5 Things I Miss From the Good Old Days

by Ken Mueller on September 20, 2013 · 7 comments

4a3627ef0426f_110247nTime for another edition of the Friday Blogging Experience. Each Friday I step away from the world of marketing and social media and write about whatever random thing comes to mind; something historical or perhaps a bit quirky. But always random.

There’s a pay phone in downtown Lancaster that I walk past often, and it looks so lonely. No one is ever using it, and I was kind of curious why it is still there. You don’t see pay phones around much anymore, and certainly don’t see the old, traditional phone booths.

I decided to take a look at some of the other things I “miss” from back in the good ol’ days on today’s Friday Blogging Experience. Think about it, technology has advanced to the point where not only are pay phones disappearing, but house phones as well, which brings me to my list of 5 things I miss:

Rotary phones

The advance toward touch tone technology was not just a great thing for us, but for those in the entertainment field. Do you know how much time was wasted in films and television shows by people having to run to find a phone (no cell phones) and then dialing seven numbers, waiting for the dial to return each time before dialing the next number? People had to die very slowly back then so they could survive the long wait for the paramedics to arrive. And take something like the Harry Potter movie series that is 10 hours and 8 minutes in length. If they had to use a rotary phone every time they needed to make a call to order up some eye of newt, that series would be at least 12 hours long. OK, so I don’t even know if they use phones in those movies. But think about all 10 hours and 54 minutes of The Lord of the Rings. What if every time they had to make a call…uh…never mind, but you know what I mean! A touch tone phone is much faster than sending out the eagles.

Developing film

Growing up we had these cameras where you had to buy this stuff called film to put in them. And after you took a picture you had to remember to advance the film to take another picture, or you’d end up with this thing called a double exposure. And when you were done, you had to take it some place to get it developed. Eventually they built this little hobbit house kinda things called Fotomat that they plopped down in the middle of parking lots. You would drive up, drop off your film, and presumably get the developed photos back the next day. Later we would use those mailer inserts from the Sunday paper and send them off to Clark Laboratories for really cheap, deciding if we wanted double prints or matte or glossy. Then getting double prints of poorly exposed, out of focus pictures. That’s right, one of a bad photo just isn’t enough. Now I have drawers full, if anyone is interested.


Oh, and don’t forget slides. My parents still have a dozen or more slide carousels of various vacations throughout the sixties and seventies. You pop the carousel on the slide projector, set up a screen across the room, darken the room, and it’s just like the movie theater! Except with no motion. Or sound, other than the snarky and snide remarks of those viewing. Hours and hours and hours and hours…of fun…

This whole digital picture thing will never catch on…

Dial-up Modems

There was a time when “going on the internet” was a thing. We had to plan for it and alert the family. Our computer was in the dining room, no where near a phone jack. When we wanted to go online (we started with People PC and other free services like Netzero and Juno, by getting their free CDs in the mail or at local stores, and later moved to AOL with the rest of the free world), we had to make sure no one needed the phone. I would then stretch a long phone cord from the back of the computer to the jack in the kitchen. And then I would hit the button that would hopefully, maybe, connect us to this internet thing. And we would know we were on the right track when we heard the most musical of sounds…

Ain’t nothing sweeter than the sound of a dial up modem connecting. Then of course, once I disconnected, I would get a call from someone, usually my parents, wondering who I had been yammering at on the phone for so long. No, Mom and Dad. Not yammering. Connecting with the world!


While cassettes have gone the way of the dinosaur, vinyl is having a bit of renaissance, mostly because of hipsters who love to hear their music with a little bit of snap, crackle, and pop. But I’m still waiting for the return of the 8-track. While some like the tonal quality of vinyl, there’s something that 8-tracks have that cassettes, vinyl, CDs, and MP3s just don’t have.

The Clunk.

That’s right, it’s all about the Clunk.

You know, you’re in your car, listening to that hot new 8-track album from Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and the best song comes on. You settle in behind the wheel enjoying the drive, wishing someone had invented something called cruise control so you could pay less attention to driving and more attention to being cool. And midway through the song, just as it’s hitting it’s stride, the song fades to silence. Deafening silence for about four seconds, and then it hits.

The Clunk.


This is your 8-track switching from one “program” to another, and then the song fades back in and finishes. Oh, some might complain about how it ruined the song, but no, for me it is forever etched in my mind as a part of the song; a piece of rebellious performance art, if you will. So much so, that when I hear that song on the radio without the silence and the clunk, I lean over to my kids and say,

“Oh, I remember the original version of that song. It was about 8-seconds longer. And had…The Clunk.”

You can keep your stinkin’ vinyl.

Big Bulky Calculators

My son went into the college store the other day and spent about $15 dollars on this thing called a scientific calculator. It has all sorts of buttons and multi-function capabilities. When I saw it, it took me back to a much simpler time when men were men and technology was manly. Or something. Our first calculator was a little beauty from Texas Instruments that gave me the ability to do every kind of math I needed: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. That’s right: the big four. I had no need for percentages, square roots, cubing, sine, cosine, and the rest of that trigonometric voodoo. Give me the big four on a big, bulky calculator, and make me pay $129 for it. That’s my kind of technology. I’m just glad Apple wasn’t around making calculators at that time, I’d have to buy a new one every year, and pay more each time: iAdd.

There you have it. Five things that I happen to miss from yesteryear.

What other types of things do you have fond, or not so fond, memories of?



That was a delightful post. I haven't had a house phone in a decade. I haven't thought about 8-tracks in a long time. I didn't have many of them, but my grandmother did. She had everything Alabama had done and a crazy amount of Christmas music. I remember the clunk.

I don't miss dial-up modems, but I do miss the C prompt. Is it so hard to remember the path to the program one wanted and simply type it in?

The other day I had to get a computer hooked up to a monitor so my boss could get some data off of it. It is a 386 machine. That took me back. My first computer was a sinclair Z-81 with a one line screen that one built from a kit. After that it was a commodore. Ah, the good old days.

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Stretched that phone cord across the house just to send emails to the VOL listserv. Now those were the days.

KenMueller moderator

@ExtremelyAvg I think my first computer was a hand me down from my dad, some sort of Tandy product from Radio Shack. 

KenMueller moderator

@teamccloud ah, the place we met. So we were both stretching cords across the house at that point.


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