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Friday, January 7, 2011

Ch-ch-ch-changes...

I was listening to the '80s station on Sirius this morning on the ride in, and they were playing their hourly "Video Killed the Radio Star" (by the Buggles), when this line jumped out at me:

"We can't rewind we've gone too far"

And it dawned on me: we don't have anything to rewind any more. 8-tracks, reel-to-reel, even cassette tapes have all gone the way of the dodo. VHS tapes are periliously close, with digital media becoming so plentiful and inexpensive (and transferable) that tape media for the vast majority of Americans no longer exists.


  • Ditto the concept of "taping" something. Even though we geezers continue to use the expression, no one uses "tapes" any more. With the advent of inexpensive 4, 16, and even larger memory cards no larger than a quarter, storage on a book-sized videotape just doesn't make sense.

  • "Dropped a dime" on someone lately? Hell, can you even find a pay phone any more? Gather 'round children, and let kindly Uncle Jay tell you a story about the old days. Way back in the dawn of time (early 1980s), people just didn't have cell phones. I know it's hard to believe, but there were these devices called "pay phones" that people would use to make phone calls when outside of their homes. You would insert a dime and make a local call, and - wait, where are you going...

  • Speaking of phones, why do we still "dial" the phone when there's no more dial? Shouldn't we button the phone? Ditto waiting for the dial tone.

  • "Just the fax, ma'am" - with scanners, e-mail, etc., does anyone fax anything any more? I can't think of a word processing program or spreadsheet program that doesn't go direct into e-mail, and anything that could be sent by fax can easily be handled so much faster and clearer electronically, that it's hard to imagine anyone using a fax any more.

  • "Stop the presses" - while we still do in fact have printing presses for newspaper, the media is dead. It may be in the death throes for a while longer, but the days of the daily newspaper are coming to a close. Paper media is expensive, wasteful, and slow - it's the information transfer of the past...

  • When someone blows something under pressure, we still call it a choke, even though the only things with a choke these days are lawn mowers. The days of manual forced flow restriction to start an internal combustion engine are long gone.

  • "Remote control". Remote control was only "remote" for a short period of time. It's actually "radio" control - meaning wireless - as opposed to the controls being on a tethered line.

  • TV Dinners. Man, remember when eating in front of the television was a rare treat, rather than something you do every single night? (actually, we don't allow the TV on during meals, but we're the exception to the rule).

What other phrases can you think of that haven't stood the test of time?

That is all.

39 comments:

Rev. Paul said...

We still use the fax machine frequently, for business. All my personal things are scanned & e-mailed, though.

Brad_in_MA said...

Jay,

In my family we still "dial the phone" even though rotary dial phone went out about 30 years ago. BTW . . . my grandfather on mom's side worked for Western Electric back in the day and made the rotary dial components.

- Brad

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure it's "just the facts, ma'am." From Joe Friday on Dragnet. (Which would predate fax machines.)

To relate back to guns, how about "lock, stock, and barrel." Lock could be replaced with "action," but even still: action, stock, and barrel wouldn't have the same meaning of completeness. A modern gun would still require a trigger (lots of actions aren't sold with triggers), sights (as they're not always attached to the barrel, or only to the barrel), etc.

Jay G said...

Rev. Paul,

We get faxes here at work, too. In fact, some companies actually mail their orders in!

Brad,

Exactly. Somewhere in my basement is one of the original Ma Bell black rotary phones that I rescued from oblivion after my grandmother passed away. I would love to try and get it working for a house phone, but from what I've heard it can't be done...

Anon,

"Just the fax, ma'am" was from Diehard II.

No respect for the classics, I tell ya... ;)

Patrick said...

The railroad business is slow to change and I have a number of people who don't even have business email... They are yard folk who will mail or fax a PO in for an order. I also have a number of people who can't scan anything, so they fax.

Chad said...

My better half uses a fax machine regularly as a medical transcriptionist. We don't allow the tv on during meals either. Trouble with that is that between the various sports activities we don't actually sit down all together and eat a meal that often. No tv, no laptops, no phones, everybody will survive for 30 minutes without them. I've got an old desktop rotary phone around here somewhere. It could probably double as a blunt instrument if necessary. Do you count snowmobiles in the same category as lawn mowers, 'cause all three of mine, including the '09 'cat have a manual choke.

Anonymous said...

"it's your nickel"

and no, I'm not old enough either to actually remember nickel pay phones.

Also, I have a car with a manual choke ('73 Spitfire).

Mr Evilwrench said...

The fax machine actually goes back to something like the 1850's, when Joe Friday's grandfather was just a twinkle in his great grandfather's eye. XYL was asked for assistance in using the fax machine at work one day last week; when she found out the guy was faxing a job application somewhere else, she told him to get out.

