Nostalgia through the marvel of modern technology

First impressions

Being a huge TV fan, and a lover of all things Christmas, we were intrigued by the idea of this app. It offers programmes, videos, advertisements and snippets of holiday fare from days gone by, starting in 1898 and covering every year since. Each year has a number of different videos, and many brought back warm memories when we saw them. We thought that the app would include all the videos, and therefore how much space was it going to take up on our device? But then we realised that it is simply a portal, offering the link to everything which then streams via YouTube. We settled in to see what we could find.

How it works

You download it to your device (which doesn’t take long at all) and then you get a scroll bar on the right with all the years listed, and the video screen on the left. As you scroll through the years and land on one like, say, 1972, the first choice for that year comes up on the left with its title underneath. It also tells you how many videos there are for that year.

If you’re not interested in its first suggestion, you can simply swipe the video screen to go on to the next one. Or you can just choose another year. The great thing is that there are programmes and advertisements from the UK as well as the US, so this app will be popular with everyone from California to their cousins across the pond. Of course the great thing for those in possession of an Apple TV or similar technology is that they can use AirPlay to send the videos to a bigger screen and then the whole family can enjoy them, whether they want to or not.

When we played

The first year we visited was 2012. The latest John Lewis Christmas ad popped up on the screen and so we decided to give it a whirl. It was the story of a snowman and snowwoman (is that the term?) and how far one was willing to go for the other to make it comfortable. It was a lovely ad, and transported us back to the UK and all the wonderful commercials one can usually find on the television at that time of the year.

After that we were keen to see what else was available. There were Christmas videos from Mariah Carey, back to the groups of yesteryear. Another John Lewis ad in 2011; a classic clip from Till Death Us Do Part in 1972 with guest star Kenny Lynch. On and on we went using our time machine to stop in various years. We stopped in 1969 (the year of our birth) to see what played that year, then sped on to find clips from seasonal All in the Family episodes. The more we played with this app, the more we appreciated it.

We also ended up sharing what we’d found with members of the family and friends. So many of them laughed at what we’d found, or in some cases, got teary-eyed at certain emotionally moving pieces (seriously, we defy you to keep your eyes dry when you watch that 2011 John Lewis ad).

In 1983 we saw Hall & Oates playing Jingle Bell Rock. 1971 had the first part of the Morecambe & Wise Christmas Special, and 1944 found Bob Hope talking about Christmas Seals. 1902 had one piece – The Little Match Girl; a three-minute silent film based on the well-known Hans Christian Andersen short story.

Some of the years had lots of clips, and others just a few. We spent ages going through lots of years, and would often stop to watch something. Finally we chose all of our favourites and used our Apple TV to send them to the television so everyone in the house could see them. One of our most popular choices was Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow appearance where he talked about Christmas and children. In that order.

Final thoughts

Suffice it to say that we got our money’s worth out of this. It is of course now January 2013, and so you might not think about downloading this, but as there are many out there that would love to have the holidays linger a little longer (and Christmas decorations should still be up if we’re going by the 12-day rule), this is a recommended app. Due to its design, we suspect that videos will be added to it over time, so by next Christmas there may be lots more to see. In the meantime take a trip through nostalgia and give this app a try.

Pros: Lots of variety. Programmes from the US and the UK. Very easy to use and cheap.

Cons: Have to be hooked up to the Internet.

Holiday Time Machine
Cost: $0.99
Seller: Original Victories, Inc.
Devices: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Rating: E for Everyone