What technology did I use when I was younger?

200th Post

This post is the 200th to be posted on this blog. It's been a wonderful journey of sharing. 🙂

Mrs Jordan and Year 4, take a look at the "Post 201: About Bilbies and 200 Posts" post for a surprise.

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A class posed the question, "What technology did you use when you were younger?" To see their original post, click on their question.

What technology did I use?

Let's take a journey back to the 1950s. When I was born, radio and going to the cinema, drive in or live performances were the normal entertainment. Computers were around but they were big, heavy and very expensive yet your mobile phone of today is far more powerful. These computers were only found in big companies or universities, not in homes.

Let's see some of the changes I saw.

1950s

Telephone - Telephones had been around for a long time before I was nborn but my family was the first in our street to have a telephone so neighbours would make and receive calls to our house. I still remember our phone number. It was UY 5734. That's right, we had letters and numbers and the phone had a rotary dial. It could be very awkward if it was a cold, rainy night when someone called for a neighbour and my father had to go and get them.

By Louise Docker from sydney, Australia (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Louise Docker from sydney, Australia (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Television - They started to appear in Australia in 1956. We, like the phone, were the only home with television in our area. It was black and white and not a very big screen. My father would arrive home from work to find people everywhere in our loungeroom trying to look at the TV screen. At first, they were just looking at photos such as of the Sydney Harbour Bridge until one night on 16th September, 1956 a man named Bruce Gyngell appeared to welcome us to television. Television had started so we could watch the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games. For us in Sydney, our first TV station was TCN-9.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Record players - My parents owned a radio/record player for music and news. My mother had 78rpm* as well as 33 1/3rpm LP* records.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Games - They weren't electronic. We had board games such as Monopoly, checkers, chess and Ludo.

Cameras - We had film cameras we would use to take photos. Once taken, we would send the rolls of film away to be processed and printed. There were no video cameras but we did have movie cameras. The home movie cameras used 8mm film (see below). However, some people used 16mm film in cameras. They gave better pictures but were much more expensive. My first photo camera looked more like a black box and didn't take very good photos but my father had a better camera.

8mm movie camera and film 

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Here is a scan of some 8mm film frames. It's from a Popeye cartoon.

8mm film scan

Movie film shows 1 frame (picture) at a time. When chaning quickly, the pictures seem to be moving. Here is a video clip showing how 8 frames from above can seem to move.

We would watch the 8mm movies projected on a screen.

*rpm - revolutions per minute - the number of times it turns in one minute.

* LP - long playing

There were no computers, iPads, and mobile phones in homes back then.

1960s

I was in primary and high school in the 1960s. Classes could have 40 children.

Pens and ink wells - At first, we had pencils but no ball point pens in class. In Year 3, I was an ink well monitor. My job was to fill the inkwells so students could dip their pens in to write. It was late 1963 when the school allowed students to use ball point pens. The only other way of writing was if we had a typewriter.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Computers - It was in the late 60s I saw my first computer at a science fair at high school. It was huge and could only play noughts and crosses. By the late 60s I had an interest in electronics so the big machine with valves in it reminded me of inside TVs of the day.

Transistor radio - The 60s was also the time I bought my first transistor radio. Imagine being able to hold a radio in your hand and listen to music.

1970s

This was when technology started to take off for me.

TV Games - I bought an electronic kit and was able to make a very simple game I could play on a TV. A small, very simple motorbike would move across the screen as you twisted a knob on the control box I built. You had to jump small "buses" that looked like white blobs.

The game looked a little like this on the screen.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Computers - In 1971, I visited the Atomic Energy Commission at Lucas Heights south of Sydney. I saw my first nuclear reactor and serious computer while there, a computer no one could afford to have in the home. The programs were on a series of cards. Programmers punched out holes in them. Hundreds might be needed for a big project so they would be left to run overnight. If one card had a mistake, the whole computer stopped and waited until the car was fixed.

This is what a programming card looked like.

This image was sourced through Wikimedia commons where it is listed as being in the public domain.

This image was sourced through Wikimedia commons where it is listed as being in the public domain.

Computers and me - It was in the 70s I first had the chance to use a computer while studying science at Sydney University. We didn't have floppy disks, hard drives, CDs, DVDs, USB devices or computer screens. There was a very large typing machine where you would type in your program. To have a copy of the program, a long strip of thick paper tape was fed through the printer and holes were punched in it. Graduates had something special, they had cassette drive but I was an undergraduate and had to stick to the tape.

The first computer I used at university (college) looked a little like this.

This image was sourced through Wikimedia commons where it is listed as being in the public domain.

