Retro Tech

I saw a post on Kim’s blog, about two young men trying (and failing) to work out how to use a rotary-dial phone. It’s an amusing video, but I found it quite worrying too. Here’s a link.
https://cadburypom.wordpress.com/2019/01/10/on-the-lighter-side-7/

Are you old enough to remember when the only TV you could watch was what was on at the time? Were you born (as I was) a very long time before the Internet? Can you remember VHS TV recorders with cable-connected remote controls? Phone boxes (booths) that needed the right change to make a call, and life before credit cards?

Some younger people no longer know how to tell the time on an analogue watch or clock. The video in the link shows that some cannot even work out how to use the type of phone that others still have in their homes. They have never written nor posted a letter, bought a stamp, or signed a cheque. I’m sure a lot of them don’t even know what a cheque book is. They have grown up in a world of fingertip convenience, with the answers to everything provided by the screen of their mobile phone, or a shout to ‘Alexa’. They can watch anything they want, when they want, on any platform that they choose. Their social interaction is primarily electronic, rarely even bothering to actually speak on the phones they all own.

It won’t be long before a generation exists that has never entered a shop. Online deliveries of everything, even food, mean that they don’t ever have to leave home, to buy anything they might need. You can even buy a car online, and have it delivered to your house. Virtual reality may one day remove the need to even travel abroad, as they experience any place in the world whilst lying on their bed, wearing a headset.

It’s a wonderful future, apparently. A brave new world of electronic convenience.

But what happens if and when it all stops? Solar flares, natural disasters, diminished resources, or ‘operator error’. So many things can potentially unravel the reliance on electronic aids and lifestyles. I wonder how they will cope in a future that I am fairly content to not be around to see?

Watch the video, and you will find out.

107 thoughts on “Retro Tech

  1. I am old enough to remember all those things. I suppose the way to look at it is that the world moves on. I read a quote somewhere about a man complaining about the current generation of the time’s over reliance on paper and that carving stuff into stone tablets was being lost and what would happen when the paper ran out. I believe if things go wrong human beings will adapt. Some will prosper… some won’t. That’s just how it goes.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Watching those teens struggling made me suddenly feel very old……………….. then I looked on eBay and could see original 1980’s phones selling for £35!!! Makes me wonder what’s around today that I could buy and make a fortune on later? Any ideas 😀 ?

    Liked by 1 person

        1. I used to love real typewriters. Giving the keys a good hammering! And the ‘ding’ at the end of the carriage. I rarely (never) use spellcheck. I can thank a Victorian-style early education for being able to spell. 🙂
          Best wishes, Pete.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoyed your post very much. Yesterday I was at the restaurant with my girlfriend and we thought that it won’t be long before everyone eats at home alone by ordering take away food with Just eat and Glovo… basically what’s already happening with the empty cinemas while everyone watches Netflix. :–(

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I still like to eat out once a month at least, and enjoy the atmosphere of a restaurant. But you are right, Sam. Very soon, most younger people will only order online, then eat that meal while they watch a film on Netflix, or catch up with social media on their smartphone. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I suggest you watch Wall-E, a great insight into the future ahead, where we are all so fat that we use hover chairs and have lost the ability to walk 🙂 Oh and we have destroyed our planet!
    I did read that the younger generation now use their thumbs to turn light switches on and off, thats if they aren’t using voice control 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I was born two years after Hiroshima……I can remember when vodka came in one flavor….vodka….I use to have books upon books on my desk for research and now all I need is a mouse….that is great but if it ended today I still have my books and that is forever with me. chuq

    Liked by 2 people

  6. A friend’s daughter saw one of these phones for the first time when she was about 7 or 8, it was so funny/sweet to see her like her little fingers in the holes to press the number.

    I tell you two other things that teenagers perhaps have not seen before are matches and a bar of soap

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Funny video, Pete! Yes, i worry about the future generations too. A lot of youngsters will get no chance to learn the productive usage of new media and computers. Even if i hear “Apps” i get crazy. There is no software called “App”, and a App itself is not more as a short piece of code connecting to internet hosts. Unfortunately, smartphones are currently only useful and expensive sardine cans. So at any rate we should use these parts, which are 1000 times better than the computers with which the first moon landing had been organized. Best wishes, Michael

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Bu I guess Pete, in terms of other things, we were luckier growing up than they are now. Not experiencing traffic, playing on the streets, walking and playing in the rain and such things. Ah those black and white dial up phones, and party lines too. When you want to call long distance you have to go to a booth of a phone company.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Fun video though kind of painful to watch! 🙂 It really wasn’t so long ago that we used those rotary dial phones right? And how about television in black and white, with 3 or 4 local channels to choose from? No ‘surfing’ as you had to get up, walk over to the TV and turn the knob to change the channel. So many changes in our lifetime, not all good of course, but changes nonetheless. I think we all are too tethered too technology now and hopefully keep all the good manual systems in working order in reserve!

    Liked by 4 people

      1. True! I guess I was thinking on a more basic level like food, water, books, matches, candles, etc. We are pretty helpless when the grid goes down. A power outage for a few days humbles all of us! We had them here recently due to windstorms though our place wasn’t impacted much.

