The other day I listened to a great story on public radio about the various sounds that some of us still recognize but will soon be alien to the ears of all but the more “aged advanced,” read “old,” among us.
Some of the sounds featured on the broadcast included the sound of a needle being placed on a vinyl record and the various different chime sounds made by a pay telephone signaling denomination of coin deposited.
As I listened to the program I began to think of other devices, services and technologies that have faded or soon will fade from use as a result of the digital revolution.
Remember sending the kids to the mall with a pocket full of quarters so they could spend a Saturday afternoon playing video games? Those games today seem like little more than glorified pinball machines. The PS2 and Wii have brought into the family room virtual reality experiences once only available to the military or NASA.
The phones we use and telephone service providers have been totally changed. When is the last time you got a busy signal? Even the dial tone is disappearing as more and more of us cut the cord and move exclusively to mobile phones. Paying for long distance seems akin to being charged for the air we breathe, although we are now charged for the air that goes in our automobile tires.
Speaking of cars and driving... You no longer have to remember how to re-fold those road maps once provided free by the likes of Gulf, Sinclair, Sohio, or Esso. Our good friends at Garmin make the trip to grandma’s house paperless but not free.
While you’re out driving you don’t have to remember to go to the drug store or parking lot kiosk to retrieve your pictures. In fact, even the sale of small digital cameras has decreased markedly. Most mobile phones now have very good cameras built in. For other than professional quality photography, these simple-to-use cameras perform extremely well. And once the photo is in the phone, it can instantly be shared with friends and family across the street or across the ocean.
While you wouldn’t know it from the piles of new phone directories delivered to our homes and businesses, these white, yellow and pink pages are seldom used by most of us to find a telephone number, address or local merchant. Our phones store the numbers of friends and family, and the internet and Google can point us to a local company or store. One of the casualties of this revolution is that without our phone many of us can’t remember the phone numbers except, of course, the telephone number of the place in which we grew up. Bet you can remember that one. Mine was KE4-2243.