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« on: Jul 26, 2009 09:11 AM »

This article some1 sent me just makes me feel really unaccountably sad. Not old, but just sad about progress and modernity!! Some people call me a traditionalist. I guess it's true...  :'( I kind of miss the old days without cell phones and even dialup!! I feel like people were closer to each other back then, our relationships more real and just experiences richer. And even though we have social networking like facebook, twitter etc it just makes us feel more apart?  -- J.

100 Things Your Kids May Never Know About

There are some things in this world that will never be forgotten, this week’s 40th anniversary of the moon landing for one. But Moore’s Law and our ever-increasing quest for simpler, smaller, faster and better widgets and thingamabobs will always ensure that some of the technology we grew up with will not be passed down the line to the next generation of geeks.

That is, of course, unless we tell them all about the good old days of modems and typewriters, slide rules and encyclopedias …

Audio-Visual Entertainment

    * Inserting a VHS tape into a VCR to watch a movie or to record something.
    * Super-8 movies and cine film of all kinds.
    * Playing music on an audio tape using a personal stereo. See what happens when you give a Walkman to today’s teenager.
    * The number of TV channels being a single digit. I remember it being a massive event when Britain got its fourth channel.
    * Standard-definition, CRT TVs filling up half your living room.
    * Rotary dial televisions with no remote control. You know, the ones where the kids were the remote control.
    * High-speed dubbing.
    * 8-track cartridges.
    * Vinyl records. Even today’s DJs are going laptop or CD.
    * Betamax tapes.
    * MiniDisc.
    * Laserdisc: the LP of DVD.
    * Scanning the radio dial and hearing static between stations. (Digital tuners + HD radio b0rk this concept.)
    * Shortwave radio.
    * 3-D movies meaning red-and-green glasses.
    * Watching TV when the networks say you should. Tivo and Sky+ are slowing killing this one.
    * That there was a time before ‘reality TV.’

Computers and Videogaming

    * Wires. OK, so they’re not gone yet, but it won’t be long
    * The scream of a modem connecting.
    * The buzz of a dot-matrix printer
    * 5- and 3-inch floppies, Zip Discs and countless other forms of data storage.
    * Using jumpers to set IRQs.
    * DOS.
    * Terminals accessing the mainframe.
    * Screens being just green (or orange) on black.
    * Tweaking the volume setting on your tape deck to get a computer game to load, and waiting ages for it to actually do it.
    * Daisy chaining your SCSI devices and making sure they’ve all got a different ID.
    * Counting in kilobytes.
    * Wondering if you can afford to buy a RAM upgrade.
    * Blowing the dust out of a NES cartridge in the hopes that it’ll load this time.
    * Turning a PlayStation on its end to try and get a game to load.
    * Joysticks.
    * Having to delete something to make room on your hard drive.
    * Booting your computer off of a floppy disk.
    * Recording a song in a studio.

The Internet

    * NCSA Mosaic.
    * Finding out information from an encyclopedia.
    * Using a road atlas to get from A to B.
    * Doing bank business only when the bank is open.
    * Shopping only during the day, Monday to Saturday.
    * Phone books and Yellow Pages.
    * Newspapers and magazines made from dead trees.
    * Actually being able to get a domain name consisting of real words.
    * Filling out an order form by hand, putting it in an envelope and posting it.
    * Not knowing exactly what all of your friends are doing and thinking at every moment.
    * Carrying on a correspondence with real letters, especially the handwritten kind.
    * Archie searches.
    * Gopher searches.
    * Concatenating and UUDecoding binaries from Usenet.
    * Privacy.
    * The fact that words generally don’t have num8er5 in them.
    * Correct spelling of phrases, rather than TLAs.
    * Waiting several minutes (or even hours!) to download something.
    * The time before botnets/security vulnerabilities due to always-on and always-connected PCs
    * The time before PC networks.
    * When Spam was just a meat product — or even a Monty Python sketch.


    * Typewriters.
    * Putting film in your camera: 35mm may have some life still, but what about APS or disk?
    * Sending that film away to be processed.
    * Having physical prints of photographs come back to you.
    * CB radios.
    * Getting lost. With GPS coming to more and more phones, your location is only a click away.
    * Rotary-dial telephones.
    * Answering machines.
    * Using a stick to point at information on a wallchart
    * Pay phones.
    * Phones with actual bells in them.
    * Fax machines.
    * Vacuum cleaners with bags in them.