This image was sourced through Wikimedia commons where it is listed as being in the public domain.

Teaching technology - When I started teaching in the 70s, I was a high tech type of teacher. Back then it meant I used a cassette player/recorder, a slide projector, and 8mm movie projector and an overhead projector in class. I wasn't able to use computers in class in the 70s but I did build some simple electronic kits for the children to use.

Audio cassette.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

35mm Slide Projector. It still works.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

8mm Movie Projector. It still works.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

 Overhead Projector. It still works.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Television - Colour TV started in the mid 70s.

Calculators - I was able to buy my first calculator in the 1970s. It could only add, subtract, multiply and divide. Around 1975, I bought my first scientific calculator. It could do much more. It's old and very worn but I still have it. Before calculators, I used a slide rule and logarithm tables.

My old calculator is 40 years old but still works. Good one Sharp!

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Cameras - I have a few cameras to take still photos in the 70s. All used rolls of film.

Floppy Disks - Cassettes had been used to store program for computers since the early 70s but, by the late 70s, we had floppy disks to store programs. They came first in 8 inch, 5.25 inch and 3.5 inch sizes.

5 1/4 inch (13cm) Floppy Disk

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

1980s

Now we were starting to get really serious.

An Apple II computer.

Rama [CC BY-SA 2.0 fr (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/fr/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

Rama [CC BY-SA 2.0 fr (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/fr/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

Computers in class In 1981 - I was in a small country school in western N.S.W. We had one Apple II computer we shared with five other small schools. There was still no internet, our class TV only had one channel if the weather was good, and the phone was oen where you would wind a handle and ask the operator for a number. It was in this year I wrote a couple simple programs for the children to use on the computer. One was a treasure hunt game and I always managed to beat the class members. Remember, I was the programmer so I programme d the computer to give me hints only I understood. Did that make me a cheat? 🙂

Video camera - It was in 1982 I bought my first video camera. It was large and had a heavy side pack you carried over your shoulder. Batteries were large and had lead inside so they were heavy. Back then, people thought I was with a televison station because video camera were very rare. I was visitng the town of Bathurst with my school that year when Queen Elizabeth II visited. Seeing the camera, police let me through the barrier so I could take a close up of the Queen. I'm sure they also thought I was from a TV station.

This is part of the video clip  taken in 1982 during the Queen's visit to Bathurst. It was converted from VHS to digital.

Video Cassette Recorders (VCR) - These appeared in the early 80s and we could finally record programmes and watch movies. With my video camera and VCR, I was able to edit video I had taken. With my school Apple II computer and a small program I wrote, I could even add titles to the videos.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Computers in Schools - I helped introduce computers to two schools in the 80s. I was called a computer coordinator back then. As well as teaching, it was my job to care for the computers in the schools. Because of my electronics hobby, I was often able to fix computers with problems.

Computers and me - It was in the late 80s I bought my first computer. It was an Apple IIGS. With a printer (black and white only), I was able to print worksheets and dislpays for my class and other teachers . With only one computer in the school for classes to share in my first year there in 1988, I bought an Apple IIC computer for my class to use. I was really hooked on how they could be used in class.

An Applie IIGS computer just like the one I owned.

By Alison Cassidy (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Alison Cassidy (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

1990s

Computers in schools - In the 90s, the number of computers I owned grew as I bought or was given computers needing repair. The computer room I ran for a few years had 16 computers but only one was owned by the school. It was also in the early 90s I first used the internet with classes. I would roll my Apple IIc computer and modem down to an office and connect to a phone line. It was slow and could only show text. There was no graphics, music or video and I paid $5 an hour for access. By the end of the 90s, I had installed the first network room in the school and we then had a whole school network installed with internet access.

Computers and me - By the end of the 90s, I owned about 45 computers. I would have some of them in my classroom and lend others to the students in my class to use at home. The computers included Apple II, Apple Macintosh, Atari, Commodore, Acorn and a few other types as well as Sega and Gameboy handheld game devices. At home, I was using Apple Macintosh and Windows computers.

Handheld Gameboy Advance games machine.

The copyright holder of this image, Christopher Down, allows anyone to use it [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons

The copyright holder of this image, Christopher Down, allows anyone to use it [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons

Cameras - In the 90s, I ran after school computer classes for students, the money I raised bought the schools first digital photo camera. The camera wasn't of great quality but the Apple Quicktake 100 meant I could load photos straight into a computer. In the late 90s, I also bought my first digital video camera. The photo quality was much better than the old video camera.

By Gmhofmann at de.wikipedia (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Gmhofmann at de.wikipedia (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Phones - In the 1990s, I bought my first mobile phone. You had to carry it like a small bag as it was large and weighed around 1kg but it was mobile and it worked.

