Your first encounter with things that are now commonplace

You know, microwaves and such?

My oldest sister married when I was only five. Her husband had a nice paying job and her house was soon filled with gadgets I had never seen before. This was the early to mid seventies.

First it was the microwave. It was a huge monster of a thing and I think she said it cost around $500. Some time later they got this new fangled thing called a VCR, it was a beta, and again I remember it costing some exorbitant amount of money. They also had one of those satellite dish’s as big as the side of a barn.

I just find it fascinating that not only are these things commonplace now, but they can all be bought very cheaply.

I can remember as far back as, get this… as far back as before DVDs were invented!

There was all this talk of 20 gig capacity, multi layerd multi-sided.

And now we have them and they can just about fit a longish movie in way lower than PC resolution. And at first the players were expensive buggers.

A few years later we have recorders. About as user-friendly as a plastic fireguard.

You mean technology? I was going to talk about my first experience with a homeless person. I’m from a small town in Utah, never had to deal with panhandlers or bums sleeping on the street. When I moved to Washington, that all changed. The first time I encountered a homeless person was when I was 19 and going to a job interview. I didn’t even get a chance to close the door of my car and a woman approached me asking for money. Never having done this, it scared the crap out of me. Damn I’m sheltered. Of course, living in Seattle now, homeless people all over is very commonplace.

Let’s see, I can remember life before the internet…and going to music stores and having all the shelves and racks filled with tapes - not CDs.

We owned the first Coffeemaker of anybody we knew.
Coffee used to be made in percolators on the stovetop.

But Dad worked for Bunn, the firm that makes (made?) restaurant equipment. Restaurants had coffeemakers.

Dad brought home a one-pot model, in the early 70’s.
It was lovely, with copper fittings & guts, but otherwise exactly like the coffeemakers you buy today at K-Mart.

Everybody we knew came over for a cup of coffee. Mom beamed with pride. Kids usually never had coffee, back then, but all of us kids were thereafter weaned on the stuff.

A few years ago, I was in the hospital for a few weeks

(John Astin)
But i’m feeling much better now.
(/John Astin)

On my first trip to the grocery store, I discovered Coke had released the new Fridge Pack, and for a moment I truly feared for my sanity. I had to call home right then for a reality check.

<wife> Hello.
<me> The cokes are different.
<wife> What? Oh, yeah. New boxes, just came out.
<OK. Bye.

It really freaked me out.


I don’t remember our first coffee maker, but I do remember mom using a percolator before we had one.

Another one I remembered after my first post was the computer. My aunt & uncle had one way before it was commonplace in the home, at least any homes I had been in. This was sometime in the late seventies I beleive. As I rmember it wasn’t much good for anything except a game of pong.

Cd’s are a good one too. I had hundreds of 45’s and albums as a kid (even a few 8 tracks :eek: ) Then as a teen I had hundreds of cassette tapes. It was late 90’s before I broke down and started buying cd’s.

My first encounter with the internet was deeply puzzling. I was in my university’s computer lab doing a paper and a friend walked by, pointed to the Netscape icon, and said “that’s how you get into the internet”, then he left.

I opened a browser to the Unversity’s home page and all I could figure was that you were supposed to navigate by clicking on links, so click I did. I clicked for two hours. I honestly thought that the only way to get around was to start somwhere and keep clicking until you found something useful.

My final destination that day was a site, all in Norwegian, for fans of the X-Files. I promptly decided the internet was a fad for computer geeks and it would probably fade away on its own.

I can remember a few.

My first experience with a:

remote control for a TV. I was about 5 or 6 years old (so 1975 or so) and my aunt and uncle had purchased a new TV. I was amazed by the fact that they could change the channels from the couch with that big square calculator-like looking device. Magic!

microwave oven. I was about 7 or 8. My father worked for Sanyo and brought home what looked to me like a supercharged toaster oven, and in fact, put it where our toaster oven resided in the kitchen, and my English Muffin pizzas were never the same. He was so excited. My parents microwaved half the contents of the fridge that night. My mother would not let my sister or me go anywhere near it. In fact, we weren’t even allowed in the kitchen when she used it for the longest time, and we were never allowed to stand next to it while it was on.

computer. I was 11 or 12. My uncle purchased a TI-99 for my sister and me. I loved it, mostly playing games on it or learning BASIC and running silly programs.

cd player. I was 14. I’d heard about them, and thought they were the neatest thing. Then my father bought one for my sister and me. The first CD I purchased was Bruce Springsteen’s Born In The USA. Shiny!

cell phone. I remember seeing a couple of guys in NYC carrying those big old boxy mobile phones and thinking they must have been super rich or important to have phones that they could take anywhere. I was about 17 or 18.
My first personal experience with a mobile phone was a couple years later when my fiance at the time bought a Porsche that had a car phone in it. Not an entirely mobile phone, since it was anchored inside the car. But it was still fun to call people and say “I’m calling from the car!” :wink:

dvd player. A friend of mine had purchased one just a few months after they hit the market. 97ish? He called all his buddies to come over and check it out, raving about the clarity and how cool it was. He had a party, I was completely skeptical until he popped the DVD in (a Die Hard movie, I think.) I became an instant fan and decided I simply must have one. Cost prevented me from owning one until Christmas 2000.

