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First TV, AC, etc
Old 12-04-2014, 02:31 PM   #1
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First TV, AC, etc

For those that have been around a while , do you remember when your family got their first TV and/or their first air conditioner? Any other "memorable "first" (e.g. electricity, indoor plumbing, radio, telephone, refrigerator, clothes washer or dryer, car, etc) I'm sure some of the younger folks will want to talk about their first cell phones or computers as "memorable" but was I thinking about "things" maybe a bit further back, for the most part.

For me, as long as I can remember (back to the mid/late 50's) we had a Black and White TV. I think we got our first color TV in about 1965. We got our first air conditioner (a window unit) in about 1958. I seem to remember always having a telephone but we were on a party line until the early 60's.
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Old 12-04-2014, 02:43 PM   #2
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Our family was the first on the block to get a TV. Huge cabinet containing a 5 inch B&W screen. This was in the early 50s, and it was routine for the neighbors to come over to watch something. As I recall (vaguely), there wasn't much in the beginning besides the Ed Sullivan show and lots of wrestling.

I remember spending lots of time making trips up to the drugstore where they had a tube tester. You pulled a tube or three out of the TV cabinet and brought them up to the store, where you hunted for the right socket to plug it in. The machine gave you a simple Good/Bad indication. If it was bad, they sold the common tubes there in the store. Tubes didn't seem to last very long, but after a while you got to learn which were the most likely to be the culprit.
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Old 12-04-2014, 02:54 PM   #3
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Yes, I remember the drugstore tube tester. Later Dad built one from a Lafayette Electronics kit, if anyone remembers them.

We also got our first color TV ~1966 or thereabouts and I remember watching "The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!" a comedy about a Russian submarine running aground in New England and their interactions with the small town population and trying to get out without attracting military attention.

The first A/C arrived about 1964-65, a huge window unit that Dad installed in the attic right over the staircase so the cold air would "fall" downstairs. Since the house had plenty of shade in the summer that actually worked pretty well with a box fan at the bottom of the stairs to blow the cold air around.

Another big deal was a clothes dryer, also around 1964. Mom was overjoyed at that, especially not having to hang clothes in the winter.
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Old 12-04-2014, 03:04 PM   #4
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My parents married in 1951 and always owned a car (the first family car I remember traveling in was a Ford Prefect). They bought their first home with cash a couple of years later. I arrived in 1957 and they bought their second home, also paying in cash, in 1962. They kept the first home for about a decade as a rental. We got a telephone in 1964 (there was a long waiting list so it was a big deal) and long distance phone calls were quite expensive and were reserved for births, deaths and marriages. The combined washer and drier arrived about 1967 and was still working well when my Mom passed away in 2005, but they did go through two refrigerators. Our home was built in 1901 and was chosen for its location. It had only an outdoor toilet when we moved in, but we added a bathroom and modern kitchen soon after. There were six fireplaces in the home. My parents installed gas fired central heating in the 1980s after I had left home, having shivered through my studying years. We never had air conditioning because there was no need for it in that climate. TV broadcasting was launched in Ireland in 1961 but my parents resisted consumer pressure until I forced their hand in 1969 and they finally rented a black and white TV. They did not get a colour TV till 1981 when my (ER) father received one as a retirement gift.

However, we ate and dressed very well, and we were regular attendees at concerts, theatre and movies (films), as well as favourite sporting events such as the Galway Races and the Dublin Horse Show (not cheap). We had a summer holiday every year, usually a road trip, which was often punctuated by drenching rain, but there were wonderful beach days every weekend all summer. I went to private school, my extracurricular activities included piano, singing, dance and drama, and I had free rein to buy as many books as I wanted. Sports were encouraged but I was a klutz. Parents paid my university tuition and my graduation present was a trip to the USA. We were all debt free until I borrowed part of the cost of my first car from the bank of Mum and Dad after graduating and starting work. I paid them back in 6 months.

While I didn't grow up with a lot of gadgets, I think I had a rich childhood.
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Old 12-04-2014, 03:06 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by braumeister View Post

I remember spending lots of time making trips up to the drugstore where they had a tube tester. You pulled a tube or three out of the TV cabinet and brought them up to the store, where you hunted for the right socket to plug it in. The machine gave you a simple Good/Bad indication. If it was bad, they sold the common tubes there in the store. Tubes didn't seem to last very long, but after a while you got to learn which were the most likely to be the culprit.
Now that brings back memories. My dad thought he was so smart, he "numbered" all the tubes and the corresponding tube sockets so he would be sure to put the right tubes back in the right sockets... Sounded like a good idea... Unfortunately, he used a wax pencil and the wax all melted as soon as the tubes heated up.
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Old 12-04-2014, 03:09 PM   #6
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Apparently my parents were frugal as well - at least when it came to TV and AC. Big old B&W TV in the living room was all we had growing up in the 60s. Mom and Dad finally got a color TV in '72-73 - around the same time they got their first window AC. And all this was in a good sized suburban split level in humid New Jersey.

Apparently it rubbed off. Didn't have an AC in my house in very warm Southern California for the first 10 years after I bought it. Finally got central AC a couple of years after my wife moved in. Best decision I.. er... she... um... WE ever made.