I guess we use the obsolete terms because while they were originally descriptive of the activity itself, we've fallen behind in making up new terms. They're just so comfortable. I do remember renting DVDs with "Be kind, please rewind" stickers on them, but in fact those were RFID stickers, so it kinda makes sense.

TOTWTYTR said...

The terms long outlast the items from which they were derived. Thus we'll "dial" forever.

I don't think that the reference to choking has anything to do with engines. I think it has to do with the very human propensity to choke on food that is larger than the gullet down which it is supposed to go. Hence the related term, "biting off more than he can chew".

I don't knot that rotary phones, called "digital" in telephone parlance, can still work in the phone system. I haven't seen one in years other than on TV. Then again, since Verizon doesn't have a monopoly on phone service any more, it's possible that a rotary phone would work on their system, but not on Comcast or any other IP based phone system.

cybrus said...

"Here's a quarter, go call someone who cares" - that line started its demise with the pay phone jump to 35 cents and is now irrelevant. Doesn't stop me from using it!

We eat dinner at the dining room table with no TV except for special occasions where one or both of the kids did something awesome and get pizza and a movie for dinner.

Hunter said...

For the JayG "house" phone, try to find the article on line where someone converted a rotary phone into a cell phone. They used it in their car. A big ol' 1940's analog phone with cellular guts.
I think I saw it on RobertaX's site.

Hunter
Alaska

Leatherwing said...

I had a black rotary dial phone. It came out of a house where it had been for 50 years. Had a 4 prong wall plug. I found a way to wire it into an ordinary phone jack and used it for a few years. When it rang the whole neighborhood knew.
Let it go in a garage sale a few years ago. Regret that part.

Reputo said...

What's great is when my kids use terms like "Can we tape [insert kids program]?" The oldest may have used a cassette tape once or twice and may have used the VCR a half dozen times. Other than that it has been CDs, DVDs, and DVR. The youngest has never used any kind of tape, or even seen a VCR.

Sean D Sorrentino said...

The Fax Machine! I hateses it!

I have to fax all of my medical receipts to the company that handles my medical savings account. I ended up buying a fax machine solely to do this one thing. I don't use it for anything else. They refuse to accept email. How many levels of stupid is this.

1. Medical Savings Accounts. Caused by income taxes.

2. Company run health plans. Caused by income taxes.

3. Stupid paperwork reporting requirements. Caused by income taxes.

You know, if we just eliminated income taxes I could get rid of this stupid fax machine. Plus a bunch of other stupid things I have to deal with in life.

Tango said...

"The Buck Stops Here"
It was used in poker games to keep track of who the dealer was. They'd stab the knife into the table in front of them. Nobody uses wooden poker tables in public settings and certainly nobody anymore is going to stab their plastic poker table. This was old-west type stuff.

Ross said...

Jay,

first off, 8 track tapes were NEVER rewound. One-way only - you could fast forward them but never rewind them.

As for fax... that's the fastest way to get something with a real signature over to it's destination. Many folks don't have scanners yet, although they're getting there. And no, Dragnet does NOT pre-date the fax machine. Not by a century.

And most any remote control you can name (except for RC cars, boats and planes) is NOT radio but infrared.

And if you want to use your old rotary phone on today's network, as your friendly neighborhood Telephone Man I can tell you that it WILL work. The circuitry to decipher the pulse dialing is in every CO in the country. Now, you may need a new cord as I don't think that they still make four prong outlets, but it'll work. Or you could retrofit it: http://www.oldphoneworks.com/ Let me know if you're serious about getting that thing hooked up - I've been doing phones for 20 years. We can either get a new modular cord or I can hunt around for a 4 prong jack for you. (BTW... I've got an old candlestick phone that I'm refurbishing to use at home - no dial, it's just an extension)

Stretch said...

"Cream rises to the top" - when was the last time you saw a glass bottle of un-homogenized milk with the cream at top?
"That was an E Ticket ride!" - And the last time Disney issued a ticket book was when?
"That and 5 cents will get you a cup of coffee." - Ya, right.
"You sound a broken record." - Explain an LP, needle and tone arm to a generation raised on Ones and Zeros.

wolfwalker said...

Somebody must still use fax -- after all, the 'all-in-one' (printer, scanner, copier, fax) is still a viable product.

You can also still buy LP turntables, and in fact there's been a small revival of vinyl lately since many audiophiles insist that an LP played on a turntable produces better sound than a CD, and much better than an MP3 player.

Landline phones still produce dial tones.

"Hell, can you even find a pay phone any more? "

Saw one somewhere not too long ago.

"What other phrases can you think of that haven't stood the test of time?"

"Film at 11." Nobody uses film anymore. Certainly not for video, and precious few even for still photography. I almost cried when I heard that Kodachrome film was being discontinued...

