Monday, September 24, 2007

Changes in My Short Life

I was born in 1974, which really isn't that long ago...I think. Anyway, I was thinking about how many changes I have seen in my short life. Some of this may be due to economics, I don't know. I was thinking how weird the world would be without our upgrades, and how weird younger people would think it would be without this stuff. Here are the inventions in no particular order.

1) Cordless phones. When I was a kid, all our phones were connected by a long, slinky looking cord. These cords were magically altered to tangle so that, no matter what you were reaching for, you would come up 6 inches short. Also, the cord was designed to snap out from between your chin and shoulder when reaching for said object so that it could bang on the ground and wall with maximum force. I remember when my dad got a cordless phone. We all took turns walking around the house saying, "Can you hear me now? I'm like, 20 feet from the base. I'm serious! I can reach my keys and everything!"

2) Cell phones. These were like cordless phones, only you could drive with them. A friend had one of the early models. It was a huge box/phone that went in your car. I think it cost $20 a minute to run the thing. Recently, I was watching "Commando" on TBS. (You know, the Schwarzenegger movie with Alyssa Milano in it?) Anyway, the bad guys were trying to call the big boss and tell him that Schwarzenegger had gotten off the plane but they couldn't find a pay phone to make the call. Pay phones...remember those?

3) Computers. Yes, there was a time when I had no computer, and neither did anyone else. I had an early Commodore 64. Here's a flashback for you, Load "*" ,8,1. I hooked it in directly to the TV and stayed up all night playing Bard's Tale. Fabulous, man, fabulous.

4) Microsoft Word. Seem like a little deal to you? FYI, I learned to "type" on a real live typewriter. I wrote term papers on typewriters. A typewriter! Egad. I cannot imagine trying to do that again. The very thought of it gives me the creeps.

5) Remote control TV. My dad got an RCA TV with a remote control when I was a kid. That means you didn't have to get up to "turn the dial." His TV actually malfunctioned whilst under warranty, so he sent it back and got a new one. He failed to pack up the remote with the return, so we had two remotes. I hid outside with the second remote and changed the channels on him when he tried to use the volume and etc. What a hoot.

6) LASIK surgery. Holy smokes, they can do surgery on your eyeballs now with laser beams and you will have nigh perfect vision the next day. Can you believe it? I know this may not seem like a wild advancement to you, but that's because you probably haven't ponied up the $1300 yet to get yours fixed. I asked the doctor if I gave him an extra $500 if he would install X-Ray vision. He said, "Not yet." Upon reflection I was quite thankful that this cannot yet be done. Men are not to be trusted with X-ray vision under any circumstance.

7) The internet. I used to have to look things up in an Encyclopedia. Thank you Al Gore!

8) TiVo. Possibly the most wonderful invention in the past 25 years. Actually, it is neck and neck with the Post-It Note invention and the CamelBack.

9) Actually, TiVo, Schmee-Vo. I remember when the VCR came out. We had a Beta Max. We backed the wrong horse on that deal.

10) Satellite TV. Okay, not really a universe shaking invention, but when my aunt and uncle got a "satellite" in the 80's, the thing took up half the backyard. It looked like they were trying to contact Mars, not watch television.

11) Microwave Oven. This was a divine inspiration. Without this invention, God knew that thousands of college freshman would have cruelly starved to death each year.

12) Computer Animation. We are thankful for this invention, precious, because it made it possible for the Lord of the Rings Trilogy to be done right. I mean, can you say, "Clash of the Titans"? Remember the special effects in that one? If not for computer animation, Gollum would have had to be played by Steve Buscemi with a shaved head.

13) CD's. I grew up listening to "The Charlie Daniel's Band" on 8-track. (8 Tracks are like CD's with tape, only you get fewer songs and can only fast-forward.) We had an Eagle's 8-track as well. I had the J. Geils Band album. In case you don't know, that a big record. I listened to "Freeze Frame" about 1 million times. There was another song on that album that I used to like, but now I am aghast that I listened to it at such a tender age. I had no idea what they were talking about. My blood runs cold indeed.

I think that's enough reminiscing for one day. You guys can add your own favorite, recent, life-changing inventions.


BugBlaster said...

In the early 70's my parents bought a Zenith TV with a remote "channel changer". It was totally mechanical. When you pressed on of the three spring-loaded buttons, it would pluck some sort of metallic thingy inside, and the resulting sound tone would cause the tv to turn the channel dial clockwise or counterclockwise. The third option would be to cycle through low, med, and high volume levels. It was really cool, because the right combination of jangly keys on a chain would also make things happen. Pennies, nickels and quarters shaken together would also do it. When my brother was watching scooby-doo I'd jingle the keys and then then listen to him scream. Now I'm all teary-eyed with nostalgia.

I never understood what that other j.geils song was about either.

Matt Brown said...

Your blood runs cold? Hmmm, yes, but has your memory just been sold?

I'm only three years older than you, so my memories are much like yours. I had a Commodore 64, but I don't remember "Bard's Tale." There was this G.I. Joe game that my friend Tony and I played a lot.

We didn't get a microwave until I was a junior in high school. No VCR until I was a senior in college.

One thing you failed to mention: MTV. We didn't have it at my house, so I had to watch it at a friend's house. When I stayed over on Saturday nights (we went to the same church), we watched "Headbanger's Ball" at midnight. Ah, the subversiveness of teenagers!