Patty Leon, Columnist.
While sitting down for our Thanksgiving dinner, my brother, his wife and I were talking about the different generations. For example, kids today have no idea what the Yellow or White Pages were, have likely not seen or used a landline or rotary phone, never created a mix tape on a cassette recorder and most have no clue what an eight-track tape is.
My brother and I border two different generations but close enough where we experienced many of the same innovations in technology, travel and life.
My brother, born in 1962 is considered a Boomer and I’m in Generation X, born in 1965. We grew up writing essays on paper and later typewriters which then evolved into word processors and the first computers. We were the first generation to move through all the various stages of computer technology.
We listened to music on vinyl records, the 45s and the 33s and played those on huge stereos systems. Then came the cassette tapes and eight-track tapes for our cars and boom boxes. Those morphed into music videos when MTV went live on Aug. 1, 1981. Music videos then became CDs, and now we listen to music on our favorite streaming apps. (remember Napster and Rhapsody?)
The early cell phones were as big as a shoe box and were considered only for the wealthy. When they became smaller and trendier, more than likely your first “true” cell phone was a Blackberry.
We watched movies on TV when there were only three channels and you had to turn a knob to change the channel or increase the volume. Every home had a wire thing outside commonly known back then as an antenna and on top of your TV you had a set of rabbit ears you would adjust to make the picture clearer. The early TVs were big and boxy. Year after year, they became less boxy, slimmer and now we have smart TVs — and cable!
We have thousands of channels to browse these days.
Our lifestyle was different. For one thing, we played outside — for hours. Weekdays you came home, did your homework, ate dinner and go play until the sun came down. Then you got ready for the next day. On weekends, we would be outside playing with our friends and only went home for lunch and dinner.
Technology did change our play habits a bit when the first video game — the Atari 6400 — console came to market.
Our generation saw the first man on the moon, the first TV dinners (called just frozen dinners today), microwave, the first to watch movies at home via VHS tapes and later DVDs. That morphed into cable TV and all the live stream channels we have today. We watched the Berlin Wall fall, the Challenger explosion, the Watergate scandal, the Jonestown massacre, the meltdown at Three Mile Island. It was Gen Xers who founded Apple, Google, Tesla, and Amazon.
The late Boomers and Gen Xers were the first generations who likely had two working parents. So, our generations were the first to produce latchkey kids. We’d get home, fix our own snacks or meals, watch MTV while scrolling through (wait for it) — Myspace!
And let’s not forget those glorious days of dial up internet!
Night time TV dramas included Dallas, Knot’s Landing, Charlie’s Angels, Starsky and Hutch and Melrose Place. We had Cheers, Family Ties, The Golden Girls, Perfect Strangers, The Facts of Life, Full House, Night Court, Alf, Punky Brewster and so many great sitcoms.
Millennials and Gen Z were born into the technology age with more to come, but I feel blessed to have seen the best of both sides, play times with friends and the computer and techno age!