Proving That I’m Old

We were talking about old school high tech stuff at work. You know, the stuff that was ‘the bomb’ back in the day:

  • Mom and Dad had one of the first ‘pocket’ calculators. Made by Texas Instruments, it was about an inch thick, 3″ wide and 5 ” long, took 4 AA batteries (rechargeable with a built in charger), had red LED numbers and buttons that clicked loudly when you pushed them. It could do all the advanced stuff, you know, add, subtract, multiply and divide. They might even still have it
  • In his ’77 Cutlass (Mandarin Orange with the tan ‘landau’ vinyl top, natch’), Dad had an under the dash cassette player. Now, these things were big targets for thieves, so it was mounted on a slide and you kept it under the seat when you weren’t using it.
  • Grandpa has a slightly lower tech solution for listening to cassettes in his ’80 Citation. He had the in dash AM radio, the under dash FM converter that played FM stations through the AM radio by tuning into a special AM station (like the things folks use now to listen to their iPods in the car). Next to that, under the dash, was an 8-track player that, I think, played the 8-tracks through an FM station (which then went through an AM station). He then played his cassettes through cassette adapter in the 8-track player. There may have been some loss of sound quality once the signal made it to the lone 6×9 speaker in the dash.
  • In my ’80 Chevy Monza I had an in-dash Pioneer AM/FM cassette player. Under that I had the 8 or 10 band EQ/amp with aux. input for my Sony Discman that I had mounted on the accessory flex arm and mount pad attached to the passenger seat. I of course had the obligatory 6×9 speakers in custom plywood boxes in the back.
  • Mom and Dad bought their first color TV in 1975. It was the best of it’s day – a big 23″ Zenith in the ‘wood’ cabinet. They were still using it up until a couple years ago. We didn’t have the Zenith ‘clicker’ remote, though, we had to get up and turn the knobs (yes, knobs – clack, clack, clack) ourselves.
  • Our school was fairly advanced. I remember using computers back in 6th or 7th grade. Commodore PETs. No disc drives, all programs and data was stored on cassette tape.
  • In High school I had friends with Commodore 64’s adn Timex Sinclair computers that you could hook up to your TV.
  • We, of course, had the Atari 2600. But the one we had wasn’t called the 2600 because there wasn’t any other model. It was just Atari. Yes, Mom and Dad still have it. My kids and my sister’s love to play it when we go to Toledo.
  • My first stereo was bought piece by piece. I had 60 watt Jensen speakers with 10″ woofers and a 40 watt per Chanel Akai receiver (with touch sensitive volume control, but no remote). The coolest thing was my JVC dual cassette deck that would shuffle play songs on tape (provided there was the appropriate 4 second gap in between songs). It would click and snap, fast forward and reverse through the tape to find the 4th song, then the 3rd, then the 8th. This was before CDs and digital recording made it easy to do random & shuffle.
  • Dad’s still got his high end stereo he bought in 1965. A Fisher FM tuner amp (with tubes and the ‘Stereo Beam‘), Electro-Voice speakers and a record changer. He’s since added a new single turntable, a 3M Wollensak cassette deck and a Pioneer magazine style CD changer. He has to switch between the cassette player and the CD changer because the Fisher doesn’t have enough inputs. It was a serious high end system in it’s day and still sounds pretty good now. It’s in a nice wood cabinet the size of a sofa.

Ah, memories …
I’m sure I could think of more. What sort of old school high tech stuff do you remember?

13 thoughts on “Proving That I’m Old

  1. Hi salguod,
    I could be your dad. 😉
    I remember being jealous when my sister got the first portable transistor (AM) radio in the family. The main advertised feature of the radio was the number of transistors (6). We listened to early Beatles songs on it.
    When I was growing up, the family’s hi fi radio / record player was a major piece of furniture. And when that was replaced by our first family stereo — which was an even more impressively major piece of furniture. I remember insisting that there must be a speaker hidden in the center because that’s where a lot of the sound was coming from. I never did find the center speaker 😉
    My uncle had a movie camera. (film strips) Watching his home movies was a mandatory family event on holidays. The clatter of the movie projector drowned out conversation.
    My dad developed his own pictures (black-and-white only). He had a pretty high-end box camera with flash attachments. Each picture required a new flash bulb.
    And, yes, I remember walking to school in the snow. But it wasn’t uphill both ways 😉

  2. I knew comments would bring back more.
    Remember flash cubes? You clicked a picture and the flash went off and then the bulb was toast. Advancing the film rotated the cube to the next bulb. 4 flashes per cube.
    For years Mom and Dad only took slides. Between theirs and Grandpa and Grandma’s, they must have 200 carousels in the basement. We try to make time to look through a few each time we go up there.
    I was pretty fired up about my boom box that I got in HS. AM/FM and cassette in a box the size of a pair of shoe boxes strapped together. I would take it with me on the bus for marching band away games, blasting that good 80’s music all the way there and back.

