Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Don't Touch That Dial

My third brother was about three years old. He had a morning routine. After the rest of us went to school he was given a penny. Mom watched him walk up to the corner and the woman in the store watched him walk the rest of the way to the store where he bought a piece of candy. Then she watched him to the corner and Mom watched him the rest of the way home.

Once at home my brother would watch the morning children's programs. This was his morning ritual every day.

One morning he hurriedly told my mother to turn the television off because he had to go to the bathroom. He did not want to miss anything so he would have her turn it back on when he was ready.

Mom thought it was hilarious. But when you think about it, it makes perfect sense to a three-year-old. If the TV is not on neither is the program.

Now that happened in the middle 1950's. The town we lived in had 1, count it, 1 television channel available. It was a combination of the three networks. Whatever programs the heads of the station chose were what we watched.

Many years passed. We had a new way to watch movies on television. VCR's had been invented. You hooked the machine up to the television. Then you chose the movie you wished to see. There was a cartridge you injected into the machine. After a bit of fiddling with buttons you could watch the movie in the luxury of your own home.

VCR's were so simple a child could operate them. My nephew enjoyed watching movies. Unfortunately he was also a mischievous child.  My sister had to invest in a new DVD machine after my nephew inserted a Hershey bar and then a cartridge.

Then came the DVD player. Instead of those bulky cartridges you had a flat disc to insert into the machine attached to your television. The discs were not going to stick in the machine. They were also much easier to store. They took up so much less space.

Someone came up with the idea to store programs seen on television. If you were not at home when your favorite program came on you could program your DVR to save it for you to watch at your leisure.

Or what if there were two programs on at the same time and they were both important to you? You could watch one and record one to watch later. Perhaps you could not be at home. Record them both for later. Progress is a wonderful thing.

Now I have a DVR that will allow for 5 programs at the same time! Imagine that. There are three televisions in my home. One in the living room, one in my room, and one in my son's room. Each TV in bedrooms is connected to the main DVR in the living room.

I can watch programs that I have saved in my room before I go to sleep. If I see something I would like to record for another time I can issue the order from my room.

I can search for my favorite actors or an upcoming program to set a recording so I do not forget about it. I can even set series recordings for programs that I watch weekly or daily. There are even programs like baseball that are seasonal. If I set a series recording for my favorite team the games will begin recording when the new season begins. I do not have to reset the series recordings.

Technology makes all this possible. And it is such a frivolous thing. If I were to miss an episode of my favorite soap opera I would survive. If I miss one baseball game out of the season I would probably live. But I do not have to.

If all this is possible just think what else can be done. Most of these improvements were not even imagined once. Now we realize that if we can imagine something we can make it so. Marvelous.


  1. Children are children and they have great sense of logic but we grown ups think their ideas are hilarious. Many things which children imagined have become realities now. For instance going to the moon. Children always wanted to catch the moon and now men have landed on the moon.

    Surely, many welcome changes have taken place in our lives since we were born. More ease, more comfort, more leisure time, more enjoyment and more laziness.

    Excellent post. I enjoyed reading it.

    Best wishes

    1. Thank you. I enjoyed writing it. Children do have a way of cutting through all the layers to get to the logic.

  2. Thanks for another entertaining post. We had about 5 stations when I was growing up. Now it seems that I have a thousand.

    1. I lived in a little town in Nebraska so we only got the feed from a small television station in the next town. My grandparents lived on their farm about 3 miles out of town and they got entirely different programming than we did.

  3. Thanks for another entertaining post. We had about 5 stations when I was growing up. Now it seems that I have a thousand.

  4. I can't recall how many stations we had growing up, but do remember the call letters of ABC (7), CBS (2), NBC (4), and WOR (9), forget the letters for channel 5. It is indeed amazing that you can tape shows for later viewing, but we never invested in a DVR and don't subscribe to any TV services. We can, however, get a few channels through a window-mounted antenna as we now live in an apt so no roof antenna is possible.

    1. You do not watch much TV anyway. I have the television on most of the time. However sometimes I have it on one of the many music channels. It is a background noise because my house is so quiet.

    2. Oh boy, you are right, it is SO different now! I remember watching sports with my Granddad, he would have LOVE it now! You can pause, rewind to your heart's content! He used to HATE to get up and go to the bathroom during a game, he hated to miss a minute!
      And I always made sure to note then "A Charlie Brown Christmas" came on...if you missed it, you couldn't see it till the next year.
      I was babysitting and came home and my mother and sister told me that I had just missed the last episode of "The Fugitive". Sorry, they said, you would have really liked it, it was good. I never have seen it!!!

    3. My uncles used to listen to the ballgames on the radio because they did not yet have television. The radio was set on the kitchen table and a thin wire was strung from the radio to be fasten on the wires of the screen door so they could get reception. Then everyone sat around the kitchen table and rooted for the Cardinals.