        Liked by 2 people

  10. I was born a year after the Dirigible Hindenburg exploded at Lakehurst, New Jersey and one year before Hitler invaded Poland so I am familiar with technology shock.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I’m a moderate person. I rarely put both feet into anything–for better or for worse. Like most everyone, my business is dependent on a lot of the latest technology; I learn it because I have to. There are some things, though, that I purposely stay old school on. I pay most of my bills by check, I rarely use GPS and I still send cards and letters through the mail.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think it is good to make the best use of technology, Pam, but also to stay grounded in the basics, just in case. It seems that you walk the line between the two nicely, and that’s a good thing. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. I suppose when you think about it, when we were at school we didn’t get taught to write with a feather quill and ink in copperplate, or have to connect to a switchboard to have calls put through on the telephone, or have to drive a horse and cart or even a motorcar with a handle to start it up. But I bet our elders moaned we didn’t know how!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I didn’t use a quill, but I did use a metal ‘nib pen’ and inkwell, and the milkman used a horse and cart, as did the coal-man. My Dad’s first car was a 1936 Wolesley, and used a starting handle to fire it up. Maybe I’m just getting too old, but I really do worry about the current generation. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I have every faith in them Pete, of course there’ll be numpties, there always are, but I look at my 16 yr old granddaughter who religiously follows an awful boy band, but still manages to aces her history homework on WW2, there is hope Pete. They may not know or be what we were and are, but they will make the future work for them, as did we. If it all goes to ratshit they’ll figure things out, maybe not as we would, but somehow.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Glad to hear that you can have faith, based on personal experience. I don’t have that close contact with the younger generation, so have little to base it on except what I see around me. 🙂
          Best wishes, Pete.

          Liked by 1 person

  13. Our first phone was a party line with 8 families. When our grandkids come to visit, we cut the tech and do things with our hands. We walk, explore, learn about plants and bugs and learn to love the outdoors. Everything in moderation.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I remember party lines too, Maggie. You had to press a button to hear if someone else was already speaking. I still remember our first ever phone number in London too, BER 5889.
      Glad to hear you do great things with your grandchildren. They will remember those much more than computer games.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. We had a power cut at work the other day, and it really made me think about how reliant we are on electricity and technology today. I dread to think what will happen if something bad happens and we lose power for good. It’s also sad that so many people today can’t go a few minutes without using/checking phones or other devices.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Pete, I think I’ve posted this before, but I worked with a team of very young professionals, and they have never had a checkbook, will never write a letter, and have never had a home phone. Their entire world is online and mobile – and I have also said before, there will be big problems if there is any sort of power outage lasting longer than a few hours. It is, for the most part, a generation that looks down and into the blue glow of their device. They don’t write, use pencil or pen, or bother to learn anything much before it’s all right there in their hand.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Well John, all I can say is that I hope the big power ‘outage’ never happens. For they will surely be lost souls. 🙂
      (Perhaps I can charge them to write letters for them, and show them how to draw cash out from the counter in a bank?)
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

  16. This post reminds of the YouTube channel called ‘primitive technology’… Where they show vids on how to use/build all sorts of things using primitive ‘tech’. It’s interesting, and about 100 generations before the phone in question.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. So many changes, and not all for the good. Last summer when our grandchildren visited, I found our old rotary dial phone in the basement and plugged it into our land line connection – it worked! And, watching the children figure out what to do in order to make a phone call was a treat!

    Liked by 3 people

  18. I grew up as you did. I am a violin teacher at a school, and teach 300 kids a week. This is what I see -society is losing a lot of skils with the conveniences we have. Few things even require two steps to operate. We needn’t plan ahead anymore for our food nor repair what is broken. Oh I could go on and on but, what I see is people know a lot less than they used to-We may have a lot of facts about the world, but living in it . . .well that is another post! Best wishes always, Michele

    Liked by 3 people

  19. It makes me wonder why terrorists resort to bombing etc. when if they really wanted to cause chaos into the world all they need to do is bring down the banks. We saw a glimpse of the chaos caused a week or so ago when O2 had a signal failure. Imagine what would happen if none of our credit/debit cards worked and we couldn’t get online!

    Liked by 2 people

          1. An interesting article. Always amuses me how often “a well-known hacker is now a strategist at security firm…” I wonder how protected / responsive our government are for an attack like this.

