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Communication - Then -Now
Old 09-21-2014, 09:20 AM   #1
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Communication - Then -Now

Progress...
What do you remember?
Pony express?
Telegraph?
Penny Post cards?
The three cent stamp?
Phone Booths?
Telephone operators?
Party Lines?
Dial Phones?
CB Radios?
Cell phones?
Internet?

But through all of this, your perspective as to how each step has changed your life... what you do... how you spend your time... and what has happened to inter personal relationships along the way.
Finally, for better or for worse?

Some foresight from this 1926 German cartoon.
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File Type: jpg 1926 German Cartoon.jpg (147.9 KB, 56 views)
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Old 09-21-2014, 09:30 AM   #2
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It makes me sad when I go to a nice restaurant and I see a couple sitting opposite, both on their smart phones. But if they are happy doing it......
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Old 09-21-2014, 09:39 AM   #3
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For starters:
Of course advanced communications have changed our lives... mostly for the better, but what about how we spend our personal time? How important is it to know what we spend time watching and listening?

New studies are looking at the positives and negatives of being connected. Our own perspective is somewhat limited to watching people at the mall, or in group situations. For young people... school age, the amount of time spent looking at screens is becoming a worrisome issue for those charged with teaching, and for those who observe a change in socialization.

Broad brushing changes doesn't work, but IMHO, the advances may be outrunning the understanding... not just here in the U.S., but worldwide, often skipping over the cultural change that only comes with time.

What does this have to do with early retirement? What do you see ahead for the next 20 or 30 years of your life?
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Old 09-21-2014, 09:51 AM   #4
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I remember growing up long distance calls were "special" and both parties would exclaim about how they sounded so close. Long distance prices came down, fiber and digital improved sound quality - now we take it for granted that we can call other continents and have a clear signal.

My husband grew up with a party line till he was about 15.

I worked at a motel that had the old plug in switch board... so I'd have to manually switch incoming calls to the room, and I'd have to dial outgoing calls for guests. (Imagine the thing that Lilly Tomlin used to sit in front of on Laugh In... "Is this the party to whom I am speaking?") That was in the early 80's.

I definitely remember dial phones. I also remember the phone company owning the phones - and if you wired in another extension, you better hide it if the phone company repair guy came out. (My dad used some expletives when the repair guy cut a line that fed 2 extensions that were home wired.)

I remember internet prior to WWW - back in the days of dial up and bbs's.

My dad had a CB in his pickup - but that's because he used to do off road/back country trips solo - so it was for safety.... good buddy.

My kids and I have had discussions about phone booths. There are still a few around - and I had to explain them. I told them we need phone booths so superman doesn't flash us.
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Old 09-21-2014, 10:52 AM   #5
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When I was quite young, we sometimes lived with my grandmother in the coal country of southeast Ohio. She had a party line telephone -- two longs and two shorts was our signal. I recall that you weren't supposed to listen in on the line, but people always did, so there was a lot of "coded" talk. I also recall that when my mother wanted to call her mother and sister in England, it always involved two or three intermediate operators and took a long time.

Later, when we moved to Hawaii in 1966, there were so few telephones that our phone number had only six digits. There also was no such thing as 911. If there was ever a fire, someone had to run down the block and pull the lever at the box mounted on the telephone pole.

When I went to college in 1977, students didn't have a phone of their own. Instead, there was one room on the first floor of the dorm that had a bunch of phone booths in it. You often had to stand in line, and you better be sure you had a lot of change in your pocket. Phone calls home were infrequent and short. I think that inability to communicate quickly or easily forced me to solve my own problems and was a positive step toward establishing my adult life. When I talk to colleagues with college aged children now, it seems like they are constantly on the phone with them, and the kids are often unable to grapple with college life on their own.
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Old 09-21-2014, 11:33 AM   #6
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Agree that lack of ability call mommy at a momments notice makes for self sufficiency.

67 entered the the Army, I wrote the obligatory letter home as directed by the platoon sergeant. Never called home in basic training or AIT. I think the entire three years in I called home once.

Letters back and forth around maybe every couple of months.

Know a family, their daughter, thirtysomething, married with children living is SF calls home to SW PA three or four times a week. Heck she calls mommy or daddy for plumbing problems! But mommy insists her daughter is really independent. Me theinks there is far too much communication.
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Old 09-21-2014, 11:58 AM   #7
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When I was a kid, telegrams were still common. I even had a friend who was a Western Union messenger, delivering them. When a telegram came into the office, it was printed out on a continuous strip, ALL CAPS, and the strip was cut into convenient lengths and pasted on the telegram form for hand delivery to the recipient.

