They may die of old age, but they die young. — Ben Franklin
By Blue Bronc, a Trail Mix Contributor
As so often happens these years, someone puts out a list of where we are in history and technology. Come September we will read about what the college freshman class knows and what they have never experienced. I just read one of these which was fairly interesting having to do with technology (it is not linked to as it was a chain email). I do enjoy them as they are written in an optimistic manner.
We, Baby Boomers, used to talk about people who were born in the 1800’s (my great-grandmother and others) who were old enough to know where they were when they saw their first aeroplane. Their first knowledge of the radio and their first sighting of an automobile. Now we can tell the kids and grandkids what it was like before television, color television, the computer (outside of Turing and IBM), microcomputers, jet airplane travel, interstate highways. I was going to add books, but millennials like books and possibly newspapers.
Fifty one years in computers, that is me. That much of modern America, Europe, Asia and Australia functions only because of the internet is something which was not fully foreseen twenty years ago, when the Internet was opened for public use outside of corporations and portals. Remember Gopher?
When asked how old I am I often reply with “I was born when Truman was president”. Then I watch their faces and eyes as they, first try to think of the presidents, second is if there really was a Truman, and third, when in the hell he was president. I was born in 1950. Mid-century. Post-WWII. Beginning of Korea. All I knew were WWI veterans, my great-uncles. WWII veterans, my father and uncles. Korean veterans, neighbors. I had a teacher in high school, with his concentration camp tattoo on his arm.
Our telephones were party lines until the 1960’s. Except for a few transistor based radios, everything, including satellites, had vacuum tubes. Nike sites were all around Detroit, just in case you know. Clouds of radioactive debris were tracked and warnings were issued for people to go inside and seal their homes. The Bay of Pigs was not a BBQ party.
The fifties television output was decidedly white and boring. Except, the early and mid-fifties. Live television dramas differed very far from the typical thirty minute sitcoms which are so often made fun of today. Television was just venturing outside, remember vacuum tubes and huge power sucking electronics.
The sixties television output was very weird. Martians, astronauts living with genies, farmers from Manhattan and anti-establishment folk singers, and something so strange very few could understand it, a Sgt Friday sent us anti-drug messages each week. And Goldie Hawn was skinny.
Want to know about politics? Ike was the Republican and he would not be matched Republicanwise until the 1980’s. Kennedy, originally a “friend” of Nixon, was shot and killed by a former Marine who came from Russia. Civil rights was a deadly battle and finally won by a Texas Democrat who boomed the Americans in Vietnam to a fighting army. Johnson took the U.S. into a war in Vietnam (my friends were there, I was supposed to be there). Nixon made SEATO as place worse than hell. He left for home as the first and only president to resign.
And, through all of this, Mad Magazine was the source of knowledge for many of us.