Maggie and Lauren, two loyal readers, sponsor a weekly blog hop called Throwback Thursday, and since they’re so good about reading, I thought I’d play along. Follow the link above to Maggie’s place to find all the rules. This week, the questions all have to deal with technology….
What kind of technology existed around your house as a child? Really, not a whole lot. I can’t recall if we had a radio, but I do know we had a TV. I forget the brand, but it looked like a piece of furniture. In fact, when we were done with it as a TV, I think we turned it into a bar.
My grandmother (Mom’s mother, Walkie) died on New Year’s Day 1962, and the TV she watched while she was laid up in the bed was a Zenith. Big steel box, really. The picture would get all screwed up on it, and when people would offer to fix it, Walkie would say "Leave it, Bunny (my mother) will be here soon and she knows what to do." When Mom would get to their house, she would perform "percussive maintenance," which is to say she hit it on the top and side, and the picture would fix itself, as if by magic. After Walkie died and my grandfather remarried, we got the TV. It had the standard channels 2-13 plus U, where you would turn if you had a UHF converter, which we didn’t. I talk more about the Holtons’ adventures in UHF here, a post that I wrote for the 2014 A to Z Challenge. (The 2022 Challenge is coming up, and I know all of you will be participating in it. Right? Right!)
I was seven when I got my first radio from my Aunt Cash. It had a Bakelite case and a big dial, complete with the CONELRAD markers at 640 and 1240. My aunt Bitsy helped me find WLS, and the dial more or less stayed there. For my 11th birthday, I got a clock radio, then for Christmas a year or so later I got a Zenith Royal 790 Super Navigator.
My family got our first stereo from my Uncle Ed. It had an AM/FM radio and a turntable and two speakers, one built into the cabinet, the other in an external speaker. That’s where I listened to Beatles and Allan Sherman records, as well as some of Mom and Dad’s records. When I graduated grammar school, I bought a stereo with the gift money. I had a Garrard turntable and a Panasonic tuner and amplifier. Mom decided to replace Uncle Ed’s stereo with an all-in-one unit from Zenith, and Tex (her boyfriend and later husband) took the stereo out of the cabinet from the old one and built a shelf to hold the new one.
All the phones, whether desk or wall, were the kind that the phone company installed. Touch-Tone was just being rolled out, but we stuck with dial phones because they were cheaper. The only family I knew with Touch-Tone was a family where the father worked for Illinois Bell.
What technology do you remember coming into your home for the first time? Color TV! When I was a sophomore in high school, we finally got a color TV. By then, all the networks and most of the independent stations were broadcasting in color.
What kind of televisions or radios did you have – post pictures if you can find them. I think I already answered this.
How did music technology change in your lifetime? When was the last time you purchased music? In what form was the music? We went from LP’s and singles, to 8-track tape, to cassette tape, to compact disc, to music downloads in my life, and I’m just young enough to have missed 78 rpm’s. I bought an album on digital download just last week, in fact.
Did you have a home computer? If so, what was it? Did you have a webcam? Did you stream content with it? Home computers came out in the late ’70’s, but I held off buying one until the mid-’90’s, though I did have a Sinclair ZX-81 for a while. I’m currently on my second Mac Mini, to which I had more memory and a 1TB SSD, thinking I’d be able to upgrade it to Mac OS Monterey. Silly me. I also have a MacBook Air and a couple of older laptops that are running Linux. The MacBook and one of the laptops have cameras, but I don’t use them for much.
What kind of phone did you have? Do you have a landline today? Mary and I both have iPhone 8’s. We no longer have a landline.
Did you have toys with integrated technology, robots, automation, etc? Are you kidding?
What technology ‘blew your mind’? Chatbots that use artificial intelligence to carry on conversations with you. I swear, you think you’re talking to a real person…
When did you get your first cell phone? What brand and model was it? Did you carry a pager? We got our first back in the early ’90’s. I forget what kind it was; we got it from AAA on one of their deals. And yes, I carried a pager for work. In fact, there were days I carried two.
Is there any current technology you refuse to own or have in your home? Alexa. I don’t want anything that listens in on us all day and night. I use Siri reluctantly to turn on and off the flashlight at night, but that’s really it. The other is cable TV. Huge waste of money.