John Stephens said...

"Lock and Load!" is still current. And the military still refers to the standard FMJ small arms round as "Ball" ammunition.

Wolfwood said...

Another change:

How many phone numbers do you know off the top of your head? Don't count ones with words in them.

I remember my parents' house number (because it's the same as from when I was growing up) and my neighbor's number from the same period. If something happens to my phone, I'm SOL.

bogie said...

Bought a turntable to replace the old one a couple of years ago. And, bought a vinyl record last spring - and it was a 2010 release of a band that had just gotten together.

There are 2 pay phones in the town of Hillsboro that I know of.

Anonymous said...

Anyone else hearing Kathy Mattea's "Record Time (33, 45, 78)" in their heads as they read the comments? That and "Pennsylvania 6-5000."
LittleRed1

Anonymous said...

FAX is still huge for legal documents. Unless the email is encrypted, and you really trust the encryption software, confidential information can't be sent over the internet.

Clint1911 said...

Nuclear vessels "set sail."

Whenever a thing is created it mimics the thing it replaced.

Sumdood said...

I'm old enough to remember when there was such a thing as "deviant sex"...

Mr Evilwrench said...

Oh yes, dial phones will still work. In fact, you don't even need a dial; pick up the handset and tap the switch once for a one, twice for a two, etc., pausing between digits. I've made calls from those courtesy phones with no dial at hotels, airports, and such. It takes some patience, but it still works.

I saw some new vinyl at Fry's recently, rereleases of some classic albums. Nearly brought a tear to my eye. My 15 y/o wasn't so impressed.

Tam said...

"I don't knot that rotary phones, called "digital" in telephone parlance, can still work in the phone system."

Yes, they can. POTS still supports rotary phones. We have a classic, bomb-proof Western Electric 302 in the office here at Roseholme Cottage that gets used every day.

Jeff the Baptist said...

We still used faxes at work all the time. It's useful for non-digitized forms. It's also useful for maintaining a chain of custody by old fashioned means.

The predominant technology on remote controls is still infrared not radio. More importantly the controls are still "remote" as they are removed from the appliance in question.

I actual saw a modern day cop show where crime scene included TV dinners. All I could think was "where do you even buy those anymore?"

Ancient Woodsman said...

I have digital phone service through Comcast, and two rock-solid rotary phones that work just fine with the digital service. One is a wall mount & the other is a desktop. They are bomb-proof and as long as they still work with the provider we will keep them.

Sure, you can't do certain things that require a touch-tone, but that's not the point, is it?

ViolentIndifference said...

Aww. A lot of these posts turned all technical when I wasn't looking. *sad engineer*

The land-line phone system is remarkable reliable for not changing the specifications for the interface to your home. Imagine a modern PC that could still read single-sided 5.25" floppies and open files correctly. That is less than 3 decades and is practically impossible. Your grandfather's phone will still ring...

Standard Mischief said...

something faxed is the legal equivalent to a copy of the original document, so it's not going away any time soon. Email is not the legal equivlent

And there's something screwy with the "fax over IP" standards such that they're not going all digital and internet anytime soon. Even VoIP protocols mostly have issues with fax formats.

Jay G said...

Well here is what I have. It currently has three wires coming out of the cord: red, yellow, and green. If I could rig up something to make this work it would totally rock...

Standard Mischief said...

icebox, "cut and paste", "stock ticker", "writing an email", "posting on a blog"...

ViolentIndifference said...

Red and green should be the wires for you that will work.

Take note, though, that if this doesn't work it could be that the phone isn't working.

I'd be willing to look at it for you. Add a modern cord. I'll send an email to you.

Anonymous said...

"Hell, can you even find a pay phone any more?"

Funny thing is I watched the 1st season of 'Miami Vice' last month and it WAS dated by how many times they used a phone booth. Now 80s shows look like 'Casablanca'
Tom O'B

Bob H said...

Standard Mischief said...
"cut and paste",
We still do cut and paste, just in MS Word!

Bob H said...

"Drop a dime" on someone.
My sisters always had dimes in their penny loafers so they could call home if there was a problem.
$500 bills
Lawn Darts (AKA Jarts)
Home movies (with 8mm or 16mm projector!)

Anonymous said...

Re: phone with "pulse" dialling. I have wireless internet phone service and the cheap bastards provide a phone interface device that does _not_ work with pulse dialling.

bob r

robnrun said...

What I get for having an old house. I still have a rotary phone, and the front still has a little tag saying 'Answer 1 ring' for the party line. Has a solid copper connection, unless you cut that copper, it doesn't matter what the power does, that phone will work. The phone company would love to get rid of it, I flatly refuse. The other phones in the house are wireless and hooked to same number, but that one is on my desk.