The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Lost technologies

The Guardian gave a group of London teenagers five technologies from the distant past to see if they could use them:

1 Phone home… with a rotary dial telephone

They recognise the old phone from movies (and from watching The Sweeney in media studies – I want to go to Mr Rushworth’s media studies classes). Do you have to call the operator first, wonders Jannugan? Is the operator even still there?

But obviously they don’t know their numbers, although Jannugan knows his mother’s ends in 202. Hang on, he does know his landline number, amazingly, for emergencies, and there’s always someone home. So let’s dial it.

This is when the fun begins. Someone knows you have to turn the dial, but how far? They put their fingers in, then dial a teeny bit, then dial back, is that it? It’s hopeless, none of them dials right round to the stopper, then releases before moving on to the next number. And they haven’t taken the handset off the cradle, so they wouldn’t be getting through anyway. Sad, worried parents, not to mention the lonely operator, would remain unrung.

The kids then had to work out how to use a wind-up alarm clock, a radio, an encyclopedia, a Nintendo Game Boy, a turntable, a Sony Walkman, a 35mm camera, pen and paper, and...a map.

Since this group of kids—the college class of 2027—has never known a world without Facebook and whose earliest memories may be the financial crisis of 2008 or Boris Johnson being elected mayor of London, they just don't understand.

Comments (1) -

  • David Harper

    10/21/2019 3:21:38 PM +00:00 |

    The London A-Z map (#10 in the article) was a must-have for anyone living in London when I was a student there in the 1980s.  Call me old-fashioned, but I'd still be happier navigating London with an A-Z than a map on a cellphone.  I also have an abiding affection for Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 maps, although in a nod to technology, I have the OS map app on my phone and iPad, since it gives access to the entire country at 1:50k and 1:25k for just £20 a year.

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