the world has changed a lot since I was born.
I’ve been compiling a list of all the things that didn’t exist when I was born – things that have come into existence since the late Sixties (well, in Australia anyway).
I think there’s actually an endless number of them, so I’d like to invite all readers to add a few of your own…
Here’s my list to start you off: I REMEMBER BEFORE THERE WAS…
- Colour TV. I remember my first experience of watching colour TV. It was in a hotel room at the expensive Wentworth Hotel in Sydney. It was 1972 or 1974 (I can’t remember which). I remember noticing that the backdrop to the British Paints commercial (featuring Rolf Harris) was pale blue, not white as I’d assumed.
- Indoor Soccer. Anyone remember when that was introduced?
- Mobile phones, and even touch-tone phones. I remember seeing a non-rotary-dial phone and thinking that it would be too easy to dial a wrong number. We still call it “dialling a number”, even though there’s no dials anymore.
- DVDs – and even VCRs. I remember the old VCRs (not for household use). They were the size of a small dog-kennel. Now the technology’s superceded…
- Environmentalism. Noticing that how we were living was damaging our environment and potentially unsustainable seems to date back to the Sixties.
- The Internet and even PCs. There’s currently more processing power in a $5 digital watch than there was in the first PCs (circa 1978). And who can imagine what we did before the Internet…?
- Other common technology items:
- Digital cameras
- MP3 players
- Fax machines
- Digital watches. I remember when Roderick Henry came to school one day in 1978 showing off the digital watch he got for his birthday. It was one of those LED ones, with the black face and the red letters that lit up and showed the time when you pressed a button. He pressed the button so many times that day, showing off what his watch could do, that the battery was dead before he got home.
- etc etc – I’m sure you can think of another dozen without even trying…
- Ansett Airlines, Australian Airlines and even TAA (remember TAA?)
- Video-arcade games (Space Invaders and its descendents)
- Drive-thrus. In fact, most fast-food chains (Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut) hadn’t made it to Australia when I was little.
- The Soviet Union, The Berlin Wall, Apartheid, etc
- FM radio. Yep, back then there was only AM.
- Sports drinks, such as Gatorade. Even bottled mineral water (Perrier was one of the first)
- Thai restaurants. Sydney has changed so much. If you wanted to eat out in the 70s, and didn’t want fast-food or supremely expensive French restaurants, you basically ate Chinese.
- Blind person assistance noises on pedestrian crossings (you know what I mean)
- Roundabouts. Some bright spark came up with roundabouts as an alternative to traffic lights at intersections, and they did it in my lifetime!
- Cinema multiplexes. Back in my day, each cinema was enormous, and there was only one of them per building. Sometimes they even had two levels, like theatres. In fact, there wasn’t much difference (structurally) between a cinema and a theatre.
- NRC ratings (for movies). This was the precursor to “PG”. “NRC” stood for “Not Recommended for Children”. Remember?
- Ratings on TV. Speaking of ratings, back then there were restricted to movies. TV content may have been rated, but the general public never got to know what those ratings were.
- Tealight candles
- Light beer. Well, light anything for that matter.
- Wheelie Bins. It used to be that the old-style bins (with the lids you clipped on with two clips) were the only options.
- 2-Dollar shops
- Self-serve service stations
- The metric system. I remember when they were changing all the roadsigns over from miles to kilometres. They did this in 1974, and I was about 10. That’s a good age to switch to metric, as I can now speak both languages pretty easily. Any older and I’d have had a harder time learning the metric system, any younger and I’d never have known what miles and pounds were. Isn’t it interesting how we still use feet and inches to say how tall we are. If someone asked me how tall I was and I answered “191 centimetres”, they wouldn’t know what I was talking about (6’3″, in case you’re wondering).
- Unleaded petrol
- Gyms. Nobody went to the gym back then. If you’d opened a gym in 1971, expecting that the general public would pay you large sums of money to come in and use your exercise equipment, you’d have lasted about a week.
- Five-speed gearboxes. Yep, four speeds was all there was, back then. Now we’re up to six speeds on some cars.
- Flavoured milk. Who was the bright spark of marketing milk with chocolate, strawberry or vanilla flavouring in it? Kinda like milkshakes, but without the ice-cream. I particularly remember the girl in the bikini on the Moove commercial. I even had a poster of her in my room [wistful sigh]…
- Layered hair colour. It took me a long time to cotton onto this one. Women have been dying their hair forever, but when did they start layering it? Isn’t it supposed to be all one colour? I’m such a bloke, I swear. My girlfriend showed me her new haircut/colour one day, and asked me what I thought of it. I said, “It’s not a very good job – you’ve still got dark roots showing.” She rolled her eyes at me and told me it’s supposed to be that way, that it gives her hair that shimmery look to it (she tossed her head from side to side, for effect).
- UHT milk
- Milk cartons. It was all bottles back at the dawn of time…
- PET bottles (for Coke, orange juice, etc). I repeat, it was all bottles back at the dawn of time…
- AIDS. Brand new disease, back in around 1980. Came from monkeys, they said…
- Hatchback cars. Sedans or station wagons. Those were your choices back then. Now we’ve got SUVs, 4WDs, …
- Rules about bicycle helmets. We used to be able to ride around without a helmet. Gone are the days….
- Sunscreen mania. You see mothers these days with their kids, out at the park or on the beach. The kids are wearing long-sleeved T-shirts and pants, hats and gloves, and are sitting under an umbrella. Then the mother will gasp in horror as she notices that one of the kids has an ear exposed to the sun, so she’ll dip him in a vat of 30+ sunscreen. SPF 30+??? When did that come along? Back when I was a kid there wasn’t even numbers on the bottles. They were called “tanning oils” and they actually magnified the sun’s rays. It was a bit like being deep-fried. The sun was certainly never viewed as “poison in the sky”. We were always told to “get outside and get some sun!” Kids these days get so little sun they’re anaemic.
- Ban on TV cigarette advertising. “Anyhow, have a Winfield”. Onya Hoges. It won’t be long before the only place you can smoke is on a rowboat 30 miles offshore. By yourself.
Okay. That’s all I got. Your turn….