Blog #2-Old and New Media

For this interview, I spoke to a 69 year old man named Dennis Brooks who told me his background story about his relationship with technology.
At Dennis’ age, the telephone was just beginning to emerge and within his household, he had only a dial phone, contrasted with the cell phone we have today. His ability to communicate wirelessly on the phone was limited with party lines.  Brooks’ recounts, “When I was young we had the dial phone with party lines. This meant that up to 4 different people would share a phone line. You would have to pick up the phone and listen to find out if someone else wasn’t already on the line.” His telephone experience is vastly different from what I experience today for the need to share a phone line is obsolete.  He mentions the changes the telephones has undergone.  Brooks observes, “The next change in the phone was the touch phone, which we still use today, if one has a land line phone.  Until the wall phone became available, one didn’t have much freedom of movement with their phone.  The next big thing with the phone was the hand held phone which let one move about with the phone.  You could even go outside with that phone, but it only had a range of about 50′.”
The record player and radio were two devices Dennis used to listen to music and explains how they functioned.  He details, “The player normally had three speeds: 45 rpm (revolutions per minute), 78 rpm and 33 1/3 rpm (better known as the album).  The record player was what was called mono.  The next step was what was call hi-fidelity.  The was still mono, but a crisper clear sound.  It wasn’t that much longer and the stereo sound showed up.  As you know, we still have stereo now, but it has been so fined tune.  Things progressed quite rapidly in the 1960s.  The cassette tape, real to real tape and 8 track where introduced.  The cassette lasted the longest even though the real to real held much more music.  The real to real was a very large system and took up a lot of space, which the cassette system didn’t. The cassettes gave way to the CDs and the rest is history.”
He talks about how the radio was used when he states, “When I was young everybody had a radio.  The radio gave us the news and various type of entertainment programs (i.e. variety shows, drama, comedy, etc) everything that TV now does.  At first, radio was just AM and just broadcast in mono.  In the 1960s FM was introduced and when stereo came about FM offered stereo broadcasts.  In the 60s the portable radio was introduced, but it was quiet large.  As time progressed so did the radio.  The portable became smaller and smaller and various types were marketed.” As Brooks attests, the radio has evolved  from an unwieldy piece of machinery to a portable device one can listen to on the go.  It’s interesting to learn how both the radio and record player has transformed over the years.
Television was yet another technological innovation Dennis enjoyed as an adolescent for he was fortunate to be the first person whose family owned a television set. Since not everyone could readily afford television sets for they were quite expensive, he was exposed to the features a television offered. He compared the small screen size with black and white programming with the colored versions we have today. “Color television didn’t appear until the 1960s”, Brooks recalls.  Though Brooks experienced this technology with pride, this luxury didn’t come without problems such as having the picture tubes burn out, resulting in technicians to make house calls to resolve the issue.  Also, Brooks comments,  “To watch TV, antennas were needed.” Wow! Back then, antennas were hoisted to make a connection; otherwise you would have no T.V shows to watch! I don’t know if I would particulary enjoy my favorite T.V shows if they were only played in black and white. Quite dull and boring, right?
Television has surely changed Brooks’ viewing habits “because I can visit places around the world from the comfort of my home, as well as get the news as it happens.” Not only can he receive  news stories, but absorb educational information and relax with entertaining programs. He reflects on the impact television has on society today: “Television let families enjoy various types of entertainment in their homes. This saved them money because, prior to TV, families had to go to movie theaters or drive-ins to see movies.  Even though it didn’t cost that much to see movies, if the family had a baby or toddler, it made it hard to sit through a movie.  It was much nicer to see people acting out what we used to only hear on the radio.”
Brooks appreciates how the music industry evolution. “I like being able to download music onto a music device such as an mps player.  These devices are small, hold music, and can be taken anywhere, unlike the previous devices that would not fit in ones pocket.”
This interview shed light on how our daily technologies have evolved into portable, effiecient, and faster innovations. I learned how the media that was used in the past is in stark contrast to what it is in the present. The most surprising fact I learned was the dial phone with party lines. To have four different people talk on the same line would be inconvenient for one had to check to ensure no more than four people were on the same line. What if I wanted to talk on the phone, but four people were already on the line? Additionally, antennas to stay connected meant constant supervision to ensure the antennas were functioning. If they weren’t working, watching my favorite television shows would be impossible. Bummer! This fact made me appreciate the technology I do have now, since the sophisticated versions were nonexistent during the early years.
Dennis’ account of his media usage revealed to me how much technology has changed since its humble beginnings. The cell phone, flat-screen T.V., iPod, DVR, among others, started with primitive features and grew into more advanced machines.


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