My Technology ‘Timeline’

I am amazed at the development of technology.  Let me walk you through my journey of how technology has affected my life…..

I was born in the early ’50s when ‘technology’ was in it’s infancy.  By technology, I’m referring to TVs, phones, computers, various hand held communication devices, and things I don’t even know about.  I remember our first television set quite clearly:  a 12″ screen mounted on top of a similar size speaker  and all encased by a wooden box.  I grew up in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada so we got the feeds from Buffalo, New York’s CBS, NBC, and ABC networks as well as CBC in Canada (the only ones at the time) picked up by our antenna mounted on the roof of our house.  I watched favourites like the “Wonderful World of Disney” , “Lassie”, and “Hockey Night in Canada” in glorious black and white, often flecked with interference ‘snow’.

1950s TV

Back in the day, we played outside mostly and really didn’t watch TV alot.  The VCR player, DVD player, and Blue Ray had not been invented yet so you watched the programming that the TV stations broadcasted.  Our telephone was ‘retro’ too:  a large dial with  a tethered, separate, heavy handset you listened and spoke into, which sat on its own ‘telephone table’.   And the only ‘computers’ then were involved with Outer Space exploration.

We witnessed history on those little boxes during  days on end of continuous TV coverage of the 1963 U.S. President John F. Kennedy assassination.  For the first time in history, the world witnessed a live shooting on television when JFK’s alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was shockingly gunned down right before our eyes.  Television brought history to life….and death.

The first time I saw a colour Television was in the mid-sixties.  WOW, I was so amazed at all those shades of green!  We got our first colour TV about 1967 – a huge wood floor model taking up about 6 square feet.  There was no remote so you actually had to get up to change the channel.  Captain Kirk looked so handsome in colour……  I remember watching the first moon landing by Neil Armstrong, live, as it happened in the middle of the night, all by myself, staring at the stars and the moon in amazement.

I recall seeing my first computer in 1973:  it took up an entire room in my university , the size of my house!  It was so noisy, windy, and all those ‘discs’ moved at such dizzying speed I thought I was going to be sick or have some kind of seizure!!

I sailed through the ’70s, technologically frozen, too busy with post-secondary education and then new babies I guess.  By the early ’80s, we purchased our first VCR:  we chose ‘VHS’ (Video Home System) rather than ‘Beta’, by sheer luck, as Beta never really caught on and fell by the wayside.  It came with a remote control, tethered to the VCR with a cord and it was a real circus trying not to trip over this cord.

Telephones were still corded and ‘mobile phones’ were still only available/affordable for the elite or government.  There was only one home telephone/land-line provider:  Bell and they ‘rented’ you the phone for a monthly fee.  You couldn’t just go to a store and buy a phone !!!  We got our first “portable” a.k.a. cordless home telephone in the early ’90s – it was a very large phone about the size of a kleenex box with a long 12” metal aerial sticking out of the top.  You had to stay within eyesight of the charging base as reception dwindled from other rooms in the house.  And the aerials were always getting broken off too.  Nowadays, we have several cordless home telephones and I haven’t lost one of these yet (well….there’s still another cordless phone in my garden….somewhere).  In the mid ’90s we got our first ‘mobile phone’ – this unit plugged into the cigarette lighter of a vehicle and was truly mobile as it could only be used IN a car because it was corded to the phone touch-pad.  Chris had to make a 12″x12″  wooden box for it to fit in!  Time usage was about 75 cents a minute/or part plus and an exorbitant monthly ‘connection’ fee AND cell towers were few and far between, so this phone was used for emergencies only!

Technology in general was accelerating at incredible speeds by the late 1990s. Vinyl music albums were replaced by cassette tapes in the ’70s, then CDs to be played on portable CD players with headphones – a teen was really cool if they walked around with a CD player (the size of a plate) and headphones listening to their favourite artist!  These days, you don’t even notice iPods or Mp3s tucked away as people of all ages listen away.   Personally, I like my vinyl albums and still have my original Woodstock, Beatles, and Led Zeppelin among others.   However it’s difficult to find replacement needles for the record player so whenever I see one at a garage sale, I often buy it just for the diamond needle.   Instead of movies produced on VHS tapes, they became available on slim DVDs.  This advancement was a  big bonus for the industry as they could re-issue the same old movies and music all over again on a new format!  By the late ’90s we had 2 TVs in our house!  However it was in the mid-2000s before we bought into the DVD market and added a DVD player to our home.  Today, I cannot find a new replacement VCR to buy but have found several on Freecycle – I still have shelves and shelves full of VHS movies that my grandchildren now watch like alot of the classic Disney movies and the ‘Land Before Time’ dinosaur movies.