Scanners and printers - In the 90s, I bought my first scanners and colour printers and had fun scanning photos and making changed photos for the student newspaper. Scanners were able to read printed writing so I didn't need to type everything.

CDs - Music CDs appeared and we were able to use these instead of vinyl LP records. We were even able to burn our own CDs .

This graphic came from a Corel graphics CD purchased in the 1980s under the Totem set of graphics.

This graphic came from a Corel graphics CD purchased in the 1980s under the Totem set of graphics.

DVDs - DVDs appeared in the late 90s and we were able to record movies from TV or add videos we made to them.

2000s

in these years I was retired from teaching by the end of 2005.

Computers in schools - Whole school networks, internet, You Tube, editing video on computers, digital cameras, small mobile phonesetc... The growth has been amazing. I moved to a new school and allowed children in my old school who had borrowed my computers to keep them. I had way too many for moving house and made a rule I should own no more than 10 for use in home and school.

Computers and me - I added my first laptop computer in this era.

Cameras - I bought my first digital SLR* camera and could simply plug it into the computer to load and edit photos and started buying extra video cameras for making DVDs and CDs for schools and community groups.

I have only just replaced this camera with a new digital SLR camera able to record HD video as well as photos.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Internet - was a part of everyday life.

Mobile phone - Mobiles were now much smarter and started to access the internet.

* SLR - Single Lens Reflex - It meant a type of camera where so look through the camera lens when taking a photo.

2010s

We're up to the current era.

I started blogging in 2012 and still am a keen techie type of person but no longer need all of the equipment I used while teaching but still have enough for producing filming and photographing performances as well as making CDs and DVDs for school and community groups.

So much has changed since I was your age. It makes you wonder what we might have in the future.

Will one of you invent something or create a brilliant app in the future?

8 thoughts on “What technology did I use when I was younger?

  1. katrina

    Awesome blog Ross! What a journey it’s been. I didn’t realize you are such a tekkie!

    Reply
    1. rossmannell

      Post author

      Hi Katrina,

      Growing up with a father and uncles all electricians, being interested in electronics and then computing seemed a natural follow on. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Miss Jordan

    Dear Ross,

    Wow, we are so grateful for your fabulous post! We thoroughly enjoyed looking through your text, photos, images and videos to learn more about how technology has progressed since the 1960s. I often tell my students that my schooling was very different to theirs and that they are lucky to have information at their fingertips with the vast range of devices available.

    Looking at your photos and images brought about a lot of discussion. My students were particularly curious about the first computer you used at university. It certainly looks nothing like computers and tablet devices we use today!

    We also inferred that you clearly look after your belongings, given that many of your overhead projector and movie projector still work!

    Thank you for taking the time to publish this extended comment on your blog. We really appreciate it! 🙂

    Kind regards,

    Miss Jordan and 4B

    Reply
    1. rossmannell

      Post author

      Hello 4B,

      The old computer was certainly very different to computers of today. It used glass valves instead of microchips and, even though we didn’t talk of memory in that way back then, I found it had what would be about 8kb of memory to run programs. The computer I am using at this time has 8Gb of memory. That is 8,000,000Kb of memory or a million times more than the old computer I used at university. Noe that’s a huge change in computing power. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Flynn

    Hi Ross,

    This is Flynn for 4B and I would like to thank you of making an amazing post about your technology you had. I really like the photos and videos. It has changed a lot since the 1950’s.

    From Flynn

    Reply
    1. rossmannell

      Post author

      Thank you for the comment, Flynn.

      Luckliy I have been keen on photography and video for a very long time so I have tens of thousands of photos and hundreds of video clips I can use in posts. So much has changed and, while I liked theold technology, I love using the computing power we have these days. I can do so much more sitting at my computer than I could have imagined when I was your age. 🙂

      Reply
  4. Anonymous

    Hi Ross,
    My name is Jarrah I’m in 4B with miss Jordan.
    I really enjoyed reading your long and interesting post. It would be really cool to watch technology change. I mean look at technology now compared to then!
    Achwolie it looks like technology was more interesting back then.
    Lovely to here from you from your friend Jarrah!😀

    Reply
    1. rossmannell

      Post author

      Thanks for the comment, Jarrah.

      Being a ocmputer user in the 70s and 80s was very interesting because you could see changes appearing each year but isn’t that the same now? I love seeing new developments, especially if I can make use of them. I wonder what school children of 2050 might think when you tell them what you used in school now? I think some would find the idea of iPads interesting but I wonder what they might be using? That’s an exciting thought. 🙂

      Reply

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