Tech5 News : Technology then and now

Ben HarrisonTechnology then and now


Good afternoon and welcome to another Tech 5 program and a five minute trip into the amazing world of technology. This is Ben Harrison.


With apologies to our younger listeners, this program is directed to ‘oldies’. But why not stay listening for a glimpse into the past.


There were a huge number of items and technologies that were in common usage by our parents and grandparents during the early part of the last century, that through technology and redesign have been made so redundant and obsolete that most people under the age of 60 would have no idea what we are talking about?


Take the automobile for instance: When I bought my first car it was really ‘cool’ (even cool is a word my parents would not have understood). It was cool  because it had non tech ‘fender skirts’ covering the wheel wells and to stop my white wall tires from getting scuffed on the curb, it had something called non tech curb feelers, that made a metal noise when I was six inches from a cement curb.


The steering wheel had a non tech  ‘steering knob’ attached to it to help spin the wheel in tight turns to make turning easier, because in those days we didn’t have power steering.


Only a few cars had an automatic transmission and the gear shift extended from the floor between the driver and passenger. It also had a knob on it the size of a golf ball that was known as a suicide knob because of the danger to anyone sitting in the middle of the front seat when there was a serious accident.


In those days, all cars had an ’emergency brake which we now call a ‘parking brake’. No emergency there unless you forget to apply it while parked on a hill.

Most new drivers today do not even know what a clutch is or that the headlight dimmer switch used to be on the floor. The starter was down there too.

Kids would wait at the street for their daddy to come home, so they could ride on the non tech ‘running board’ up to the house?

A phrase we heard all the time in our younger days was
‘store-bought.’ Of course, just about everything was home-made and not store bought in those days. Women and girls bragged about having a store-bought dress.

When was the last time you heard the quaint phrase
‘in a family way?’ It’s hard to imagine that the word ‘pregnant’
was once considered a little too graphic, a little too clinical for use in polite company,
so we had all that talk about stork visits and ‘being in a family way’ or simply ‘expecting.’
Many of us will remember advertisements that were
meant to sound so modern like ‘Dyna Flow’ and ‘Electrolux’ and ‘Ice-box’. We also remember when a television set was an expensive luxury and only available in black and white. The first national color broadcast (the 1954 Tournament of Roses Parade) occurred on January 1, 1954. But high prices and the scarcity of color programming greatly slowed its acceptance in the marketplace and during the next ten years most broadcasts, and nearly all local programming, continued to be in black-and-white. It was not until the mid-1960s that color sets started selling in large numbers. In 1965 it was announced that over half of all network prime-time programming would be broadcast in color that fall.  Early color sets were expensive and either floor-standing console models or tabletop versions nearly as bulky and heavy, so in practice they remained firmly anchored in one place.


If you worked in a business or professional office, you would have used a ‘fax’ machine and secretaries who hadn’t mastered the art of ‘short hand’ transcribed letters from a ‘Dicta-Phone’.


Telephones all had a large rotary dial with numbers. You inserted your finger in the numbered hole and dialed a four or five digit number; we had never had an area code. To make an overseas or long distance call, you dialed 0 or 110 depending on where you lived and gave the operator the number you wanted to reach. She might put you through, but more likely she would put you in a cue and call you back when she could put your call through. Don’t even think of calling at Christmas, Easter or Mother’s Day when the lines could be tied up all day long.


However, the passage of time and the development of new technologies changed all of that.


When the first Ford automobiles were being built and sold in the early 1900’s, Henry Ford said, “You can have any colour you want, as long as it is black”. Today’s cars are available in any bizarre colour or combination of colours you want, with options and safety features like air bags, air conditioning, power steering and brakes, automatic windows, satellite radios; virtually hundreds of high tech devices our ancestors couldn’t even have dreamed of, to make driving and riding in an automobile a pleasurable experience.


Most other things that we take for granted, from appliances to entertainment, from communication to home comfort, are the result of technological advances. And we are just seeing the beginning. What we have seen during even the past decade, will be dwarfed by technology that makes existing technology obsolete every five years.


In summary, change is inevitable; how we adapt to a continually changing world that affects our lifestyle and even our culture will be up to us each as individuals.


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This is Ben Harrison from EEZEE Radio 91.1 AND 102.7 on your FM DIAL in St. Vincent and the Grenadines