Thursday, April 23, 2015

Thursday Thirteen

Today I thought I'd make a list of 13 things that I'll probably never see again in my lifetime. Most of them have become archaic, relics of a time that technology has voided.

1. An 8-track tape (and player). These were the big boys of music back in the day. A fellow with an 8-track tape player and big ol' speakers in his car was the bomb.

2. Cassettes and cassette players. I used to sit around with my cassette player and a radio and record Kasey Kasem's American Top 40 once a month or so.

3. Dictaphones. I worked as a legal secretary for about 12 years, and used these all the time. The boss would talk into a recorder and the secretary would take the tape and transcribe it. Secretaries are also something you don't see much of any more, either. I have been out of the field for over 20 years; I'm not sure how they do things now.

4. A print encyclopedia. My grandparents bought a set of World Book Encyclopedias when I was very small, but I remember the absolute thrill my grandmother had because she owned an entire set of these books of knowledge. When I visited her, I would sit and read through the books.

5. A man on the moon. Unless a corporation pays for a visit to the moon, I doubt I see another "one step for man." And to be honest, I don't want corporations going to the moon, because if they are there, it is to exploit the moon's resources, whatever they may be. Who knows what kind of havoc that could eventually cause on poor ol' Mother Earth.

6. Pay phones and phone booths. There used to be a phone at every convenience store, inside the high school, and outside most stores. Those are gone. I wonder where Superman changes into his cute little tights these days?

7. Party lines. When I was young, we had what was known as a "party line." This meant that if you picked the phone up you could hear other people talking and carrying on conversations. You couldn't make a call until they were finished. It was not polite to listen in, and the only time you were to interrupt was in an emergency. I confess that we had two women, whose names I do not now recall, who talked on the phone a lot. And I did listen in. I was seven. Sometimes they'd realize I was there, most times not. Sometimes they'd even talk to me, too, but I had to be careful that my mother did not find out.

8. Rotary phones. Our phones used to be rotary phones, which means they had a dial that you'd turn and then it would make this satisfying clicking sound as it rounded back to its beginning. We had a rotary phone here in my own home until about 10 years ago, when the thing finally gave up the ghost. It would work when the power was out while the cordless do not. So we always keep some kind of analog phone hooked up, though they have become difficult to find. Hopefully the two we have now will last us.

9. Film cameras. I started out with a film camera, one my parents gave me when I was about 10. When I began writing for the newspaper, I bought a Nikon FG-20 film camera. It took great pictures regardless of light and loved it. Then everything switched to digital, and that was the end of that.

10. Directory assistance. I don't even know what would happen if I dialed "0" on my phone today. Is there still an operator on the other end? Anybody know?

11. VHS recorders. At one time I had a pile of VHS tapes. I taped my favorite shows from the TV, usually forgetting to mark them. Now we use DVDs, which will soon be outdated and useless, I suppose.

12. Records and record players. I used to buy LPs and 45s, and still have most of my LPs here in a box. I still prefer an LP to CD. As a musician, when I tried to learn a song, it was great to be able to pick up the needle and drop it back onto the LP exactly where I wanted it. It's difficult to do that with a CD - it takes a lot more time and effort to find that exact spot where the song changes key.

13. Big fat computer monitors. Most of those things are gone and will never be back. I imagine folks still use them somewhere, but most people use a flat screen these days, if they're using a screen at all. I think at some point even a desktop computer will be one of those things we look back on as a dinosaur.

Thursday Thirteen is played by lots of people; there is a list here if you want to read other Thursday Thirteens and/or play along. I've been playing for a while and this is my 392nd time to do a list of 13 on a Thursday.


  1. I love your list and I think you're right. Now you have me thinking of things that are disappearing--the heavy clunker TVs,and paper phone books.

  2. Enjoyed your list. So many clunker items on there, lol.... We have come a long way baby... I used one of those Dictaphones also and something you don't have on your list, A Microfiche.

  3. Funnier how cell phones were getting smaller and now they are getting bigger like mini iPads. What a horror to think of privatizing space travel. Just watched the PBS special on the Hubble Telescope and it was fascinating and breathtaking but not long for this world. I think you can still dial (Can we still say dial like we say album for CD?) 411 for operator assistance.

  4. Good lord...a lot of those things I still HAVE!!!

  5. I still have a VHS recorder (not to mention a ton of movies) and a stereo with cassette player (for the cassettes I've never replaced with CD), and also have my mom's old turntable and a ton of records from both sides of the family, some dating back to the 1930's. My T13: Little Free Libraries

  6. I did a similar T13 some time ago, with many of the same items. check it out here:

  7. Seems like I mostly see personal assistant for people who need someone to shepherd them from meeting to meeting and keep people from just walking into the office, and secretarial pools that might work for several departments and do things like proof reading and research. If I could, I'd hire a secretary to help me get my books on the market. Instead, I'll probably end up hiring a series of editors and marketing companies.


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