Through the Years

Every now and then I’m struck by how much things have changed during my lifetime.  Today, I’m going to take you on the journey with me . . .


According to my mom, my grandmother (Mom’s Mom) built the first TV in their house.  She got the parts in the mail and the instructions, and put them all together herself.  There was no box around all the wiring and tubes, but nonetheless, it was a TV.  I never got to see that television, but I have seen everything from the old 12″ black and white TVs to the big, honkin’ console televisions that required three or four people to move.  And now, we have these huge, flat screens that come in sizes so large, you can even buy them by the foot and have them mounted on your wall to create your own in-home theater.  And speaking of theaters, now you can even watch movies in 3-D on your TV at home!

The only odd thing about all this is that I remember hating the tiny 12″ screens, and being told constantly not to sit too close to the television because it could ruin my eyes, and now people can watch shows on their mobile phones.  Seems to me we went back to where we started from, just on cooler screens.

Anyway . . .  The next item is cars.

The progression of automobiles has been an interesting one.  Back when I was little, it was considered prestigious to own a huge boat of a car – namely a Cadillac or Pontiac – but now those have gone to the wayside in favor of being better to our environment.  Over the years there have been cars that run on leaded gas, unleaded gas, diesel, ethanol, and now we’ve got cars that can run on simple electricity, and are smaller and more streamlined to aid in better mileage.  Yes, there are still huge cars out there – Hummers, anyone? – but with the gas prices rising, you see less and less of them on the road.  At least, you do out here in California.

Books is another obvious one, but the progression of those has really only happened in the last few years.  Up until then, everything was in print, though with the invention of the internet, you were able to purchase books online.  But now, people are able to own hundreds of books without having to dust them.  And they can read them all from one device that can be held in their hands.

Movies at home has gone the same way.  I remember the first movie video we owned was E.T.  I also remember that it originally cost $80 when it first came out!  We didn’t pay that much for our copy, but I believe we did pay about $30 for it, because we knew someone who was able to get us a discount.  There were VHS tapes, Beta (which didn’t stand much of a chance), and Laser Discs (ditto), and then came DVDs.  And when you rented them, you had to go to your local Blockbuster or other Mom and Pop video rental store.  But now, you can not only rent movies through the internet and ship them back whenever you want, but you can even “stream” them to your TV, laptop, or even mobile phone.

And last, but certainly not least, there’s music.  My mom had an 8-track player in her little Ford Fairmont when I was growing up, and we had a little carrying case that stored a bunch of our 8-tracks so we could listen to them.  From Elvis Presley to the Bee Gees, we played those more often than we listened to local radio stations.  We also had a record player that played 33s, and 45s (with the little plastic adapter, of course), and though it didn’t play 78s, I had friends whose stereo did, so I got to experience those as well and see how much thicker they were.

After the 8-tracks, there came cassette tapes, then eventually CDs, and now mp3s.  You can now own thousands of “albums” on your computer or personal mp3 player, and at a fraction of the cost.  What’s even better is that you can purchase just the songs you want, rather than buy an entire album when you only like one or two tracks.

And obviously that’s not the end of the advancements we’ve seen over the last four decades.  From air travel to medicines to knowledge about health benefits and pitfalls from certain foods, there have been so many changes for the betterment of society.  I, for one, am very intrigued to see what the next forty years will bring.


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