IT WAS a Sony Dream Machine, model ICF-C120, purchased in the fall of 1990, when I was heading off to college. At the time, it was the latest in clock-radio technology: a white cube with digital numbers and analog FM/AM dials. It didn’t do the things future clock radios would do — play a CD, dock an iPod, connect to the cloud.
But it lasted, making its way through dorm rooms, apartments, and houses, surviving so many falls from the nightstand that, by the end, four pieces of duct tape held it together. And then, one day this winter, it took a final spill and its numbers disappeared. All that remained was a lonely green colon, flashing the absence of time.
What do you do when you suffer a loss in 2016? You post a requiem on Facebook. The outpouring surprised me. College friends waxed poetic about their own ’90s-era Dream Machines. A former coworker confessed that she’d retired hers prematurely and never figured out how to work the replacement. We might love the next big thing, but we still marvel at a household appliance that measures its lifespan in decades.
Read the rest of this piece, originally published in the Boston Globe, here.