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Shocking events that let you know you're old

 

Providence Journal
09.17.2003

logoI remember being shocked when typewriters began showing up in antique stores.

It's gotten worse.

You can now find early computers there - or in the antiques section of Web sites like Ebay.

It got me thinking about a new definition of old.

Old doesn't just apply to those who can remember life before airplanes or television.

You qualify if things you once considered cutting-edge technology are now antiques. Or when the latest trends you swear you embraced just yesterday are things the MTV generation never heard of.

So, today, a list.

You know you're getting up there if you remember when:

* Your computer's ready-mode was a black screen with a single curser.

* Apple was bigger than Windows.

* Or should I say PCs, since for a while, there was no such thing as Windows.

* There was just "DOS."

* And they were called microcomputers instead of PCs.

* Contrary to free-market theory, your phone choices and bills were much easier because AT&T was a good old-fashioned monopoly.

* There was this amazing new video game called "Pong."

* And you thought it had the most advanced graphics imaginable.

* AOL was just another start-up online service that could easily have lost out to rivals called Compuserve and Prodigy.

* A 20-something guy named Dell came up with the nutty idea of selling computers by mail.

* Jane Fonda went from sex symbol, to feminist activist, to dutiful wife of a powerful man, to obscurity.

* And that powerful man was known not as Ted Turner founder of CNN - but "Blackbeard Among the Bluebloods" for winning the America's Cup while scandalizing Newport society with raucus behavior.

* And there was no question U.S. sailors would of course win the Cup - forever.

* It was called VD instead of an STD.

* The first true laptop computer was a Radio Shack TRS-80.

* And if you were hip, you referred to it affectionately as a TRASH-80.

* Burning a CD was the act of a pyromaniac.

* Sean Connery was Pierce Brosnan.

* The new walkaround phone that gave you astonishing mobility was a cordless one you could take around the house.

* And it got better reception than the one you can now take all over the country.

* Only wives got alimony.

* Steve Jobs ran Apple. I mean, the first time.

* There was a guy on 60 Minutes named Mike Wallace who was so old you figured he'd retire at the latest by 1990.

* The Mideast was simpler because Iran was run by a dictator called The Shah, who wanted power rather than Jihad.

* Mail was something you wrote on a piece of paper and put into a stamped envelope.

* And you didn't get 110 unsolicited pieces of it every morning promising to enhance your anatomical assets.

* No normal person had speakers on their computer.

* The diners at the next restaurant table were smoking cigarettes and you barely noticed.

* The only thing you knew about Robin Williams was he played a weird alien named "Mork" on television.

* A 1-gig hard drive seemed as big as a warehouse. (Today, most are 40-times that.)

* An 8-track tape the size of a paperback book was an advanced concept in compact music recording.

* Everyone knew what an LP was.

And now the final test of whether you're getting up there:

* Even though there are plenty of LPs in antiques stores, you still have 400 in your attic, because deep down, you still think the format will come back.

Mark Patinkin