PS. We still have TVs that have actual CRTs in them. Some folks never learn.
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Old 12-04-2014, 03:36 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Car-Guy View Post
For me, as long as I can remember (back to the mid/late 50's) we had a Black and White TV. I think we got our first color TV in about 1965.
First B&W TV: 1951
First color TV: 1964

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Originally Posted by Car-Guy View Post
We got our first air conditioner (a window unit) in about 1958.
Same here, 1958, a window unit in my parents' bedroom, although we kids weren't allowed in there even during the daytime. Kids in those days were supposed to play outside despite the summer heat and humidity, and stay active and run around all day long. No sitting on the porch playing jacks (I'm probably the only human in history who ever got in trouble for playing jacks).

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I seem to remember always having a telephone but we were on a party line until the early 60's.
We always had a phone too, and not a party line, although many did have them. The phones back then were those ugly old black things. I remember when my best friend's family got a pink Princess phone to replace the ugly old black one, and I thought that was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

First icemaker, 1966.

First homogenized milk, early 1960's.

First locking gas cap (aftermarket!) during a gas crisis, I think in the 1980's?

First portable radio, 1956, from Japan of course.

First hula hoop 1958, cost $5 ( = 20 weeks' allowance), but a year later you could get them for a buck. This was my first life lesson about fads and what they are and why to avoid buying into a fad.
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Old 12-04-2014, 03:44 PM   #8
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1947 - electricity (don't remember since I was waiting to be born)
1957 - indoor plumbing
1959 - BW TV
1974 - C TV (parent only, I was long gone)

1983 - C TV (me)
1998 - AC
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Old 12-04-2014, 04:25 PM   #9
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I can only remember back to about 1954 when I was 5 yo, and we had a B&W TV at that time, but not sure when my parents actually got their first TV. I believe the first color set was in 1966. I do remember that we tried putting a plastic film over the B&W TV that was supposed to mimic color, but that experiment didn't last long. Also remember the tube tester, I think it was an RCA, in the stores for replacing tubes. We used to listen to a lot of radio back in the 50s, especially the baseball games. And oh those miniature transistor radios. Someone mentioned Lafayette Electronics. I used to love going to that place and looking at the SW receivers and ham radio gear. I eventually got a Cobra CB radio around 1961 and a Magnum antenna.

As to AC, we initially had a water cooled unit, that was placed on a table in front on an open window, and I believe it was replaced by an AC window unit in about 1961.
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Old 12-04-2014, 04:43 PM   #10
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I'm told my parents got a BW tv around 1960 - a year before I was born. That's about when it shows up in photos from the day. We got a color tv around 1969.

I remember the tube testers at the drug store. I also remember the glow and heat coming off the back of the tv.

My parents got an roof ariel for the tv (motorized so it could be aimed for local channels, LA channels, or channels broadcasting from Tijuana, MX. That was about 1970.

Microwave around 1975.

Dad was an early adopter on calculators and PCs. Got an HP30 programmable calculator when they first came out. It cost $450... I remember my mom/dad discussing if it was worth it. (He was an engineer so he really wanted it to replace his slide-rule). He bought the original IBM PC that booted from big 5 1/4" floppies. I loved that I could do college homework on that, vs having to wait for use of one in the computer lab.

My house still doesn't have AC. It wasn't an issue growing up - but with warmer summers now - we're looking at a split unit next year.
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Old 12-04-2014, 04:49 PM   #11
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My folks bought their first TV in 1959 when I was 12. I bought them their first color TV in 1970. Their first automatic (non wringer) washing machine was in 1960 the first dryer was 1967.
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Old 12-04-2014, 05:17 PM   #12
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I was born in 1954. I always remember having a TV (black and white), and I do remember getting the color TV but I don't remember what year it was. I was going to say 1960, but I don't know that they had them that early. I might be confusing it with the 1960 van that we got (must have been one of the first). It had 3 bench seats and the two back seats could face each other with a collapsible table in the middle. We called it "the bus".

We only ever had one black utilitarian telephone in the house and for many years it was a party line. One window air conditioner unit upstairs in my older sister's bedroom as it got so hot up there in the little story-and-a-half bungalow. One bathroom, no shower just a tub. My Dad did put a toilet in the basement but he was the only one that ever used it as it had no enclosure. I always remember having a washer and dryer in the basement, and my Mom also had a wringer washer which she seemed to prefer to the automatic washer. We hung clothes outside in summer and on lines in the basement in winter conserving the dryer for whatever reason (electric costs?). We never had a dishwasher. My parents really did live way, WAY below their means as I discovered much later when it was time for college that they were quite well off and I was encouraged to apply anywhere I wanted to go, and they would pay the tuition in full. We also had a summer home in Erie, PA and we always took summer vacations (mostly car trips to Canada, New England, the Jersey Shore, Florida). We had a motor boat that Dad kept at a marina and we took rides up and down the Ohio on summer evenings.
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Old 12-04-2014, 05:27 PM   #13
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Dad was a tinkerer. All I remember is at one point, likely about 1962, having TWO TV's in the family room. Impressive, huh? Yeah, except they sat next to each other. On one only the sound worked, on the other only the picture worked. And you think not having a remote for a TV was a problem with one TV?
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Old 12-04-2014, 11:48 PM   #14
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My family got their first TV several years before I arrived in '57 to watch it. The first color TV was around 1971-72. Our first window A/C units came in about 1974-75 with one in my folks bedroom, one in the living room, and one in the kitchen that only ran at supper time. The first window A/C for my bedroom didn't arrive until about 1993.
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Old 12-05-2014, 03:55 AM   #15
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My parents had a TV when I was born, so before 1954. However, my Dad thought color TV was frivolous, so we were the last house in our neighborhood to get a TV (no idea what year). My Dad did have a remote control long before anyone else though - ME, "go change the channel..."