At some point, the practice changed to eliminate all those delivery boys, and the Western Union office would simply call you on the phone and read the telegram to you. Everyone thought that was a shame, eliminating the drama of opening that yellow envelope that had just been handed to you.
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Old 09-21-2014, 12:05 PM   #8
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I worked at a remote fishing resort that had no land line, but had a radio telephone. It was a party line, so we had a distinctive ring (one long , two short). It was full duplex, and callers just dialed a number, like any other telephone call. But the voice quality was pretty bad.
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Old 09-21-2014, 12:08 PM   #9
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I remember chiseling out letters on a stone tablet.........Oh, no I don't.....

But in 1976 when I built our second house in Southbury, Connecticut, we were hooked to the Woodbury Phone Company and our phones did not have lighted dials. I remember DW asking the phone company how to get the dials to light up. Their answer was to switch out the phones to new ones that had an internal battery to light the dial.

Interestingly enough, own home did not have a street address. We were on Buck's Hill Road and had to paint our last name on the mailbox. Now who would do that today?
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Old 09-21-2014, 12:27 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by ls99 View Post

Know a family, their daughter, thirtysomething, married with children living is SF calls home to SW PA three or four times a week. Heck she calls mommy or daddy for plumbing problems! But mommy insists her daughter is really independent. Me theinks there is far too much communication.
I used to call my dad from another state to ask him about plumbing problems... He'd give me advise on how to fix it. And I'd fix it. Seems like it added to self sufficiency. As I got older, I started realizing my parents really did know more than me - and I went to them for advise. You could NOT have convinced me that I wasn't more knowlegable than them when I was in my late teens and early 20's though... I thought I knew it all.

I don't see where asking for advise (and deciding if it makes sense or not) is a sign of dependency. Seeking wisdom should always be encouraged.

As for the daughter above... is she asking for money? Is she asking for help to get by? If not - she is, indeed, independent... she just values her parents opinion.
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Old 09-21-2014, 12:34 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
Progress...
What do you remember?
Pony express?
Telegraph?
Penny Post cards?
The three cent stamp?
Phone Booths?
Telephone operators?
Party Lines?
Dial Phones?
CB Radios?
Cell phones?
Internet?
- I can remember using 4 cent stamps (still have some) in my stamp collection.

- Still remember phone booths since, as a kid, I checked every one I went by looking for nickels and dimes in the coin return. BTW, I can remember when phone calls were only 5 cents in New Orleans.

- Party lines - We were on a party line until I was about 10 years old.

- Dial phones, I still have a couple in storage.

- CB radios. I still use one on rare occasions

- Cell Phones - Been using them since they came out but I have never really liked them due to the poor voice quality and dropped calls. Back when I was working, many times I'd tell folks that called me in the office on their cell phones to call me back on a land line whenever the phone voice quality was bad enough. Which happened a lot.

- Internet - Love it. I was in IT communications all of my working life so in my case I grew up professionally with modems, computers and the Internet. I can remember when a 300 bps modem was "cool". When the 212a modem came out it would run up to 1200bps. I remember "analog" modem technology speeds increasing every few years from 1200bps to 2400 to 9600 to 14,400 to 28,800 to 33,600 then finally to 56,000. Then DSL started to come out. I have a good friend who also worked in IT all those years and we still talk about this "stuff" once in a while. Still good for a laugh now and then.
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Old 09-21-2014, 12:42 PM   #12
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I remember my parents deciding to instal a telephone when I was about 5 years old. They had to go on a waiting list for months, despite the fact that my Dad worked for the telephone company. Throughout the 1960s, long distance calls were very expensive and we would only make transatlantic calls when someone died, was born, or was very ill. However, ISTR that mail delivery was more efficient back then.
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Old 09-21-2014, 12:53 PM   #13
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Feeling a bit sensitive about communication as I recently took a whoopin' on it. It seems that it is not enough to carry a cell phone with me (mostly, unless I leave it in the car 'cause I feel like it. Nothing like replacing a 120V receptacle hot and having the phone go off in your pocket with vibration alert). Now I'm supposed to check the cell frequently to see if a text message has arrived. How frequently? This wasn't specified, but I am to respond most immediately to texts when they arrive.

Harumph. I appreciate to functionality of cell phones vs. hardwired phones, but the idea is that the phone is not tethered, and dammit, I don't want to be tethered either.
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Old 09-21-2014, 12:56 PM   #14
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ISTR that mail delivery was more efficient back then.
We had two deliveries a day, morning and afternoon.
During the three weeks before Christmas, there were five deliveries a day.
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Old 09-21-2014, 01:06 PM   #15
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I also remember the phone company owning the phones - and if you wired in another extension, you better hide it if the phone company repair guy came out.
Oh, wow - I remember that now. Each phone extension cost extra. Where I grew up, the same was true with the old cable TV hookups. People (including my Dad) would put in coax splitters so they could run the cable to other rooms in the house. And when you had the cable TV repairman out, you better hope he didn't find it or he'd report it back to the cable company and they'd increase your monthly bill.

