Flashback Friday: Inventions

Mocha With Linda hosts a weekly meme called Flashback Friday. She’ll post a question every Thursday, and then Friday we can link our answers up on her site. You can visit her site for more Flashbacks.

The prompt for today is:

What new inventions or technology came out when you were growing up that you remember being amazed at? Were your parents “early adopters”–did they get the “latest and greatest” pretty quickly or did they stick with the “tried and true”? What are some things that you remember being a big deal when your family got them? (These may be items like stereos or kitchen equipment or bigger things such as carpet.) Were your folks prone to updating their furniture periodically or did they keep their old furniture forever? How was the way they were raised impact the way you were raised? And how did your upbringing influence the way you are today?

I do remember when the first microwaves came out when I was a teen-ager. The family of a friend got one as a gift, and the dad was a little suspicious of them: he said he “could taste the microbes.” It was a while before we got one. At first everyone used them just for heating leftovers, but then people got a little more adventurous with them, and before long microwavable food proliferated in the stores. I remember at first this tannish plastic stuff was touted as microwave safe dishes (I just finally got rid of mine last month after not using it for years), but eventually people learned you could put anything in there except metal and some plastics.

I saw the transition in filming from only a few people having 16mm reel to reel films to many people having clunky video cameras on tripods (every school program or recital looked like a press conference) to almost everyone having a smaller hand-held video recorder to these days most people filming with their camera or cell phone.

I didn’t have central heating or AC or automatic dishwashers growing up (my aunt had central AC and I thought that was the height of luxury). We had fans going constantly in summer time and big clunky gas heaters in each room for heat during winter. It was a tremendous blessing to get an electric typewrite to replace my manual one in college. Diet sodas were limited and tasted awful. McDonald’s was a restaurant before my time but Happy Meals were introduced the year I was married, 1979.

Phones used to be rotary dialed with a twisted cord, and it was great when they invented longer cords so one could move about the house a bit more while talking. Of course, then came cordless phones (it’s funny to see an old TV show and remember how big and clunky they were at first) and eventually cell phones. Car phones originally required installation .

I remember in college having to accumulate punched cards about the size of a business envelope for registration. It was a really big deal that the science lab had a computer students could use. Personal computers were coming out right about the time I graduated from college, and we had an early Vic 20 and Commodore 64. The screens were dark and the letters were green and the only computer game was Pong. It’s amazing how much we played that!

The Hula Hoop was invented the year after I was born. Nondairy creamer was invented when I was 4, audio cassettes when I was 5 (although I remember my dad sending reel-to-reel audio cassettes back and forth to his brother in Viet Nam), permanent press fabric when I was 7, compact disks when I was 8 (though I don’t think they were widely used for years), the first hand-held calculator when I was 10, the ATM and bar-code scanner when I was 12, the VCR when I was 14, post-it notes when I was 17, cell phones and Walkmans when I was 22, the Apple MacIntosh when I was 27, Doppler radar when I was 31, answering machines when I was 34 (all of that info. came from this site.) It’s amazing how much of that we take for granted these days and how fast the technology for some of it advanced.

Whenever I go to a baby shower I am amazed at what has been invented since I had babies. A lot of it is really neat — sippy cups and portable car seats that double as a carrier and those little plastic things that help a baby sit up in a tub. But sometimes I want to reassure new moms that they really don’t need everything that’s out there. But I suppose we don’t really need all of any of the things that we have that are new inventions — yet we quickly learn to depend on them.

In my younger years money was tighter and my dad wasn’t inclined to get the latest “new thing.” When my mom and step-dad married, the money woes eased over time and they were a little quicker to get a new appliance or something but it just depended. I’m not so gadgety when it comes to kitchen and household things, but, again, it just depends on what it is and how expensive it is (it took me years to decide whether I wanted a George Foreman grill or not). All of the males in my family are very much into the latest technology, though, and are very much aware of when something new is coming. They usually don’t buy it right off the bat unless they can find a good deal on it — my husband is great at that. It used to be that any new technology was very expensive at first and then lowered in price over time, but it seems nowadays that doesn’t seem to be the case as much.

Furniture — both the family I came from and I tend to keep it until it’s pretty worn out before changing. I’m not one to rearrange furniture or decorations very much (it takes me too long to decide where to put things in the first place) though I am drawn to decorative things for the home and have to guard against accumulating too much.

This look back has been fun but makes me feel very old! Mostly I do enjoy the inventions that have proliferated over my lifetime.

5 thoughts on “Flashback Friday: Inventions

  1. Yes, ONE phone in the house, and it was bolted to the wall. 🙂 Always hated phone numbers that had a lot of zeros in them. lol AND if you had a “party line” as we did, you needed to wait your turn!

    We did not get a microwave in our house (or an air conditioner…and we never did get a clothes dryer or dishwasher) until I was in college. Remember how HUGE they were at first?!

    My kids find it funny that we did not watch movies at home when I was a kid. No VCR? No DVD player? And if you missed the Charlie Brown Christmas special, you had to wait until next year to see it (now we have a copy on DVD)! Gasp!

    There were the days of lp’s…”record albums”. Eight tracks, anyone? 🙂 Now my daughter has a phone that does a whole lot more than call people…you can listen to tons of stored music, watch movies, store photos…wow.

    I was also telling my daughter about how I learned BASIC (computer language) in high school, and that we called on the phone to hook up with a main frame computer at a university…what used to take up a whole room is now miniscule in size!

    Amazing stuff. And we’ve only been around for half a century, Barbara!

  2. It’s such fun reading everyone’s memories. My husband keeps up with the newest gadgets, but he doesn’t buy them until the second or third generation when the price has come down and the kinks have been worked out!

    Besides a princess phone, which I never got, I also wanted a phone that hung on the wall. Ours just sat on the corner of the buffet. And I don’t remember how old I was when they quit saying letters for the first two digits of the phone number (like MI5-2187).

  3. I totally hear you when you say “sometimes I want to reassure new moms that they really don’t need everything that’s out there.” It’s not just new mom’s that struggle with the idea that they need ever technology/gadget/toy out there. It frustrates me to see so many of my peers going into debt thinking that they need to have all the gadgets and technologies their parents have accumulated over a lifetime RIGHT NOW.

    I think we’re a generation who might do better learning that you can live without…without big screen televisions and dishwashers and microwaves, fancy cameras, and flashy cars, surround sound and a special machine to cook everything you can imagine!

  4. Oh ya, remember those video cameras! I have photos of my husband at a wedding and he was using one of those video cameras (I guess someone wanted to photograph the videographer?) Seeing as how small camcorders are today those must have been a trip to carry around! Thanks for that memory!

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