Speed of change (HLD 174)

12 Sept 2020

I was discussing today with a couple of people about the use of the gestetner machine in our household growing up. Dad, as a church minister, produced the weekly news sheet and other stuff for our various churches, so we always had a typewriter and a duplicating machine in Dads’ home office. We grew up learning how to operate this machine, and the holy grail of responsibility was getting to the stage of learning how to type up the gestetner stencils. This was not an easily trusted job, because those stencils weren’t cheap, you know. We also had multiple bottles of correction fluid in the office – the regular white ones for typing mistakes on paper, and the blue or red ones for the stencils.

My Dad, by the way, with his advanced hoarding tendencies, saved every used gestetner stencil from so many churches for so many years, because you never know when you’d need to run off a few more copies of a newsletter first printed in 1972. Mum spent many years in Dads retirement sneaking out to the incinerator to burn a handful of these hoarded stencils, while dad was out playing golf, blithely unaware that his hoard was being diminished.

He also saved the used tubes that the ink for the duplicator arrived in, because these were made of lead, which in our house were boiled down to make fishing sinkers from 🙂

Apart from the duplicator, there are many things that I grew up with that are unknown to youngsters today. Typewriters – the old carriage return version, let alone the modern electric one that had a button to return the carriage, and even allowed for corrections! – would baffle a lot of kids.

Telephones with chords and rotary dials, music cassettes, records and record players, video cassettes that needed to be rewound before use, etc etc. Our first home after we got married had a wood chip water heater, and a toilet on the back verandah! Our first washing machine was a you-beaut twin tub – the height of luxury!

Mind you – if you still have parents around they could give you more examples of technology that they delighted in, which has long since disappeared from memory. A laundry copper, kerosene lanterns, crank start cars, etc.

Let’s go back further to your grandparents or great grandparents, when household electricity, indoor plumbing, cars, etc were unheard of or at least very unfamiliar. Just imagine the concept of international air travel being suggested to your grandparents when they were young!

I wonder what we have now that will disappear from the lives of our children and grandchildren?

What technology has changed in your lifetime that you would have to explain in some detail to young people today?

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