There have been so many changes in the devices we use on a regular basis during my lifetime that it is amusing sometimes to recall the way things were with those instruments that we use daily. Everything is lighterand faster now and the competition is intense and the innovations come quicker.
The phone is certainly the most noticeable instrument that has changed dramatically over the last 50 years. When I was a child I even used one of those old stand up models like you still see in the old black and white movies from the ’30’s and ’40’s. They had the base with the dial wheel and that stem that stuck straight up and the hook hanging off of it for the receiver/listening portion. We never had one that I recall but some friends and relatives still did into the early ’50’s. They saw no need to upgrade to a newer phone if the old one worked alright. They did work all right and it was a real two handed job to talk on one of them. We always had a the traditional black set with the cradle for the receiver right on top of the base. AT & T had a monopoly then. It was with government support–all those union jobs you know. The government set the prices for everything through the tariffs. It made the phones a little cheaper but the service was awful. It took weeks sometimes to get a phone line installed. When you did get one it was most likely on a party line with two or even three other people on there with you. If you wanted to make a call but the line was already in use with one of the other parties you had to wait until they were done. Lots of arguments between the parties on the line in those days about the phone use especially if one household had teenagers. That situation didn’t really change until into the early ’60’s. The phones were all hardwired right into the wall. There were no phone jacks like today were you can move the phone from one location to another. If fact it was against the law to move a phone. You had to call and get a technician to come out and move it and put in a new hard wire connection. That is why it was so important to pick the right location for the phone. Tampering with a phone line was federal offense just like interferring with the mail. It was the best and worst of worlds in communication. We had more phones and phone use than anyplace on earth but the service was dreadful. They were in effect government employees in reality if not in fact. That didn’t really change until the Courts allowed the use of the first mobile phones in the late ’70’s. That opened the flood gates and then the Court busted up AT & T saying it was a monopoly! Blow me over with a feather. Yeah, it was with the advice and consent of Congress. Now there are phones galore and phone companies all competiting for your business. Back then there was no foreign competition allowed. Nokia couldn’t sell a single phone in the US nor could Nortel have offered any services. The Reagan revolution of competition and deregulation brought on new horizons. All those liberal wonks using their Blackberries owe a debt of thanks to Reagan.
Today everyone communicates with email or twitter I guess whatever the heck that is exactly. It seems like only another version of email to me. There aren’t even that many faxes sent anymore. There was a time not really that long ago that faxes were the dominant method of communicating in the business world. With proposals and contracts and reports, etc. flying over the wires to be printed. Now people just send an email and print it out if they want. The earliest form of “fax” was the Telex machine. They were about the size of your washing machine at home. They printed out on long rolls of paper and took forever. The printing method was strictly mechanical. They were not ink jet or scanning digitally. My dad had one in his business. It was considered quite the innovation. They were an update to the old ticker tape machines that printed out the news from Wall Street and the stock price quotes. They were terribly expensive. Heck today you can get a printer, scanner, fax and copier all in one machine for less than $400.00 and it will only weight 20 pounds. The Telexes were notorious for jamming. It was a pain to fix the jam. You had to go in and open up the entire system and tug and rip the paper to get it back in line to resume the printing. The paper would be perforated so you could tear off one page at a time then assemble the document in order. You also had to pay for a phone line in addition to the machine itself so they were expensive items.
We’ll cover some more of the machines from times past at a later date.
So now the US Treasury is in the business of assuring and in effect issuing warranties for GM cars! What is up with that? When did the Treasury get into the car business. I feel like Rip Van Winkle except I didn’t go to sleep for years but only a night. Does anyone read the Constitution and laws of the land anymore? Where does Treasury get that authority? Sure be glad for you to show it to me chapter and verse. Next thing you know Treasury will be giving warranties on condoms. Laugh, yeah, but think about it. It is just another business and Government, Inc. seems to be gobbling up the free market with each passing day. Why stop with cars?