When I was a kid in the 70’s, I was an avid reader of scifi author Robert Heinlein. One of his kid’s books, Between Planets, opens with the main character riding his horse out on the range, when suddenly his personal phone rings.

My sister and I used to talk about what a crazy idea that was. We could accept rocket ships, laser guns or big green scary aliens, but the idea that the guy had a phone he could carry anywhere on his hip was just outrageous. Was he expected to drag a phone line after him everywhere he went? To put this in perspective, all phones at this time had rotary dials. There weren’t cordless home phones, or even phones that dialed with buttons. (I remember thinking that was pretty neat the first time I saw one.)

The phone I carry now has a built in pocketpc. I can surf the web, take handwritten notes, play video games, even shoot pictures and short films. If Heinlein had described his character carrying one of these way back then, I would have said it was ‘pushing the boundaries of believability’ (or whatever the eight year old equivalent of that statement is.) Even on Star Trek, the Tri-corders couldn’t take phone calls.

CDs - must have been around 1984 or so, and my music teacher showed us this new way to play music - not sure of the specifics. But what I do remember is the demo he apparently got in the store when buying the CD/CDplayer - he told us excitedly that you could spread butter and jam on the CD, wipe it clean, and IT WOULD STILL PLAY! Oohhh… we all said…

First cell phone I ever saw was in the early 90’s. It was a bag phone. Sucker was huge! Had a shoulder strap to make it easier to carry around because it was the size of a gym bag.

My first encounter with a digital display watch was about 1973, IIRC. We were vacationing in the Caribbean, me and Mom and Pops Mercotan. On a side trip to Curacao, Pops found this store selling a digital display watch. When you pressed the button, it showed the time in red. Press it again, and you got the date. $500, but Pops snapped it up.

He soon found it to be less than ideal. Sunlight made the display too dim to see, and you needed two hands to operate it, one to wear it on, the other to push the button.

But he did impress his family, neighbors, and business associates.

Ah another great one. Up until I was 10 or 11 we not only had to get up to change channels, we had to use needle nose pliers to turn it because the knob had broken off long before.

My grandparents had a remote long before we did, and like most techie prototypes, that sucker was humongous.

Our first remote controller was back in the 60’s. It was one of those acoustic ones, where you could turn the set on and off with one button, and change channels with the other. A mallet hit a metal bar inside the remote, which was a little bigger than a paperback.

Tapes? How about record albums. I had over 300 of them at one point. And the tapes were likely 8 track tapes, not cassettes.

My mother bought our first color TV a few weeks after the first moon walk in 1969. She was frustated that the news anchors would mention the colors of things during the live coverage of the moon walk and we couldn’t see them because we still had a black and white TV.

Online chat - In 1991 they had hooked up all the high schools in my state with this system where you could talk to student at other schools. There were three special terminals in the library which no one ever used for anything useful as far as I knew. I had calculus first thing in the morning so I’d chat for the half hour before class. I used it to flirt and be a jerk. Most kids used their real names but I was “The Pecos Kid.” My first username.

My first experience with the internet was in the library at the USDA building where I worked during college. It was around 1995. Everyone was talking about how great the World Wide Web was and they kept talking about “pages”. So, I expected to see pages like a book, that flipped like a book. Netscape wasn’t what I expected and I really didn’t think much of it. It could never hold my attention for very long. I too thought it would disappear.

My first experience with any kind of media disc was my dad’s laser disc player. He had me convinced that this was the next big thing. Movie quality pictures and sound at home! I think that thing is still around here somewhere, along with “Star Wars” and “Paint Your Wagon” on laser disc.

Post-it Notes. With a purchase at the University Bookstore in the late seventies I got a bag-stuffer brochure with two sizes of Post-it Notes attached. I still have it. On the outside it says, “At first glance, we admit, it does not look terribly exciting.” On the inside is an introduction to this marvelous new sticky removable note.

Also hand-held calculators. My dad had an electronics business, and so I had the very first four-function calculator at my school, maybe 1971 or so. It was about $100 wholesale.

When I was in high school I went to a friend’s house, and they had a really neat new telephone. You could dial a number by pushing little buttons that made beeping noises instead of having to put your finger in the dial and turn it. I was really impressed.

Sometime after Microwave ovens became affordable, I went into a department store, where you could see a cupcake, in the process of cooking, and rising in the process. Ooooohhhhhhhh.