Recently I saw an interesting exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York: Analog City: NYC B.C. (Before Computers).
It was an interesting walk down memory lane, and the interactive exhibits really captured the imagination of the younger visitors. (There was a manual typewriter that the kids absolutely couldn’t get enough of.)
I can’t blame them. I miss the tactile and especially aural aspects of manual typewriters. And if you do, as well, you can put it in your keyboard! See here.
It’s hard to grasp, for we digital immigrants and for the digital natives, how completely technology has changed our lives and even our frames of reference about time, about privacy, about autonomy.
Old school technology
It was poignant for me as a journalist to walk through the exhibit and see an actual linotype machine and other examples of old school journalism on display. It was funny to see the display of how the stock market worked before tech and day trading. (Why on earth was there a sign forbidding the wearing of straw hats?)
There was even a display of telephones, from the old school ‘candlestick” to the Princess line (Ooh, it comes in colors!!) and beyond. There was one exhibit that was a bit of a gut punch. An ordinary payphone, like the ones we all used so routinely, in an exhibit like it was the Rosetta Stone.
And speaking of Rosetta Stones, remember….slide rules and adding machines?
I found myself thinking of all the ‘old school’ technology I miss.
Technology: Hit or Miss
It was a chance to reflect on technology, how it helps us (all the world’s knowledge at your fingertips in a phone!) and how it….doesn’t. Social media has a body count.
I found myself thinking of all the ‘old school’ technology I miss. I miss old school phones and the privacy they offered. I miss the satisfying ‘bing!” at the end of a line on a manual typewriter.
I even miss the sounds of earlier technologies, that remind me of, for instance, the innocence and excitement of the early days of the internet. (You, too?Here’s a link to a website of obsolete sounds.)
TV News with Substance
I miss – I’m being real honest here – I miss TV news shows that had a certain degree of decorum. (Hello, David Susskind.)
I miss VCR tapes and Blockbuster, when I could curate my entertainment according to my whims, instead of settling for what some cable company decides. (You try finding Throne of Blood or the Samurai Trilogy now!)
And I really miss technology applications you could buy and own that stayed around for a while without constant iterations/upgrades that make all my other tech out of date. (I have two computers that still run Windows XP, thank you.)
I do like having the ability to record important moments on my phone. I wish the technology was around when my late husband and I ran trivia challenges at an uptown bar! But I don’t like how recording life is becoming a substitute for living it.
But that’s me. What old school technology do you miss? Let us know in the comments!
Virge Randall is Senior Planet’s Managing Editor. She is also a freelance culture reporter who seeks out hidden gems and unsung (or undersung) treasures for Straus Newspapers; her blog “Don’t Get Me Started” puts a quirky new spin on Old School New York City. Send Open Thread suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.