Monday, November 19, 2012

How I Know I'm Old

An FB friend was commenting about something on the telly showing people how to tape music off the radio. I mentioned that I remembered trying to do that by holding the microphone of a reel-to-reel tape recorder next to the stereo speakers. (I have probably already lost any under 30's reading.) I would get all the way to the end of a song and the bloody dog would start barking.

How old does this make me feel? It pre-dates the smaller cassette tapes!

Then I started thinking about all the other things that, in my kids' eyes, date me back to the Pleistocene age:

Slide Rules - For some reason, we weren't allowed to use computers in our O Level maths curriculum, so slide rule it was.  I can't even remember what we did with it, let alone explain it to anyone. 

I also remember -

- having to get up to turn the TV to a different channel
- only having four TV channels (remember, this was the UK, Americans)
- not having TV in the middle of the day (ditto)
- getting breakfast TV in the early 80's (ditto)
- when VCRs came in

Creak. Must go and have my afternoon nap now.


  1. Last year my son found our old answering machine down in the basement. He was bewildered as to what it was. "But why didn't you use voice mail?" he asked. "Why did you need a machine?"

    Also, phones with cords.

    We must be from the same generation. I remember all that, including the four channels even though I'm American (ABC, NBC, CBS, and PBS). And they all went off air around midnight or shortly thereafter. I knew it was late when the Star Spangled Banner played and then the screen went to snow.

    Ah, the good old days.

  2. OMG, the slide rule. I owned one, too. I think they worked on tens. Or something like that.

  3. Thanks for the sweet memories. Technology is great but not necessarily better - oh for the day of receiving a handwritten lettr in the mail...

  4. I remember all that and more. Like when microwaves first came on the scene and they were HUGE. Or having the operator interrupt a busy line; because that person didn't have call waiting yet. Or taking your film in to be processed - you had to wait several days to find out how many pictures you cut the heads off of people.

    I could go on, but now I'm starting to feel old; so I think I'll take my heating pad and toddle off to bed at this very late hour of 9:00 pm.

  5. Any geek worthy of the title had a slide rule, and I carried mine proudly! And the TV, with only THREE channels. And you had to STAND UP AND WALK ACROSS THE ROOM to turn it on. My children think I grew up in the Dark Ages.

    But my son has children now, and they'll be wondering how he grew up without Facebook.

  6. I still have a slide rule, and remember how to use it. However, I'm the only person I know in my generation that did know how to use it - I acquired my Dad's slide rule and taught myself from an old textbook I found in the school library. I went to high school in the 1980's. I gave one of my university lecturers a surprise when I brought it to an exam in the early 1990's.

  7. Like Mike, I was going to say I remember having 3 channels and the sheer excitement of Channel Four launching. Brookside!
    Also, waiting for the tv to warm up - you not only had to walk across the room to change channels, you also had to turn the tv on ten mins before the programme you wanted and wait as the picture appeared as a few pixels then more then more...
    Don't forget black and White television, computers that involved rapidly thumping the n and m buttons to make Daley Thompson run and finally, being the first kid in the street with a video recorder (we were either last or it just felt like it)

  8. What's the Plasticine Age?

    I was the first year at my school that did Maths O' Level with a calculator (I think you meant calculator, not computer, by the way). They split the year in two. Half of us did the calculator paper, half of us did the non-calculator paper. It was a trial of some kind.

    I remember having only three tv channels. I remember Channel 4 being launched, and everyone tutting and saying "why on earth do we need a FOURTH channel?". They found it hard to get advertising, and in its early days, some of the adverts were of the Chief Exec telling us why advertising on Channel 4 was such so great (except it obviously wasn't, otherwise they wouldn't have had to run the ad of him telling everyone it was!)

    And the TV had to warm up when you turned it on. Remember that? (Bother, Jen said that already. That's what comes of writing your own comment before you've read the other ones.)

  9. I remember the excitement of getting a calculator, and a colour television!

    Never had a reel-to-reel tape recorder of my own, but when I started teaching in 1984 that was what I had in my classroom. I remember I did have a cassette player too though.

    Staying home sick involved watching things like Play School on TV and then napping until Pebble Mill at One came on.

  10. OMG the memories. And yes Iota, I meant calculator. Thanks. I think our O level maths classes were also split into those who used one and those who didn't. I seem to remember it was the A stream girls who got one because they were doing harder stuff than us B lot.

  11. My kids didnt believe we only had one computer at work and you had to make an "appointment" to use it! Bearing in mind this was only 25 years ago, they cant even imagine the Andy Pandy black and white tv of our childhoods!

  12. Oh, Pebble Mill at One! That really rings a historic bell!

  13. I remember going to a lecture at college all about the "information superhighway" ie the internet -none of us (journalism postgrads) had ever heard of it!

  14. I still remember when we first started using email at school and our principal would have to remind everyone at faculty meetings to log on and read their email 'at least once a week' (and yes, we had one shared computer as well.) Fast forward 15 years: at the position I just left in the US before moving to Seoul, every teacher was issued her own laptop, an email account, and was expected to maintain a faculty web page. How things change...

  15. That reminds me of some snarky newspaper thing I read years ago talking about people who "checked their e-mails hourly" as if that was the most pretentious thing you could ever do. Ha ha.

  16. I feel young! I had a cassette player with a radio so you could just press record+play together (no idea why you couldn't just press record) to tape songs off the radio. None of that old fogey reel to reel stuff.

    And I've never used a slide rule. Wouldn't know how. We had calculators from age 11 - in fact, I still have mine now, though my son tells me it's not as good as his because it doesn't do fractions.

    I'm 42 (I think!) and we were the last but one year to do "O" levels. Must be decades younger than the rest of you! ;-P


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