Changes Through My Life

That’s an important point not to be missed. Many things that did exist have been democratized by sharply falling prices.

When I was a kid, I’d ask my parents what their life was like growing up. I heard their words and knew their world was quite different. I never fully understood how much things had changed.

They listened to the radio, which was programmed like television… well, like television used to be when it was dominated by scripted programs. “We used our imaginations,” my mother would say. I’m sure they did. That kind of radio didn’t stand a chance when TV came along.

I was reading an article in the paper tonight which, reminded me of those conversations with my folks and made me think of how I’d answer that question today. How has the world changed since my childhood?

A short list of things that didn’t exist, or weren’t available to me:

  • Computers
  • Microwaves
  • Satellites/Astronauts
  • Cable TV
  • Remote Control
  • Affordable long distance phone service
  • Affordable airfare
  • VCRs/DVRs
  • Any digital media
  • Touchtone phones
  • Seatbelts/Padded Dash/Crumple Zones
  • Transistors/ICs/LSI
  • Fruit in the winter
  • Single Serve Bottled Water
  • McDonalds, etc
  • Family safe/friendly Times Square
  • Answering machines/Voicemail
  • Credit Cards

I looked around the room while I typed that. So many of the things I’m looking at were unavailable or unaffordable to most people.

That’s an important point not to be missed. Many things that did exist have been democratized by sharply falling prices. Nothing is more amazing than what’s happened to long distance rates.

In 1950, New York-LA, 5 minute call: $3.70, 10 minute call: $6.70. Tack on inflation and New York-LA, 5 minute call in 1950, in 2003 dollars: $28.19, 10 minute call: $51.04!

Businesses needed workers a lot more back then. Workers are expensive. Bosses looked to replace as many as they could. They couldn’t. We weren’t in competition with China. Hell, we weren’t speaking to China. International shipping was a nightmare.

My parents made their younger years sound romantic. That’s not what I see when I look back. There’s little of anything I’d want reverted to its original state. Today is better than yesterday.

People are scared of terrorism today, but we were scared of the Soviets and “the bomb.” Are the potential consequences really any different? Do they hate us any less?

I don’t know where the next changes will come from, but there’s no doubt more innovation is on the way. The long term future is unpredictable. Maybe that’s what makes it so much fun.

5 thoughts on “Changes Through My Life”

  1. here’s a list of things you forgot to mention:

    ginsu knives

    chia pets

    the clapper



    duct tape

    laser pointers

    parachute pants

    rubik’s cube

    sea monkeys


    mullet haircuts

    Chuck E. Cheese



    Scratch ‘n Sniff Stickers

    “Members Only” jackets


    The Macarena

    on a serious note, the only things I’d have added to your list would be birth control pills and viagra.

  2. I was born in 1951 and I thought we were contemporaries, but I guess you are younger than I thought because satellites and astronauts (and cosmonauts) were definitely a part of my geeky/nerdy childhood.

    73 de WA1LOU

    PS: The “captcha” to submit this comment is JA3PKB; I think I worked him on 20 meters!

  3. I remember the TV being brought into my classroom at PS163 so we could watch Alan Shepard blast off into space. But I was already 5th or 6th grade.

    I was born 7/26/50.

  4. Here’s another kind of list:

    The right to go to school regardless of race (1954).

    The right to vote without paying a poll tax (1964).

    The right to vote regardless of race (1965).

    The right to marry regardless of race (1967).

    The right to vote at eighteen years old (1971).

    The right to a safe, legal abortion (1973).

  5. I was born in ’53. I often think about the changes we’ve seen in our lives but I wonder most about what profession I would’ve chosen had I had a computer!!! I spent hours in the library as a kid “looking things up” as the teachers told us and now, I can research anything with the click of a button. It’s really something to think about our kids and grandkids lives!! Evi

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