Other things I remember:

Letters - Mom forcing us to write thank-you notes after getting Christmas, birthday, etc, gifts. She'd stand over us like a hawk making sure we took the time to write out a nice note, and not just scribble a quick "Thanks" and be done with it because we wanted to go back to playing with our new toys.

Long distance - By the time I came around, you pretty much did your own long distance calls yourself by just dialing the numbers. Operator assisted calls weren't common. But Mom would still remind us to do a "person-to-person" call when we called somebody. She also said to do a "reverse charges" or "third party charge" when we were away from home and needed to call somebody long distance so she'd get the bill.

Pay phones - I guess these are all but extinct nowadays. Almost every pay phone I see today has the handpiece ripped out and graffiti all over it. I do remember as a little kid always checking the coin return for change, and getting so excited when I found a nickle or dime in there. My Dad used to say "Go check that phone for change" and more times than not, I'd find a coin and get really excited! I suspected later he'd plant one in there and then tell me to go check it Kids now will never know that excitement.

Dial-up Internet - I remember the slow agonizing wait to see if the modem connected after all those beeps and buzzes. And if it didn't, doing that all over again. I also remember CompuServe, my first dial-up service. I even still remember my old CompuServe ID (72330,3433). Bonus points for anybody who still remembers theirs
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Old 09-21-2014, 01:19 PM   #16
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I just watched the series "the Roosevelts"...

Wonder if FDR and ER could have gotten a fraction of what they accomplished done if they, and everyone else, was staring at their palms all day.

It seems to me that all MOST people do today is "communicate" and not much else.
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Old 09-21-2014, 02:02 PM   #17
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I love that physical distance doesn't matter anymore.

I don't worry about the people staring at their palms. They would be staring at the TV in the room otherwise, or reading the paper. No difference.
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Old 09-21-2014, 02:41 PM   #18
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Fifteen years ago, I used to spend a fortune every month to call my family in Europe. Now it's virtually free with Skype. And I can see them! I think it's great.

I have not used a pay phone in 20-25 years.

My first memory of a phone was my parent's rotary dial (circa mid-1970s). Back then our phone number had 6 digits, instead of 10 today (my parents still have the number assigned to them in 1976, the telco simply added digits in front of the number throughout the years).

In the 80's I remember being in awe of all those cordless phones in American movies. They did not become ubiquitous in Europe until much later.

I was a late adopter of cell phones. But now, I feel a bit uneasy when I am in an area with no cell phone signal, as often happens when I go hiking.
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Old 09-21-2014, 02:57 PM   #19
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This is a fun topic, so I'm going to make a confession and hope "the authorities" don't send a SWAT team to my door.

Back in the 60s, all my friends (and I) carried a large sewing needle in our wallets.

Pay phones were ubiquitous, with a phone booth on practically every busy corner. At that time, the cord connecting the handset to the wall phone was a simple rubber-insulated cable.

You could insert the needle into that cable and wiggle it to short the wires together, and you would get a dial tone. Then you made your call for free.

If it was a long call and the operator came on the line to ask for another quarter, you simply stuck your needle in again and wiggled it. The operator heard it as inserting a quarter, and you were good to go.

Eventually, all the pay phones in the neighborhood had handset cables that were absolutely riddled with holes from all the needles being stuck in them. So along toward the end of the 60s, the phone company started replacing them with the armored cables that are on all pay phones today.

Yes, of course I'm deeply ashamed of my actions, and I realize that I will burn in hell for it, but it sure was cool at the time!
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Old 09-21-2014, 06:41 PM   #20
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Yes, of course I'm deeply ashamed of my actions, and I realize that I will burn in hell for it, but it sure was cool at the time!
Yeah... Wow! You'll have company.
In my college fraternity house, we had a telephone booth... Our crime was a little different. It involved using pennies. You held a penny in the silver $.25 coin slot with your thumb. With the other hand, holding a kitchen knife, you could "snap" the penny down into the place where the quarter would go between the trip wires... making the quarter "Gong"... I think there were enough honest brothers who actually paid, so we never had an investigation, and the the telephone company left the booth. I was a'courtin' my now DW at the time. It was most important to stay in contact. Who knows? ... but for this crime I might have been single today.
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