Good old days of rotary phones and party lines

It’s amazing what we take for granted that was unheard of just a few years ago.

The younger generation has no idea what rotary phones or party lines are. They are as foreign to them as 8-track tapes and black-and-white TV.

Most young people do not write letters. Instead they text, email or make a phone call on their cell phone.

Letter writing is a dying art. It started to go downhill during my generation and is almost unheard of.

I ran across an old letter the other day that had no zip code and no numeric street address. It was sent with 2-cents worth of postage. Imagine getting anything through the mail today without a specific street address or zip code.

Time marches on. What is new today will more than likely be replaced within a few years.

Take the music business for example. It’s gone from long-playing records to downloadable tunes over a period of 100 years, with most innovations occurring over the past 50 years.  I grew up listening to long-playing (LP) and 45-rpm records, and when 8-track tapes came out in my teen years, I thought nothing could be better. Not long after, cassette tapes made the bulky 8-track tapes obsolete.
Actually, the compact audiocassette, invented in 1962, was around before the 8-track tape, which was introduced for cars in 1964 and home players in 1968. Eventually the cassette overtook 8-track tapes in popularity and by 1988, no record clubs offered 8-track tapes.

Cassette tapes were around for many years before the next innovation, CDs (compact discs), came along. Nothing had revolutionized music as much, at least that’s what I thought.
CDs were actually invented way back in 1982 in Japan and not introduced in the U.S. until the following year. By 1985, LP sales had dropped 25 percent and in one more year, CD sales surpassed LP sales.

It’s becoming harder and harder to find a record player or record store.

The digital versatile disc (DVD) was introduced in 1996 and by 1999, its sound rivaled that of CDs. Another major innovation, the Motion Picture Expert Group Audio Layer III, or MP3 player, appeared on shelves in 1999.

In 2001, music DVDs were in record stores. That same year Apple Computer began selling its upgraded MP3 player, the iPod, which would change the music business once again.

When Apple introduced iTunes, the downloadable music market exploded. On Feb. 22, 2006, Apple sold its one-billionth song.

Most people born since 1985 have never played a record, an 8-track tape or even a cassette tape. CDs are still around, but most people in the younger generation prefer MP3 players with iPod at the top of the list.

A lot has happened in the world of music over the past 50 years, which is pale in comparison to what has happened in the world of television over the same time period.

Many things that we think are irreplaceable and indispensable will become obsolete before we actually figure out how to use them.


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