Technology Influences #TBTMemory

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 โ€“ 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 โ€˜blew your mindโ€™? 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.

16 thoughts on “Technology Influences #TBTMemory

    1. Oh, she was. Typical middle child, a real mixer. Used to have belching contests with her son. Took piano lessons, but drove her teachers nuts because they would play something and she’d play it back by ear, transposing it into her own key. She was a real character. I wish she had lived to know all her grandchildren…


  1. Thanks for joining in John. At this stage of the game, I’ve been through many technology evolutions too. I don’t want Alexa in my home either. Big brother is already in too much of my business.

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    1. I’m generally the last person who thinks the government should intervene in anything, but I think the reins need to be tightened a little on all the digital oligarchs. Part of that might be telling the government to stop releasing data on individuals to marketers. For example, how does AARP know when your 50th birthday is? That’s information that is really none of their business.

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  2. We got our first TV when I was about 3 or 4 years old. Until I was an adult and had left home we had 2 tv stations (when I went to uni in the state capital I finally had access to 4 tv stations!).

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    1. More channels doesn’t necessarily mean better ones, but two channels? It’s almost not worth having a TV at that point. Now, I suppose with cable and satellite, you have hundreds of them, of which you watch maybe 5 on a regular basis…

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  3. Welcome, John! It is so great to have you on board! I loved your post and can relate to much of it. That video of your Zenith radio brought back a lot of memories. The sounds of tuning in a station were fond memories. What were the two fine tuning knobs? My radios never had that. I remember the first time I walked into a Ma Bell store and realized some people were starting to buy their phones. My parents thought that was insanity! Thanks for joining in!

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    1. The two small knobs on the left were the volume control and something called DF level, useful if you were trying to pull in a weak station. I don’t know why the guy was raising and lowering the volume when he was changing stations, to be honest… I’m a little disappointed he didn’t demonstrate longwave or shortwave, but as I said, I was never able to much on those, anyway…

      This was fun!

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