Fifty years ago, there was no such thing as a smart speaker. So you couldn’t say, "Hey, Alexa™, play Taylor Swift’s Anti-Hero," then dance around the house as the music filtered through your house automatically. Back then, you had to go manual. That meant putting a 45" vinyl on the record player, or if you were in a diner or a bar, sliding a coin in a jukebox to play your favorite song. Ah, memories.
Imagine if you had one of those vintage Wurlitzer® jukeboxes in your basement. Wouldn’t it be cool to get that old technology up and running and use it to play music from back in the day? Brandon Lawson, the owner of four Memphis-area uBreakiFix® by Asurion stores, recently had a customer ask him to do just that. "He wanted to get his jukebox fixed in time for their [50th high school] reunion," says Lawson. "It was designed by his father and fabricated in the mid-70s—the first one off the line. It was incredibly special to him and his wife. I really wanted to help."
The customer made several calls after googling "electronics repair" before connecting with Lawson, who's been fixing electronics for 22 years. Most of the customer's options for repairing jukeboxes were located out of state—not exactly convenient. So even though he’d never worked on this type of vintage tech, Lawson decided to try. "I thought, if anyone could figure it out, it would be me or my grandfather,” he says. “He has a lot of spare parts."
Lawson made a house call—something he doesn’t typically do—to look at the machine and diagnose the problem, which took about 2 hours. He did the actual retro tech repair in an hour and a half. “There was a user’s manual, so that was really helpful,” he says. “The repair was pretty straightforward. I had to re-solder some cables and swap out switches and a belt to fix the sound. The customer was as happy as he could be to have it working again.”
Lawson and the experts at his stores mostly repair smartphones, and they’ve fixed everything from the original iPhone® to old flip phones like the original Motorola® Razor. Other standout repairs of old tech include quite a few drones and a 1938 space heater, which was a prized family heirloom.
When Lawson’s experts get a request to fix something unusual, they start with a group chat to discuss the repair. “We look closely to see if it’s something we can tackle,” he says. “We don’t want to set the wrong expectations for the customers.”
Lawson says he’s glad to have had the chance to work on the jukebox. "The only way you learn," he adds, "is by taking things apart and putting them back together again."
"We fix anything with a power button"
Brenda Johnston agrees—the most challenging repairs teach you the most. She owns four uBreakiFix® by Asurion stores in Northern Virginia. Back in 2017, a customer brought in something she’d never seen before: a Tomy® Omnibot® 2000, a vintage robot made in 1984 that plays music, tells time, and carries light objects like soda cans in its claw-like hands.
The owners stashed the Omnibot in a closet where it stayed for years. The remote didn’t work, and the customer had lost track of the manual too. "I thought, well, we fix anything with a power button," says Johnston. “I said it would depend on the availability of parts but that we’d do our best.”
First, one of the experts at Johnston’s store took the Omnibot out of the box. It was in mint condition, but there was corrosion on parts of the remote and the charging cable was damaged. The team took pictures and started their research. They found a new charging cable, cleaned the machine, and the robot started up. "We didn’t have to rewire anything,” says Johnston. "It was fully functioning, playing music, and working fine."
Part of the fun for Johnson was working with teammates who were born long after this gadget was made. "They have these great nuggets of information," she says, "that I don’t have."
Another challenge for the experts in her store was an iMac® G3, a desktop computer that debuted in 1998. They weren’t able to get the machine up and running again, but much like the Omnibot, the process was interesting.
Johnson hopes her next vintage technology challenge will be equally so. "We haven’t gotten a Game Boy™ or Atari® video game yet," she says, "but I hope we do."
Your tech. Fixed.
From sudden breaks to software bugs, Asurion has all of your devices covered. Schedule a repair at the nearest uBreakiFix® by Asurion store and our certified experts can get your devices back up and running as soon as the same day.