About a dozen years or so ago, we took the plunge and bought a Star Choice -now Shaw- satellite dish and receiver.  I resisted for several years because all I saw for satellite TV were those huge satellite dishes bigger than the size of a patio umbrella!  No way was I going to look at THAT at my house!  Then my husband told me about these small dishes that mounted on your roof -unbelievable!  So reluctantly I agreed to his purchase of the new satellite system to replace our antenna reception.   It really was amazing to watch TV that had no ‘snowy’ reception with these aging eyes or have the signal drop inconveniently!  My original childhood 12″ TV screen has now evolved to a 47″ LCD flat screen TV thanks to a Christmas gift from my son Taylor.   It’s funny now because after all these years, I’m planning on cancelling my Shaw satellite TV in favour of free over-the-air antenna digital high-definition TV and computer internet TV programming (that can be hooked up to the new TV).  We even have years and years worth of movies on a little USB stick that we insert into the TV to watch movies!  Incredulous!

In the late ’90s, we bought our first computer:  a desktop IBM costing several thousand dollars.  My oldest son Robin set me up with an email address and wrote everything down on a paper about starting it up.  Then next day I did everything he wrote on that paper but to my frustration, it didn’t work.  I phoned him up and we went over everything while I had him on the phone……then he said something which wasn’t in my instructions  “… press enter” – Whoa!  “you never said to press ‘enter’!!”  LOL – and so now I was off to the cyber-races!  That computer was replaced in 2005 with another desktop and had a home in our kitchen.  At that time, a  telephone dial-up connection was the only thing available which meant that every time someone was on the computer (like every day between 4-9 pm) nobody could make or receive a telephone call!  Today we have wireless high speed broadband, but you’d think that since we are so close to the nations capital, we would have more options like cable or dsl but it seems we are still in a ‘black hole’…..    Now we all have laptops and most evenings you can find us sitting together in the livingroom talking and watching TV……while ‘surfing’ the ‘net’!

Even Kitten likes to 'surf'

Cell phones…..I always thought I was abit techy because I had a cell phone.  The last time we bought new cell phones about 6 years ago, we had a heck of a time finding one that just made phone calls!  All those ‘new’ phones took pictures and videos and we just wanted to make a phone call if we needed to!  I still use that cell phone today and it has served me well -I usually only use about 10-15 minutes a month.  I debated whether to go with a pay-as-you-go until I contacted my phone provider and told them I wanted to cancel my phone – suddenly they had an alternate monthly plan for $15 (instead of the $30 I had been paying) that would suit my needs.  I’m afraid I’ve missed the boat when it comes to cell phone technology:  I wouldn’t know how to use an iPhone and I think it would be too much for me to learn right now:  internet, telephone, television all in one!  And I won’t even begin to discuss the new “iPads”… boggles my mind!  Maybe in the future, I’ll need a brain stimulation lesson …….   But, I must admit that I have no desire to keep up with the latest techy fashion:  iPhones, iPads, iPods, Netbooks, Notebooks, E-books, Blackberrys or whatever,  so that I can “Tweet”, “Watch”, “StumbleUpon”,  or “Like” everything out there in cyberland!

So here are the financial statistics:

1950’s Television = Free    vs.   2012 Shaw Direct Digital Satellite TV = $75+

1970’s Telephone = < $10   vs.   2012 Telephone, Landline + Cellphone = $48

2000 Internet =  Free $ dial-up via University FreeNet  vs. 2012 High Speed Broadband = $75+

I agree with my son Marty’s belief that knowledge should be free for the sharing.  Thus internet and television should be free.  So maybe someday that ideal will be realized ……until then, I’ll just keep “liking”, emailing, “commenting”, “surfing” and blogging away.


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Maureen Sinclair
    Jan 27, 2012 @ 12:50:28

    Love what you write & all so true Linda.Keep writing dear, You make my day when I read your Blog.


  2. Robin (@rmellway)
    Jan 27, 2012 @ 16:01:17

    Very nice! But you missed two of my favorite pieces from your technological evolution: the 8-track player we had in the late 70’s and our first computer, the Commodore 64 in the mid-80’s… I still get the Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack running through my head sometimes and I remember fondly the many hours spent writing silly programs in BASIC or playing games like Winter Olympics and Beachhead on the C64!


    • grammomsblog
      Jan 27, 2012 @ 21:13:24

      You are SO right! I’d completely forgotten about the 8 Track and the C-64! BTW I still have that Jesus Christ Superstar cassette tape…..and all the others we ever had! lol


  3. grammomsblog
    Feb 02, 2012 @ 09:44:44

    My Sista Betty had trouble posting this:
    OMG!!… I LOVE THIS BLOG!!… and soooo… true – every word of it!!!… and just so you know – you can still buy a VCR/DVD combination – Toshiba – at Canadian Tire…. I bought mine there for $99.00!!!.. about a year ago… and I know they still have them there!!…


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