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Eighties Child Technology – Am I old at 30…..

Eighties Child Technology – Am I old at 30…..

When I was younger, I remember hearing tales from my mum and dad about listening to the wireless on an evening, and how amazing it was when they got their first colour television. Hearing these tales I took what was innovative and breaking technology of it’s time for granted. Life without a colour television wasn’t something I could relate to, as my youth was surrounded by technology and new developments.

Recently though I have begun to wonder, if now I have hit 30, I have reached a certain age where the youth of today would have the same view on the technology of my childhood. And it made me realise that when looking back, I have lived through a vast number of technological advancements that affect the average person’s life. Is the technology of my youth as as strange to today’s kids, as the wireless and gramophone are to me?

Not too long ago a friend of mine had to explain what a hi-fi was to a 17 year old by likening it to ‘an ipod docking station of olden days’, and I was told by a University Lecturer that his students didn’t know what the save icon represented. It’s little things like this that make me realise how much things have changed.

When I was a child I listened to records, then tapes, which became cd’s, I remember when mini discs made an appearance but now I listen to mp3s. But the ipod has been around for almost half my lifetime, and with cd sales on the decline, it won’t be long before kids know only the mp3 as a source for music, and even the cd will seem like a distant memory. I remember listening to my Care Bears record, and spending hours recording songs from the radio on to tape trying not to get any of the talking before and after. I remember walking to school with a personal cd player wedged in my coat pocket, and I remember when headphones became uncool as earphones were the new thing.

Disney films of my childhood were played on VHS, and I think the earliest recorder I remember had the remote on a wire, and although the developments for film have mainly been a move to dvd, I doubt many people under the age of 15 would know what a video tape was. I remember the floor shaking when I went to rewind a tape, and having to pull the tab off my recording of Willow to make sure my dad didn’t tape over it with Baywatch.

My favourite game at Primary School was a text based game for the BBC Electron called ‘The Lost Frog’, and at home my first computer was an Acorn Archimedes where I played Lemmings, Mad Professor Mariarti and Chuck Rock. In fact I remember playing The Lost Frog and Mad Professor for hours before completing either, one because i couldn’t work out what the point was, and one because it was the first game where I had to really learn how to interact with my environment. And this was before the days where you could ask on a forum or Google a walkthrough, it was just the way we did stuff. I remember the little Lemming that stood with arms outstretched counting down from 5 before letting out a final ‘Oh No!’ before he blew to smithereens. I also remember when exiting the game the screen went black with the words at the top ‘Oh no, I thought you loved us?’ and finding my mum crying because she didn’t want to exit the game and have the Lemmings think she doesn’t care.

I remember the dial up tone for connecting to the internet, and downloading parody songs from Napster when it was free. I remember waiting 2 hours for the smallest song, only to have your mum pick up the phone to call her sister and lose your connection. I remember spending hours in MSN chat rooms, never once considering that the 12 year old girl I’m taking to could have been a 45 year old man. I remember learning how to download real music and tv shows, and how to install codecs before all of my friends had a clue. I remember my first hotmail email address, and how stupid my username was…..

Floppy_disk_2009_G1 eighties child technologyI remember saving my uni coursework on a floppy disc, yet now I can’t remember the last time I owned a computer with a floppy disc drive. At work I have a batch of floppy discs in the safe, with what I believe is old accounts information we have to keep for audit purposes, but if the auditors ever needed access to this information, we wouldn’t have a disc drive able to access it. I remember moving from downloading via Kazaa to torrents when I was at uni, and I remember the first time I got broadband and I downloaded one song in under 5 minutes. Now I can do it in about 20 seconds. I also remember the paperclip who knew when I was writing a letter.Figure11.bmpeighties child technologyI remember when mobile phones were for business men, and the pay as you go appeared. My first mobile phone when I was 15 was a Nokia 5110, and I bet if I could find it, it would still have one bar of battery left. I remember when snake was the only game you could play, and data was transferred via infrared, and a  £10 top up would last almost a month. I remember charging my phone once a week, and when you had to key in each letter separately to write a text. I also saw that someone had recently overheard a conversation between teenagers, where one had found a parents old mobile from the 90’s, and couldn’t understand why it had a hashtag key, when twitter had not yet been invented…..


I remember having a PC card fitted to my acorn with the Windows 3.0 operating system and being able to play Solitaire for the first time. I remember the first Playstation when Lara’s boobs were pointy, and a game cost £20 a time.

Are these MY stories of olden days? Where kids don’t know how good they have it with fibre broadband and contract iphones from the age of 7.

Have I finally hit the age where technology is overtaking me? I don’t like new games, they’re too complicated for me to enjoy. Gone are the days when I can run from left to right collecting coins or build a Theme Park without having someone come along and attack me or have to join a Guild to access better content. If I could find a way to emulate Mad Professor on my laptop, I would be in heaven.

Maybe it’s time to add my technological childhood to the museum, and accept that I’m finally getting old.

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