remote operation of our vehicles.

More Than a Passing Fad

The Amazon Echo has been firmly embraced in popular culture. You can ask Alexa to sing a duet with Ed Sheeran, and she will oblige. Amazon has integrated the system with a free music streaming service. You can simply command her to create a 90s playlist or a collection of the greatest hits by your favorite artist. This can facilitate a workout at home or help you get out of bed in the morning — it’s even an awesome party trick.

The Amazon Echo has been used to make the lives of elderly and disabled people easier. While the device is a highly sophisticated piece of equipment, the simple voice-operated system is easy to use. It’s less confusing than using a search engine for people who are less familiar with technology. The NHS in the United Kingdom has even joined forces with Amazon to deliver a simple health checking function via Alexa that could help take the strain off the health service.

Will Home Assistants One Day be Robots?

Alexa is operated by its wake word, Alexa. Unless the name is used, the speaker doesn’t record speech. As the technology is evolving, and the Amazon Echo becomes able to tell jokes and operate a microwave, a robot home assistant doesn’t seem like a distant dream. As people, we tend to personify things we spend time with and form an attachment to them. Hence, men name their boats and sometimes even their satnav systems. Some people even believe that robots will be viable companions and could help people suffering from feelings of loneliness.

So there you have it, the Amazon Echo is a futuristic and exciting addition to the home. It can be used for purely functional purposes or put to work as a provider of entertainment and light-relief. This type of technology looks like it’s here to stay and possibly set to evolve beyond our wildest dreams.

Wired Magazine

Vertical arrangement of Wired magazines

Paper readership, for newspapers and magazines, has declined over the years. As of 2017, more Americans get their news from social media sites than from newspapers. Some magazines that used to dominate the industry (such as Seventeen and Glamour) have decided to cease paper printing and move entirely to their digital platforms.

Magazines that have a readership that purchases their paper products are truly beating the odds. Wired Magazine is one of those contenders, continuing to thrive with both a digital and paper readership. Wired sets itself apart from the rest by writing about stories that the journalists find interesting, not stories they think will sell.

What is Wired Magazine?

Wired is a monthly American magazine that specializes in how technology impacts politics, the economy and culture. It’s seen major success and has produced spin-offs, such as Wired UK, Wired Germany, Wired Japan, and Wired Italia.

As of 2017, Wired has monthly subscriptions rates of 870,101, with a 9% increase in the last five years.

3 Wired magazines

How It All Started

Wired was founded in 1993 by American journalist Louis Rossetto and his wife and business partner Jane Metcalfe. The two wanted to create a magazine that would discuss cutting-edge technology and felt that tech-focused San Francisco would be the perfect place to launch the magazine.

Rossetto famously predicted that technology would be the “rock ‘n’ roll of the 1990s.”  He wanted to develop a team of talented journalists that would be there to record the development of the new technological era.

The Story Behind the Name

The concept for a tech-focused magazine came into fruition, with a detailed organization chart, before the magazine even had a name. The name Millenium was pitched but ultimately vetoed. Another strong contender was Digit; a combination of ‘digit’ and ‘dig it.’  In the end, Wired was chosen, as it’s double meaning was very fitting of the magazine’s subject matter.

What Wired Brings to the Table

The concept for Wired Magazine was to bring stories from the future to people today. Wired looks to discuss interesting and breaking technology. Perhaps most importantly, it doesn’t pigeonhole itself to specific categories or topics in technology. From film to crime to the government, anything that is tech-based and interesting is on the table.

Over the years, Wired has developed a reputation of trust amongst readers. Wired only uses credible sources in their stories and has never failed a fact-check according to IFCN fact-checker.

The Best of 25 Years

In 2018, Wired Magazine looked back at their top 25 stories in 25 years. The contenders included articles such as:

Some Wired Magazine Facts

With such a rich and long history of journalism, there have been a few moments that stand out in Wired Magazine’s history, such as when they officially coined the term crowdsourcing in a 2007 article.