            Liked by 1 person

  20. I watched that video elsewhere yesterday or the day before. The two teenagers were really perplexed by something that for the rest of us is so amazingly simple. I’m actually quite a bit behind you in terms of understanding and using the latest technology. I began using dedicated word processors and personal computers early on, but haven’t really evolved since then.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I doubt you are behind me at all, David. As far as computers are concerned, blogging is my high water mark! 🙂 (And I only achieved that with help from others. If they force the new editor on us, I will be lost again.)
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. I remember when the internet came out! Blue peter did a section on it and I thought it was some cool hack to do on word and was so disappointed when it didn’t work! I also remember using google for the first time in my English language a level class and searching for something and only getting 12 returns on my search! (I was doing a piece on the Angel of the North!) and I remember when Chanel 5 was coming out! The waiting for it to go live was excruciating and had the Spice Girls on the bit before it started broadcasting! Lol! Showing my age now 🙄🙈 xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you want to talk about showing age, Suzi, I was well over 40 years old when I first logged on to a computer. I didn’t get a mobile phone until I was 43, and didn’t own a computer (my first laptop) until I was 52. 🙂 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m always blown away by how quickly technology took over and has entered our lives! And how quickly mobile phones and other devices have gotten so much more clever with what they do! And how much we now rely on these devices day to day! Xx

        Liked by 1 person

  22. We have been taught in primary school how to use a rotary-dial phone. And we only had two TV channels and no remote control. Gosh, that’s fifty five years back, now. But I’m pretty sure I still could handle a rotary-dial phone. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am sure you could, Kerin. I know I could! 🙂
      Remember how those two channels almost always had something good to watch? Now we have 100+ channels of repeats, with rarely many good things to see. And we got a little exercise, by having to walk across the room to change the programme, or adjust the volume. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. I remember reading a story in Issac Asimov’s series, I Robot when I was a teen in which the robot was a detective sent to a planet where humans were separated from one another (contact was repulsive, I do not recall how procreation was handled) to investigate a murder. The picture you paint today of reliance on technology to meet human wants leads down a path ending in a world depicted in that particular Asimov short story he wrote during the 1940s and 1950s and published in one of two pulp Sci-fi magazines and later collected into a book with the title I Robot (not at all like the movie by the same name, although the movie could have been one of his other stories in the series).
    Warmest regards, Theo

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I had to stop myself from shouting at them to pick up the receiver! I have a black phone like that and love it but it’s no good when making calls which require you press buttons to be put through. I have a more modern one for that.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The companies have ‘forced’ us to adapt, by using their “Press number” recordings, Mary. But it’s good to know that you still have a phone you can use without depending on it being ‘charged’. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m actually quite worried about having to buy a new car because of all the technology there is in the latest models. The one I own is a 10 year old diesel automatic, no parking assist (though I wouldn’t mind that) and really too big for where I now live. But changing it gives me nightmares!!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. We are apprehensive too, but yesterday took the plunge and signed up to trade in our 11 year old car for one with electronic handbrake, satnav, parking sensors, cruise control, stop-start engine, rain sensing wipers, automatic headlights and so on (but couldn’t cope with having an automatic gear box!). Am actually now looking forward to getting it having taken several months and numerous test drives to come round to the idea. I’ve written several posts on this general theme (e.g. “old and new cars”, “Siemens A55”) if Pete will forgive me from using his comments to promote my own blog.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I shall pop over to your blog and see what you have to say! My current car does have rain-sensors and cruise control – not that much use in the county where we have no motorways though! I moved to an automatic gearbox when I had a frozen left shoulder and couldn’t use a manual stick without considerable pain. I’d probably struggle with a manual car now!

          Liked by 1 person

        2. No problem, Tasker. Feel free to ‘engage’ whenever you want. That’s what I like about blogging.
          I hope all those wonder gadgets on your new car prove to be reliable. 🙂
          Best wishes, Pete.

          Like

      2. Similar to my situation, with a big (people carrier) automatic diesel that will be 12 years old in June. I love driving it, but really should think about changing it for something not so old. But it will be such a major chunk out of our savings, as well as possible monthly payments, I am reluctant to bite the bullet and buy something different. Given the change in government attitude to diesels, I would suggest you go for a petrol model, Jude.
        Julie is very pleased with her Hyundai. Hers is a manual, but automatic versions are on sale. Like this one, for example.
        https://used.hyundai.co.uk/model-search/Hyundai/i20/page1/14-SE-100-PS-5-Door-s4buzw8?model=1446&gears=1%7C%7C7&gas=1%7C%7C7&zip=NR20%204EZ&radius=2000&view=list
        Best wishes, Pete. x

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks Pete. I am considering an electric or hybrid model, they are very expensive but the OH has deferred his state pension so we are hoping there will be enough in the lump sum to purchase a car with. I reckon a new one should last the rest of my life!! (Or driving life at least…)

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Do some research about the batteries. They don’t last forever, and replacing them (full electric, or hybrid) can be frighteningly expensive. One of my friends had a Toyota Prius, the new model. When he died, his partner got shot of it, in case he needed to fork out for any battery replacements. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Yes, there are a lot of things to consider like distance covered too and sufficiency of power points. Alright locally as we don’t have to go far and can charge at home, but long distance driving would be a whole different story. We could of course keep the old car, but then there is the expense of tax, MOT, service, insurance still.

              Liked by 1 person

          2. I seem to remember that Renault offer a leasing system on the batteries so that you dont have to worry about a big bill replacing them in the future. Also the running and maintenance costs of electric are far less than petrol or diesel, so it may even work out paying for itself over time (depending on mileage).

            Liked by 2 people

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