Peter Leigh has been around retro gadgets all his life and has seen many of these machines since their inception. He now runs a very successful YouTube channel with over 500k subscribers. Videos ranging from a 3D device that could have destroyed the Wii to his latest (at the time of writing) about a Space Jam website that just won’t die, he has earned him the title of Nostalgia Nerd. Peter is no stranger to writing books, as Gadgets, Gizmos & Gimmicks is his second book, with his first, Retro Tech released in 2018.
Let’s get one thing straight: this book smells fantastic! A true sign of a quality book. As soon as you pick this up you can feel the high standards with which it was created with. The cover has been painstakingly designed, with icons representing some of the gadgets on offer and a lovely pixel art background that, when you twist the book, catches the icons shining in the light beautifully. The book itself feels good, with some weight to it, with the mentioned cover seeming firm and thick, made of a material that gives it a nice smooth feel. The paper inside is of a good, thick quality, so there’s no worry of ripping pages while flicking through the book.
The past is such a wonderful place. It's filled with stories that intrigue, with memories that trigger emotions, and items that gives us instant feelings of nostalgia.Peter Leigh, Author
One of the first things that strikes you when looking through the book is the gorgeous pictures that greet you upon turning the pages. The high-quality images allow you to scour the gadgets on offer, and it was fascinating to be able to explore every gadget up close. The layout of the text and pictures perfectly complement each other, with an easy-to-read text size and font with mostly full-size pictures.
Peter has managed to put together an expansive list of items to cover in this book, starting from a 1938 Teasmade through to the Oculus Quest 2, with some items in between that I remembered and some I had completely forgotten about. Take the Questron Pen, a pen-like device that helps you interact with a real book by giving you questions for you to find answers to and having to press the pen on the page on whatever it was that you thought was the right answer. It helped you through puzzles too, all through its LED tip. I was not prepared for the wave of nostalgia that hit me when I turned the page and my eyes landed on something I haven’t seen in 40-odd years. This started me going down a rabbit hole of internet searches and videos on the Questron pen and living my childhood all over again!
One other thought that struck me as I read the book was how early some of these items were released. I thought I had a pretty good idea of when certain items were available, but I was surprised to learn that the first Discman was released in 1984, and Sony’s first portable minidisc player was released in 1992 (for $699!!!!).
Fifty years might feel like a long time in terms of human lifespan, but in terms of our word, our universe, or even the progress of humankind, its the blink of an eye.Peter Leigh, Author
Peter’s knowledge shines through in his writing, giving the reader interesting and useful facts about the item. Filled with personal anecdotes from his own history with these items, he makes you invested in what he has to say, even if you don’t have much connection with the item in question. He fills the beginning of the book with some lovely touches, including giving us a peek into his childhood bumbag and what we would have found, plus we go through some of the earliest and most influential gadgets and inventions mankind has come up with.
If, like me, you grew up through the 80s and 90s, then be prepared for the retro gadgets, gizmos, and gimmicks contained within this book to take you on a journey through your childhood and teenage years and will give you the tools to understand what came before those gadgets you remember. But, if you are a youngster and have any kind of interest in the electrical items that have made the technology of today possible, then you will still find something to learn and enjoy.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough, and it is a great piece of preservation that I hope many will discover for generations to come. The people of the future will find this a wonderful resource, to see where we came from and to find out where the genesis of their implanted TV screens or whatever piece of fancy tech they are using came from.
Gadgets, Gizmo’s & Gimmicks is out now and can be found at the publishers WEBSITE or in all good bookshops.