Everything Else

    * Taking turns picking a radio station, or selecting a tape, for everyone to listen to during a long drive.
    * Remembering someone’s phone number.
    * Not knowing who was calling you on the phone.
    * Actually going down to a Blockbuster store to rent a movie.
    * Toys actually being suitable for the under-3s.
    * LEGO just being square blocks of various sizes, with the odd wheel, window or door.
    * Waiting for the television-network premiere to watch a movie after its run at the theater.
    * Relying on the 5-minute sport segment on the nightly news for baseball highlights.
    * Neat handwriting.
    * The days before the nanny state.
    * Starbuck being a man.
    * Han shoots first.
    * “Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father.” But they’ve already seen episode III, so it’s no big surprise.
    * Kentucky Fried Chicken, as opposed to KFC.
    * Trig tables and log tables.
    * “Don’t know what a slide rule is for …”
    * Finding books in a card catalog at the library.
    * Swimming pools with diving boards.
    * Hershey bars in silver wrappers.
    * Sliding the paper outer wrapper off a Kit-Kat, placing it on the palm of your hand and clapping to make it bang loudly. Then sliding your finger down the silver foil to break off the first finger
    * A Marathon bar (what a Snickers used to be called in Britain).
    * Having to manually unlock a car door.
    * Writing a check.
    * Looking out the window during a long drive.
    * Roller skates, as opposed to blades.
    * Cash.
    * Libraries as a place to get books rather than a place to use the internet.
    * Spending your entire allowance at the arcade in the mall.
    * Omni Magazine
    * A physical dictionary — either for spelling or definitions.
    * When a ‘geek’ and a ‘nerd’ were one and the same.
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« Reply #1 on: Jul 26, 2009 02:17 PM »

Reminds me of this article:

 Giving up my iPod for a Walkman

When the Sony Walkman was launched, 30 years ago this week, it started a revolution in portable music. But how does it compare with its digital successors? The Magazine invited 13-year-old Scott Campbell to swap his iPod for a Walkman for a week.

My dad had told me it was the iPod of its day.

He had told me it was big, but I hadn't realised he meant THAT big. It was the size of a small book.

When I saw it for the first time, its colour also struck me. Nowadays gadgets come in a rainbow of colours but this was only one shade - a bland grey.
# 1: Clunky buttons
# 2: Switch to metal (that's a type of cassette, not heavy rock music)
# 3: Battery light - usually found flickering in its death throes
# 4: Double headphone jack (not to be found on an iPod)
# 5: Door ejects - watch out for flying tapes and eye injuries

So it's not exactly the most aesthetically pleasing choice of music player. If I was browsing in a shop maybe I would have chosen something else.

From a practical point of view, the Walkman is rather cumbersome, and it is certainly not pocket-sized, unless you have large pockets. It comes with a handy belt clip screwed on to the back, yet the weight of the unit is enough to haul down a low-slung pair of combats.

When I wore it walking down the street or going into shops, I got strange looks, a mixture of surprise and curiosity, that made me a little embarrassed.

As I boarded the school bus, where I live in Aberdeenshire, I was greeted with laughter. One boy said: "No-one uses them any more." Another said: "Groovy." Yet another one quipped: "That would be hard to lose."

My friends couldn't imagine their parents using this monstrous box, but there was interest in what the thing was and how it worked.

In some classes in school they let me listen to music and one teacher recognised it and got nostalgic.

It took me three days to figure out that there was another side to the tape. That was not the only naive mistake that I made; I mistook the metal/normal switch on the Walkman for a genre-specific equaliser, but later I discovered that it was in fact used to switch between two different types of cassette.
“ I managed to create an impromptu shuffle feature simply by holding down 'rewind' and releasing it randomly ”

Another notable feature that the iPod has and the Walkman doesn't is "shuffle", where the player selects random tracks to play. Its a function that, on the face of it, the Walkman lacks. But I managed to create an impromptu shuffle feature simply by holding down "rewind" and releasing it randomly - effective, if a little laboured.

I told my dad about my clever idea. His words of warning brought home the difference between the portable music players of today, which don't have moving parts, and the mechanical playback of old. In his words, "Walkmans eat tapes". So my clumsy clicking could have ended up ruining my favourite tape, leaving me music-less for the rest of the day.

Digital relief

Throughout my week using the Walkman, I came to realise that I have very little knowledge of technology from the past. I made a number of naive mistakes, but I also learned a lot about the grandfather of the MP3 Player.

