Posted tagged ‘The Economist’

The end of an era

March 15, 2009

Over a cup of coffee today I was  looking through an issue of the magazine The Economist when I stumbled across a news item which, I suspect, won’t make it on to anyone’s front page but which to me is a big story anyway: the toy company Fisher Price are set to stop producing titles for the View-Master. For those who have never seen a View-Master (and that may be most people reading this), it is hard to describe it in a way that will make it seem anything less than an antique and quaint toy. It looks like a plastic, brightly coloured child’s binoculars. At the top there is a slot into which you can place a circular reel containing small slides which, when viewed through the gadget, produces a 3-D set of images. You move from image to image by clicking a handle on the side of the gadget.

My generation of schoolchildren had a lot of these: a View-Master with perhaps dozens of reels, and these could be entertaining or educational. Of course in the age of the computer, the iPhone, the multi-channel television and so forth, this doesn’t sound like a big deal. But I still have mine (bought when I was eight years old), and a good selection of reels (some of which now have historical value), and when the recession turns into a depression and the power goes off, I’ll be laughing as I watch my private but still fully functional picture show.