The magazine tried to take the company public with an unsuccessful IPO that was timed unfortunately during the internet bubble burst. A second attempt at an IPO was also unsuccessful.

The digital magazine now has a paywall that allows readers to only read four articles per month online without a subscription. They then wrote an article about how the paywall was working for them.

Wired Magazine was a pioneer in seeing what technology would become, and the need for constant reporting on technology’s impact. It’s one of the few magazines that has been able to hold a print subscription model thanks to its loyal fanbase. And, Wired’s commitment to reporting on important stories hasn’t faltered in the last 25 years.

Samsonite Bags

Vintage Samsonite luggage

They’ve been charged by a bull, thrown out of moving cars and slammed in doors. Samsonite is a household name in luggage in part because of its memorable marketing campaigns. Of course, that’s not the only reason the Samsonite name has endured for more than 100 years and holds the number-one spot in top-selling luggage in the U.S., Europe and Japan.

The Story of Samsonite

Jesse Schwayder, a former suitcase salesman for the Seward Trunk & Bag Company, founded Samsonite in Denver in 1910 under the brand name Samson. The company originally made furniture and card tables as a family enterprise run by Schwayder and his brothers. After years of selling robust trunks and suitcases, the company introduced the Samsonite suitcase in 1941. That first model was called the Samsonite Streamlite, a new design in luggage at the time. It was made of vulcanized fiber that resembled rawhide, and its shape was advertised as conforming to the body for easy carrying.

Samsonite bags were wildly successful, and the Samson company officially changed its name to Samsonite in 1966. When Jesse Schwayder passed away in 1970, his son, King David Schwayder, was at the helm. Starting in 1973, ownership of the company changed hands several times after first being purchased by Beatrice Foods. The Samsonite brand was then sold to Kholbert, Kravis and Roberts in 1986 and then to American Brands, which was bought by billionaire Meshulam Riklis.

The company became an independent, publicly owned corporation in 1995. Today, Samsonite is an International Corporation and the leading luggage manufacturer in the world. Its main headquarters are in Denver, Colorado, but it has offices worldwide.

The Evolution of Samsonite Bags

Samsonite has maintained its position as the top luggage maker by continually innovating and improving its bags while maintaining its focus on durability. For instance, they introduced the concept of piggybacking luggage in 1989, which led to the industry-wide movement toward upright suitcases. Here are some notable Samsonite models through the years:

  • Silhouette: Samsonite introduced this line of luggage in 1958. It had a sleek, modern shape and recessed hardware that held up well to wear and tear.
  • Classic Attache Case: The company met the needs of the 1960s business executive with this durable, hard-shell briefcase.
  • Saturn: With the eyes of the world turned toward outer space in 1969, Samsonite launched the Saturn suitcase. It was the first polypropylene suitcase with injection-molded shells. It came in far-out colors like gold, red and dreamy dark blue.
  • Sam: This was the first Samsonite suitcase with wheels. It was also accompanied by some 1970s-appropriate risque advertising declaring that Sam sticks close, never intrudes and keeps all your deepest secrets above a photo of a couple embracing in what appears to be a hotel room.
  • Oyster: The lightweight, hard-sided Oyster came out in 1986. It was the first case with a three-point locking system, and it went on to be the fastest-selling suitcase of all time.

Since the release of the Oyster, Samsonite has continued to innovate and recently introduced the first-ever web-connected suitcase with geo-tracking capabilities and other smart-luggage features. Samsonite also makes garment bags, computer cases, sports bags and casual bags. You can find their shoes and accessories sold under names such as Hedgren and Samsonite Black Label. They also license the Samsonite name for use on products such as clothing and handbags.

Despite intense competition from cheap suitcase manufacturers worldwide and a rough period when the company changed hands several times, Samsonite is still going strong. It remains a brand that’s respected for its legacy of high-quality luggage and bags.