  3. Hey, be nice. I’ve got thousands of slides I haven’t scanned yet (it’s $0.50/slide to have it done). Many of those were taken with my Minolta SRT-102 that I worked two jobs in high school to pay for. We developed our own B/W stuff and my girlfriend’s uncle developed our slides for about 1/2 the price of a commercial lab (and we mounted them ourselves with these paper mounts you sealed with an iron). I *still* use a Mamiya C330 and a Technica 4×5 camera. I made a movie in 9th grade English class with my dad’s 8mm camera.
    I had a 8 track under the dash with that slide mount thing.
    Oh, yes I *can* use a slide rule. And my HP41-C still r0x0rz (yes, it still works and I’m not sure what the new calculators do any better).
    My home theater is just stuff added on to my stereo. Yamahauler receiver. QSC power amps. AR mains and center. Homebrew subs.
    gack. are we geeks or what?

  4. Land cameras (let’s watch the photos appear). And oh yes, the flash cubes!!
    I had a sony transistor radio that was tres chic
    Let’s not forget the earliest form of cell phones, aka CB Radios. The big deal in the local high schools was for all the kids to talk to each other over their CBs in the school parking lot.
    I can remember the amazement of Pong. I took an “Introduction to Basic” at the local jr college using a Commodore 64. But I was already in my twenties. The high tech of my high school days was the IBM Selectric typewriter with the little type ball.
    When I was about 27, I worked for a large insurance company. The big deal there was their brand new, state of the art ‘laser printer’. They had tours to show it off (it was huge). They printed our W-4s that year on it and they had to reassure us that all three copies printed on a regular piece of paper with ok to use w/our IRS filing.
    ok….I’m stopping now because I’m feeling really, really old.

  5. Grandpa had a CB in his motor home. I thought it was seriously cool & tried to learn some of the lingo.
    In 30 years we’ll be saying “Remember back in the day when we used to blog!”
    To which I’ll reply “Eh?!” because my hearing aid batteries will be dead again.

  6. I remember when my employer (a large utility company) first began to deploy email. They started with the CEO and his immediate reports, and gradually worked down the org chart (which was a brilliant approach to ensure management acceptance). I remember the VP in our office being terrified that he would miss an email from his boss. And whenever he sent an email, he would call by phone to see if the other person got it. Email was expensive at that time, and lower level folks were not getting email accounts. So I wrote a mainframe TSO-based email tool which everyone could use, and it took off like wildfire. The end result was that everyone soon got official email accounts.

  7. I’ll never forget watching my roomate in the Army hunched over a Sinclair 1000 every night for a week. At the end of which he jumped up and while still jumping for joy grabbed me to look at the creation of his labors… A lone bouncing pixel slowly traversing across that itsy bitsy dot matrix screen.
    I remember boldly stating that if that’s what computer programming was all about I’d never get near one of the things – what a WASTE of time.
    Of course I write this from my office where I work as an application developer. ;-(
    Oh and the underdash EQ was also a 40 watt amp that sounded great in the old Dodge Coronet Station wagon. At least it did when plugged into a pair of Pioneer home speakers with 10″ woofers.
    How about this. Rotary Dial telephones. When my kids were around 5 years old they asked me why we always said “dial your grandma’s number”. What’s “dial” mean?

  8. i can remember going to the State Fair and the phone people being there. They would let you race against dialing with the new fandangled push button phone. Wow, it was so much faster!
    I was an assistant to a hospital administrator when we got email in 1990 (EDS had us cutting edge). She didn’t understand it so I had to go in and print out everything and give her hard copies.
    you know….i knew this day would come. I think I’m officially old. I think I’ll go stare at my lava lamp for a while.

  9. Doug
    Thanks for the walk down our memory lane. You failed to mention the 1975 TV was replaced in 2007 – a few months ago. At least our new TV no longer sits on top of our old set. Yes we finally got rid of it. You forgot our two 11 year old cars! But we still sing, dance and exercise and can afford vacations because we aren’t techy.
    Mom and Dad

  10. I think I had that same calculator. I won it at a Cub Scout thing. First thing I remember winning. All I could do with it was spell help and use it as a red light at night!
    We had an apple computer and did programming in basic in school. Then we switched schools and they had commodores…ugh!

  11. I kinda doubt you had this one. I think they may have bought it before I was born. I always remember them having it. I think it cost something like $100 in the early 70’s.

  12. D
    When I was a kid we spent 3 months living in Japan (Dad needed to not be at work to avoid a layoff, we stayed at grandmas). The ‘pocket’ calculator was really new so all the banks had to have them for the tellers to show they a modern establishment. We went to exchange dollars in to yen and the teller used the calculator then set it down and checked the numbers with an abacus. So much for the new fangled technology.

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