It is my father’s 70th birthday this month . . . a milestone to celebrate, and an era through which communication and entertainment tools have evolved in leaps and gigabytes.
My rather astute dad hasn’t always been the first to line up at the electronic goods counter, but he has been open to embracing new technologies and developments over the years.
New beginnings on the switchboard
The son of a Post Master dad grew up watching ledgers fill with correspondence and telegrams being transcribed. As a new groom and father, he and my mum worked a number of country town telephone exchanges, manually connected callers to each other through a main switchboard. The original host server!
When he hit the mortgage and kids stage he was always ding, ding, dinging away at his trusty Olivetti typewriter, cursing as he stained his fingers during a typing ribbon or carbon paper change.
I do recall dad listening to lectures recorded on a small cassette recorder, very Maxwell Smart. Unfortunately, he never located a shoe phone to complete the picture. From here dad quickly progressed to the Sony walkman, which we promptly commandeered!
The dawning of the computer in Australian households saw the dawning of research for my father as he took his time selecting the Holy Grail…the first family computer.
Oh the excitement of taking the escalator in Myer. The euphoria of the mystical preaching of the young tech-head sharing with us the hidden delights of the 8 bit home computer. The fever pitch as we were guided to the Commodore 64. The endless possibilities which hovered before my father and his Tetris idolising kids. A whopping 64 kilobytes of RAM on offer! Our delight knew no bounds. Or so we thought.
It was around this time my dad may have (after much pleading) sanctioned personal entertainment units for our own bedrooms. Nothing discreet about these Sansui numbers . . . heck no, they were esky sized stereos’ featuring record AND cassette players if you don’t hardly mind! We kids set to work making up for lost time recording road trip tape mixed tapes.
Keeping up with the Jones’s
In the lounge room dad’s diligent research into the superior product had paid off, and the beta-cam video player and recorder had been bypassed wisely for the VHS video player. That, and the answering machine attached to the home phone (although we still hadn’t gone cordless) had us keeping up with the Jones’s. Or perhaps just the Jones’s country cousins. Because by this time everyone had a portable video camera and dad point blank refused to join the club.
Dad dabbled in communications at every level. Years of community radio hosting had him displaying his hand at lining up ads on cartridges, tracks from his personal LP selection while chatting to special guests and community folk on an array of topics. These were the pre-podcasting days!
Having spent a lot of time in the outback I’d venture to say dad knows a lot more about technology and how it works across this wide brown land than I do, but also how to get along without it.
Fast forward to 2013
These days my dad is skyping and smart-phoning, blogging and bookmarking links to read later with the best of us. He’s got a got a filing cabinet full of patch cords, floppy disks, reel to reels, cassettes, records, usb sticks and cloud back-up paraphernalia to tell the tale.
So here’s to 70 years of milestones dad, to sitting back and watching the fads, and stepping forward and embracing the change, and paving the way for your copywriting and content creating daughter!