W2R mentioned jacks, brought back memories, I remember girls playing jacks. Boys where I was all played marbles, every day. We also had Duncan tops. We read MAD magazine. We built plastic models, cars, planes, etc. We raced slot cars. In the Fall we played touch football games, first team to 100 points on Sunday's. Do kids play with jacks, marbles, tops or the rest these days?

My first new car, a 1981 Honda Civic didn't have AC. We lived in OH at the time so it really wasn't an issue, and the car cost me about $5,500, that seemed like a ton of money then.

We didn't buy our first flat panel TV until 2009 when our 27" Sony CRT finally quit working. We still have and use almost daily a 19" Sony CRT TV setup in the basement exercise area - it'll be replaced next week.

We bought our first washer & dryer in 1980. I distinctly remember feeling like we'd really arrived when we had our own, after using community coin or apartment units from 1972 until 1980. For a guy who grew up dreaming about buying sports cars and the like, I was surprised to find how happy our own washer & dryer made me.
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Old 12-05-2014, 06:45 PM   #16
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All I remember is at one point, likely about 1962, having TWO TV's in the family room. Impressive, huh? Yeah, except they sat next to each other. On one only the sound worked, on the other only the picture worked.
That is definitely something my father would have done!
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Old 12-05-2014, 07:09 PM   #17
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... I seem to remember always having a telephone but we were on a party line until the early 60's.
I was on a party line in 1974 - 1976!
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Old 12-05-2014, 07:13 PM   #18
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I was on a party line in 1974 - 1976!
Wow, I didn't know they still had those then!

I was born in 1950 and do not remember not having a private line telephone and at least a B&W TV. I think we got the TV when I was 4 but I don't remember it coming into the house.
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Old 12-05-2014, 08:06 PM   #19
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We got our first TV when I was about six (1953). It was a combo unit with a phonograph and a radio. I'm sure my dad was more interested in listening to records than watching TV.

They finally replaced that 11" B&W TV with color the year after I left for college.

The next year my folks replaced the coal furnace with natural gas. That was a big deal. Our house had hot and cold plumbing, but we usually didn't have hot water. The gas hw heater meant that my dad could install a shower head and take a hot shower. I still think of hot showers as a luxury of modern living, and enjoy them more because of it. My mom liked hot water for washing, my dad was happy to be done with the coal furnace chores, I was happy to have heat on a cold winter morning.
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Old 12-05-2014, 08:13 PM   #20
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Will start with the TV... Uncle Otto lived Berkley RI in a third floor tenement. He was a radio enthusiast and in 1946, built his first five inch TV similar to the one shown below. It was before any regularly scheduled TV shows. On Sundays we'd visit him and all crowd around the door to his man-cave, to see the snowy test pattern from WBZ-TV in Boston. Could barely see the picture. A little while later, in 1947, we would visit in the afternoon on Sunday, and "watch" the only live scheduled show... from 3PM to 4PM... "Community Auditions". Very exciting.

To improve the viewing for the family, a 12 inch magnifying glass, on a stand in front of the TV tube (that was twice as long as it was wide)... And then...The ultimate... color TV... a transparent colored film that stuck to the magnifying glass. Blue sky... yellow middle, and green at the bottom. As a teenager, I would brag that my uncle had a color TV.

Otto was German, and had a short wave radio, back during the war. The neighbors always wondered if he might be a German spy. He wasn't.

In 1948, on the way home from Boy Scouts, at 8:30... we'd pass Riley's Radio Shop where they had a TV in the front window... We would crowd around to watch Uncle Miltie, on the Texaco Star Theater... No TV for us 'til 1953... 12 inch Philco.

Earlier... in 1940... grandma Miller had a cat's whisker crystal radio that my cousins and I would play with... Regular radios were normal then, but for us, a chance to play with history. That and the wind up mechanical Victrola, with the big wooden horn. It was out on the front porch that was not heated in winter. We were shooed out there when it got crowded inside the house. It was our playground. I remember putting toys on the 78 rpm turntable and betting on which ones would spin off first. For Christmas in 1942, I got a three record precursor of books-on-tape... the adventures of Tarzan. The records were played 'til the needle wore through. Maybe 'cuz we'd use common pins to replace the store bought needles.

So much for the early electronic history...
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