Technology moves so fast that things that were commonplace just a short time ago have disappeared from current culture. Or if they have not disappeared completely their popularity and use has either declined or changed dramatically. On the other hand, sometimes changes in laws and public opinion have caused the disappearance of some phenomena. A number of things come to mind that were once the norm and now are almost completely non-existent. Some of them are very recent changes and others are a little older. This week’s List of 10 itemizes some of those changes.
Do You Remember….
1. Making collect calls? Mostly a relic from before cell phones, a collect call (or reverse charge call) was made and the expense was charged to the person who received the call rather than to the caller. Collect calls were often placed by people who were away from home and did not have other means to place a call. Today inmates in institutions are among those who are most likely to place collect calls.
2. Having a portable phone with an antenna? Before smart phones and flip phones there were large, bulky cell phones that looked like a small club. They had antennas that needed to be extended to get any reception. Along with these dinosaurs were “bag phones” in the 90’s which were huge but more transportable than anything that had preceded them.
3. Station wagons? Families used to load lots of kids in stations wagons. Many times the children sat in the back, unrestrained, in he cargo area possibly with the back window open. The kids could move around or lay down and change positions which made long trips much easier to endure. Station wagons were popular before SUV’s. There was no concern about making sure that the children had car seats or restraints. Although they can still be seen today it is primarily just a few dinosaurs that are still in operation. Many of today’s newer designed SUV’s resemble station wagons but there are restraints in each spot where it would be appropriate for children to sit.
4. Cigarette vending machines? They used to be as common as candy machines and soda machines. I recall seeing them all over. Now in the United States they can only be found in places where children under the age of 18 are not allowed. They are also restricted in many other countries.
5. Smoking on airplanes? Through the 1960’s smoking was allowed on all planes. United Airlines had the first nonsmoking section in 1971. The first ban of smoking in the U.S. was imposed in 1988 on domestic flights of two hours or less. In 1990 it was extended to domestic flights of six hours or less. Not until 2000 was smoking banned on all domestic and international flights.
6. Trying to get correct directions to find a location for the first time? “Turn left on Main Street. Go through three stop lights and then turn left on Elm Street. Go two blocks and turn right on Wisconsin Avenue. Then there is an immediate left turn on to Howard Place. The house is the 3rd house on the left. It is white with black shutters.” The greatest development in recent years has been GPS. It really has increased my efficiency in finding places and I now I am rarely lost. I know some people still do not have GPS, and I only have had it for about 2 years, but I don’t know how I ever got by without it.
7. Boom boxes? Portable music has come a long, long way. The huge combination radio, tape players (and later CD players) with as big of speakers as possible to make music be as loud as possible have basically disappeared as portable music. They used to be a status symbol for America’s youth. Developments in electronics made it unnecessary to carry around such large and heavy audio equipment The are still around but you are not likely to see people carrying them around.
8. Shooting a roll of film and taking it in to be developed? Serious photographers may still use film but obviously digital photographer and quality cameras on cell phones have taken over for the casual photographer.
9. Flashbulbs or flash cubes on photography equipment? I recall a time when most family snapshots were taken outside because flash photography indoors was not very reliable. Of course today most cameras use electronic flashes and many modern cameras have automatic functions where the flash is activated if needed. Professional photographers may still use separate flash bulbs but they have disappeared for the most part for the casual photographer.
10. Typewriters? Generations of college students prepared papers and thesis and assignments by using a typewriter, either manual or electric. Typewriters were the standard equipment in offices for decades. Although they can still be found especially for die-hards who cannot give up something they are comfortable with, typewriters have largely been replaced by computers and word processing programs. I recall doing papers in college and getting to the bottom of the page and finding out that I had not left enough room for the mandatory footnotes so the entire page had to be re-typed. Or finding a huge grammatical error very early in the paper that could not be corrected by squeezing in another word. I am not sure today’s students and administrative assistants really understand and appreciate how “cut and paste” has made producing papers and documents so much easier.
There are a ton of other items that can be added to this list. I am curious about what comes to your mind as you think of things that have disappeared from modern culture.