Watching Television when There’s No TV Around

You’ve heard the story before: “My daughter has a toy laptop computer that has more computing power than my business one had ten years ago, she can use my own computer better than I can, and she’s only three and a half years old.” I’ve coined a new word for those of us who grew up before the age of computers; Technosaur. Back in the day when I was just a sprout, there were no blackberries, ipods, personal computers, cell phones, video games, CD’s, satellite TV, and on-board navigation systems. My grandparents talked about only having a radio and a record player. The TV sets were black and white and filled with things called vacuum tubes. When the set started acting funny, you opened up the back and looked for one of the tubes that was darker than the others, just like a burned out light bulb. Then you removed the thing and took it down to your local Seven-!! and put it on a tube tester. If it tested bad, then you bought a new one from the cabinet that the tester machine sat on. When our neighbors got the first color television on the block we all gathered around and marveled at the blue sky and green grass on Bonanza like we had never seen such things before. For those of us who couldn’t afford color, you sent away for a cheap piece of colored plastic that fit over the front of the TV set. The colors were all wrong, but at least you HAD color.

The radios in the house were all tube type, just like the TV’s. Portable transistor radios were small and tinny and most of them just got AM. The first job I had required the use of an adding machine. There were no calculators. It was electric, but you couldn’t really do any kind of math on it, just add and subtract. An old manual typewriter handled all of your correspondence and some of your homework. Research was done at the library using books and microfiche and the teachers used a roller thingie with purple ink to make copies. Telephones came with dialers that you had to stick your fingers into instead of buttons. A teenager the other day told me that he had never seen a vinyl record and it’s hard to find tapes for my eight-track any more.

Now you can purchase your favorite television show from iTunes and watch it on your computer monitor or transfer it to your video iTunes with its 2.5 inch screen and watch it anywhere. You can get previews and recaps on your Verizon Wireless VCAST phone and scores of other videos on ABC.com. Or, you can get the entire season of one of your favorite shows delivered right to your door from Blockbuster or Netflix and watch it on a portable CD player in your minivan. You can also be the first on your block to view a new TV program with these mobile devices. iTunes, for example, lets you down load some pilots days before they air on regular television. Subscribers to Verizon’s VCAST service can choose from some 300 clips to watch on their cell phones on any given day. CBS has signed on with Google to offer downloads of four series and Yahoo has also streamed several full episodes of series from CBS. NBC and ABC have also followed suit with downloads available on iTunes. The networks see the new portable video revolution as a potential way to get back some of the customers that it has lost to cable, but there are cautions. There is concern about the quality; how does the picture look on your phone? There is also the question of how the people who produce the content get paid. Once all of the excitement wears off about these new products, most people will still watch their TV on the big screen in their living rooms. After all, to a Technosaur, the question is: do we really NEED all of this stuff?

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