6 Gadgets We Miss (Or Maybe You Never Knew Existed)
When people say something is the best thing to come along since sliced bread, they don’t realize sliced bread has only been with us since 1928. Technology comes and goes, but it mostly goes as something better always comes along.
Rotary Phones/Operators and 2 Party Lines
The other day, Siri lost her internet connection on my iPhone and I was miffed that I had to actually manually scroll down my contact list to place a call. My, how times have changed. Imagine if our “I want it this second” society had to wait for each number to wind around the rotary dialer. I had a 2 party line as recently as 1990 but I did live on top of a mountain at the time. You would pick up the phone to hear the dial tone, (another thing that’s disappearing) and would sometimes hear a conversation. That’s because you were sharing a line (hence: 2 party line). You would have to wait until they were done to make your call. Of course you could entertain yourself by listening in, but you know I would never do such a thing.
I saw a bank of pay phones in a park in Costa Rica just a couple years back and we all snapped pictures of it. Pay phones no longer exist in most places, so if your phone goes dead or is lost, well, I’m not really sure what you would do. Of course, you wouldn’t even know your own home phone number because we all rely on our contact lists. I don’t know about you, but that’s kind of scary to me. We also used to have a service called Information which may not have been a gadget, but was handy none the less. You dialed either zero or 411 on your rotary phone and an operator would assist you in finding the number requested. Of course, you had to have the name and address to get the correct number, and you actually spoke to a human being, believe it or not.
These babies were state of the art. Instead of using a roll of film, then taking it to the lab for processing and printing, the picture came out the front and developed right before your eyes. This was like magic at first and very popular. Unfortunately, not known at the time, was that the pictures would fade or turn yellow in a matter of years. Alas, my childhood has been lost to the Polaroid fade.
You could even get waterproof disposables at one time, how cool is that? Of course, you only had about 12 or 24 shots you could take, had no zoom or crop features and had to take them to a store or lab to be developed but, hey, they were cheaper than buying a real camera. Then, just one short week or so away you would get prints of all the lousy shots you took or that just didn’t work at all. Man, those were good times.
At first only doctors had them. Then, anyone who needed to be connected got them. Nowadays that means everyone, but back then only really important folks needed to be connected. Of course, we all wanted to seem important, so everyone got them. These simply beeped at first telling you to call the office. Then they would feature a screen that would at least tell you what number to call back. Of course, you then had to find a pay phone if you weren’t around someone’s home phone (or land line as we now call them) and would need quarters for that pay phone as well. And you think life is complicated now.
Boy, did these disappear quick? Before caller ID, these were the best tools for screening your calls. They recorded on little cassette tapes at first and you would come home and after observing a flashing red light telling you had messages, rewind the tape and hear them. Of course none of us admitted it at the time but even if you were standing there when someone called, you would wait until you heard who was calling before answering. Can you even imagine the times before caller ID? I tell you, caller ID was the best thing to come along since sliced bread.
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