Shannon Stacey

Technologically nostalgic

The other night I had one of those moments when I stop and think, “Holy crap, technology is freakin’ amazing!”.

I’d been curled up on the couch waiting an episode of Grey’s Anatomy on my iPad because SK was watching something on the TV. Then it was time to take the dog out so she could spend a half-hour sniffing every single square centimeter of mushy, freshly snow-free yard before doing her business, so I pulled up the Netflix app on my iPod Touch and continued watching it while she sniffed. Then the Short Kid went to bed, so I fired up Netflix on the PS3 and finished the episode on the big TV.

Every once in a while my mind is just blown by the amazing things our gadgets can do nowadays. I remember my family’s first color television. (How old am I again?) I remember when we got a Betamax VCR. (Yup, we had one of those.) I remember the VHS VCR we got because the Betamax was obsolete after like thirty-six hours. The Atari. The Commodore VIC-20. The wonders of the Sony Walkman (with real cassette tapes you’d have to occasionally wind back in with a pencil).

When my husband and I first got married, he had a pager. If I needed to talk to him, I had to call it and then wait until he could find a phone and call me back. Now, besides these newfangled cellphones, when he goes snowmobiling, he has this little gadget that, when he pushes a button, sends a text message to my phone saying “Okay” along with his latitude and longitude, as well as sending me an email with a link to his location on Google maps. (The same device, with a different button, will also send a 9-1-1 alert to a monitoring company who will give his coordinates to local search and rescue and call me. He sleds in the northern part of the state, much of which doesn’t have cell coverage. At $99 per year, it’s a lot cheaper than a satellite phone.)

It all reminds me of a trip the kids and I took to Staples last year. While I was looking at pens because I always do, the Short Kid started investigating the display and asked what correction tape was for. When I told him it was for typewriters, he gave me a say what look. While I was explaining to him what typewriters were, I was internally freaking out that my son didn’t know what a typewriter was. It broke my heart a little, to be honest.

An older woman who’d also been looking at pens joined the conversation and told my sons that when she was a teenager, she’d volunteered to babysit her neighbor’s children because they had a radio and she could listen to the stories. Needless to say, my children (who think being tethered by USB cord to a charger is torture) could barely wrap their minds around such a thing. They’re barely out of bed before they’ve got their iPod apps up and running, SK checking his weather app and TK scanning the CNN app.

I can’t even imagine what amazing gadgets my grandchildren will have. But I’m still holding out for Rosie the Robot, to be honest.

6 comments to “Technologically nostalgic”

  1. Lorelie Brown
      · March 30th, 2011 at 10:30 am · Link

    Can I have the name of that latitude & longitude gadget? My husband doesn’t often have cell phone coverage when he hunts and combining guns with that makes me nervous.

    Heh. The funny part: he hunts in the very Southern part of the state. Near the Mexican border. You and I are at opposite ends!

  2. Lesli Richardson
      · March 30th, 2011 at 10:32 am · Link

    I remember when… chicken McNuggets and Happy Meals first came out…gas cost around $.50…my grandparents not only had a rotary dial phone, but a party line…cars that didn’t come standard with seat belts (or had the non-auto-adjusting kind if they did)…pre-VCRs and pre-Walkmans…disc cameras (remember those?)…pre-CDs (of course)…cars could come with 8-track tape decks…records were still sold in record stores…typewriters (I had several, manual and electric)…I had a Commodore-64. I learned computers on a TRS-80 in high school. I remember when Tampa only had four local TV stations (one of them PBS) and all on channels 2-13.


    Can I go have a drink now? I feel really, really old. LOL

  3. Shannon
      · March 30th, 2011 at 10:51 am · Link

    Sure. It’s a SPOT satellite messenger thingy, and you can check them out at

    There are at least a couple of different devices and several different packages you can get. (I found the more expensive device is available at some sporting goods stores, but we bought the cheapest one direct from the site.) You can even have a “site” where people can follow your treks and voyages. Since my husband is neither tech-friendly nor very interesting, we went with the basics.

    A lot of people mount them to their ATVs or sleds or whatever, but if he wipes out and gets thrown from his sled, he might not be able to get back to it (shudder), so he keeps his in his pocket, even though it doesn’t have direct line to the sky. When he stops to take a break he sets it on his seat, hits the button and lets it do its thing while he has a cigar or chats with his buddies or whatever, then puts it back in his pocket.

    Ours has three messages.

    Checking in: Okay – This sends the OK message to my phone along with the link to his Google Map location. He sends one every couple of hours. I save the emails until he’s home because if he stopped sending signals and I had to call out the dogs, somebody familiar with where he is could look at them and perhaps figure out his likely path and narrow the search area. My favorite thing about this is when he’s gone for the weekend to our camper (no cell) he hits it when he pulls in and, when I see the camper’s coordinates come up, I know he’s tucked in for the night and I can stop worrying.

    Send help – This alert comes to me and means it’s not an emergency, but he needs help. For instance, if his sled died in a place too remote to walk out, I’d have call some friends up north and give them his location and tell them he needs a truck.

    9-1-1 – Hoping to never need this one. If he hits this, it sends an alert to the monitoring company. They give his location to the local authorities and also call me. (And I have it set up so they call my stepmom, too.)

    If they ever call, the hard part will be waiting. I won’t know how bad it is, or even if it’s him. It could be a guy he’s riding with. Or he could come upon an accident and call for them. But the important thing is that they’ll send help.

    We read a lot about satellite phones. And we read about how the satellites are degrading and the signal sucks and blah blah blah. I’ve gotten every signal he’s sent. (*knocks wood*) And satellite phones are expensive (too expensive to use in place of cellphone, so we’d have two plans). We don’t need to sit and chat. I just want him to get help if he needs it.

    We paid $100 for the SPOT and we pay $100 per year for the service (plus we chose the optional insurance) and we don’t regret a penny of it. So far it’s only piece of mind (and we hope that’s all it ever is), but it’s worth it.

  4. Shannon
      · March 30th, 2011 at 10:54 am · Link

    The TRS-80!!! I’d forgotten about those!

    I remember writing stuff in computer class (though I think we had the Apple IIe by then). If line 8=no, go to line 10. Stuff like that. And the very first, original Oregon Trail!

    My husband had a party line as a little kid. He tells our boys about it sometimes and they look at him like he’s crazy. :)

  5. library addict
      · March 30th, 2011 at 2:05 pm · Link

    I remember when microwaves first came out. Also Beta/VHS, cordless phones, brick cell phones, cd players, etc. And my mom had a disc camera. When I graduated high school my parents bought me a Brother WP/typewriter that took floppy disks. Say what you want about old technology, but that sucker still works 20+ years later. I still use it to type labels.

    My nephew will be 18 tomorrow. When I tell him how we used to have to watch an episode of TV live if we wanted to see it and actually get up to change the channel, he looks at me like I’m crazy, too.

    Brad Paisley (who is younger than me :P ) wrote a nice song about the subject, Welcome to the Future.

  6. Jewell
      · March 31st, 2011 at 4:43 pm · Link

    I remember being around six-years-old and “helping” dig a home septic system for my grandma’s house in WVA. At that point in time she had a top of the line, dual seater…outhouse.

    Imagine trying to potty train a child with one of those things!

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