You can almost imagine the excitement about the Walkman coming out 30 years ago, as it was the newest piece of technology at the time.

Perhaps that kind of anticipation and excitement has been somewhat lost in the flood of new products which now hit our shelves on a regular basis.

Personally, I'm relieved I live in the digital age, with bigger choice, more functions and smaller devices. I'm relieved that the majority of technological advancement happened before I was born, as I can't imagine having to use such basic equipment every day.

Having said all that, portable music is better than no music.

Now, for technically curious readers, I've directly compared the portable cassette player with its latter-day successor. Here are the main cons, and even a pro, I found with this piece of antique technology.


This is the function that matters most. To make the music play, you push the large play button. It engages with a satisfying clunk, unlike the finger tip tap for the iPod.

When playing, it is clearly evident that the music sounds significantly different than when played on an MP3 player, mainly because of the hissy backtrack and odd warbly noises on the Walkman.

The warbling is probably because of the horrifically short battery life; it is nearly completely dead within three hours of firing it up. Not long after the music warbled into life, it abruptly ended.


With the plethora of MP3 players available on the market nowadays, each boasting bigger and better features than its predecessor, it is hard to imagine the prospect of purchasing and using a bulky cassette player instead of a digital device.

Furthermore, there were a number of buttons protruding from the top and sides of this device to provide functions such as "rewinding" and "fast-forwarding" (remember those?), which added even more bulk.

As well as this, the need for changing tapes is bothersome in itself. The tapes which I had could only hold around 12 tracks each, a fraction of the capacity of the smallest iPod.

Did my dad, Alan, really ever think this was a credible piece of technology?

"I remembered it fondly as a way to enjoy what music I liked, where I liked," he said. "But when I see it now, I wonder how I carried it!"


But it's not all a one-way street when you line up a Walkman against an iPod. The Walkman actually has two headphone sockets, labelled A and B, meaning the little music that I have, I can share with friends. To plug two pairs of headphones in to an iPod, you have to buy a special adapter.

Another useful feature is the power socket on the side, so that you can plug the Walkman into the wall when you're not on the move. But given the dreadful battery life, I guess this was an outright necessity rather than an extra function.

Scott Campbell co-edits his own news website,
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« Reply #2 on: Jul 26, 2009 02:19 PM »

...And does anyone else remember having to "warm up" the TV? Cheesy
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« Reply #3 on: Jul 27, 2009 06:56 AM »

Asalaamu Alaikum  bro

...And does anyone else remember having to "warm up" the TV?

Is that the same as the length of time it took to get a picture after switching on? If so, then yes!!  bro

Tweaking the volume setting on your tape deck to get a computer game to load, and waiting ages for it to actually do it.

You know in this age of Wiis and Xboxes and Playstations, it’s hard to believe we used to sit around and load a computer game from a cassette player, ensuring our volume setting was high enough so it wouldn’t crash whilst loading.

That one really does bring back some memories!!  bro

On a serious note, there has been so much technological advancement over the last 30 years that one wonders what life will be like in even 30 years time?

There was a time that you asked a person’s snail mail address if you wanted some primary contact information, then it became their phone number….then their mobile number…then their email address…then their facebook info....

Where will it stop? Will we be exchanging Twitter screen names as a matter of course in a few years time or will we all be online via our mobiles so others can already see if you’re ‘online’ or not?

There is an element that future generations may not fully appreciate the advancements that they simply take for granted. Is that a good or bad thing I wonder?

Ah well, I for one am happy to be called a traditionalist since, if nothing else, it beats being called old fashioned Wink

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« Reply #4 on: Jul 28, 2009 07:56 PM »

Wow, that was an amazinbg list. Really brought back some memories. Though I am a big e-mailer writer, I still do love to write regular letters by hand when given the opportunity or if I have the maling address of someone dear. It is so much more personal and a sign that you really care and are taking the time to write out your thoughts and feelings. Even if an e-mail is long, if one is a decent typer, it doesn't take much time to type it out and send it.
Personally, I miss the floppy disks and the caller ID one is also something I tend to forget . .those were exciting days when you got the surprise of finding out who was calling . . . *sigh* . . the good ol' days . . . . . I miss them.
Yes, indeed, I wonder how it will be in another 30 years' time - should be an interesting ride  Smiley


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« Reply #5 on: Jul 29, 2009 06:00 AM »

those  were the days

we have become spoiled
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