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The times, they are a changin’

iPod Nano

When I saw a TV ad for the new iPod Nano last night, I felt rather old. The iPod Nano can record video, as well as play music and make you a peanut butter sandwich, evidently. It’s smaller than a deck of cards and probably lighter than one too. Yet, all I could think of was my dad’s first home video camera, which looked something like this, though the camera itself wasn’t as fancy.

Old video camera

Yes, my dad lugged a 10-pound VCR with a handle around the Baltimore Science Center taping the animatronic dinosaurs exhibit. The camera itself did not have a video tape holder. You had to plug the camera into the VCR and drag it along with you. The battery life wasn’t that long either. But now, you can just buy a Flip Camera that fits in your pocket to achieve the same goal.

When Dad was recording things with his huge camera, I was probably watching Inspector Gadget, a cartoon broadcast in the 80’s that was sort of a spoof of Get Smart, though if you’d have asked me than I would have said, “What’s Get Smart and why are they copying Inspector Gadget?” On this show, Gadget’s niece Penny had her own gadget, a computer book!

Penny's computer book

The computer book was, as you’d expect from the name, a computer hidden in a book. Penny could do all sorts of spy stuff with the computer book. I sat in front of the computer amazed by such a cool, futuristic piece of technology. Yet, today, everyone has computer books, which are called “laptops.” You could probably do over half the things Penny did with her computer book with an iPhone, because I’m pretty sure there’s an app for that.

I won’t even start about how cool we thought our Atari game system was or how I survived the first 15 years of my life without the Internet. The world has changed so much, and to think, I’ve only been around here for 29 years!

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Tanya • December 3, 2009 at 10:56 am

OMG – don’t get me started on Mrs. Pacman, Galaga, Super Mario Bros & Sonic. I don’t even play video games these days – too fancy schmancy for me with all them realistic graphics and all.


niagara_view • December 3, 2009 at 11:25 am

Don’t even think about sending out one of those emails like “If you remember Diffren’t Strokes, guess what, you’re old”.


fd • December 3, 2009 at 11:38 am

yay! I love Inspector Gadget. I wanted to be Penny. No other cartoon hero for me. For once a young female not wearing dresses of any sort.


H-woman • December 3, 2009 at 11:55 am

Go go gadget legs!

H =P


Sarah Fowler • December 3, 2009 at 12:33 pm

Yeah, and have you thought about the fact that the way you make a living didn’t even exist when you were born? (Mine too.) Craziness.


psychsarah • December 3, 2009 at 12:34 pm

I always love reading your childhood cultural references, as they are mine too! We always watched Inspector Gadget before school. I loved how Penny was the smart one. Thanks for the walk down memory lane :)


Shady • December 3, 2009 at 1:13 pm

I was thinking the other day while texting the friend I was waiting for, what did people do before cell phones. If you were late. Or something happened and you couldn’t make it. Or if plans changed and you wanted to meet at MacDonalds instead of Harveys. How did people do it.


Tiffany • December 3, 2009 at 2:15 pm

OMG – we had that same video camera/vcr contraption! The vcr came in two parts – one for the tape and one for programming. You only carried around that part that held the tape. My dad must have lugged that thing all over the USA! Growing up in Silicon Valley in the ’70s and ’80s, we had gadets before most everyone else. We had a home computer in 1981. I grew up playing video and computer games. Which is rarer for someone of my advanced years (I’m 39.) I do remember my mom taking me to visit my dad at work when I was probably like 2 or 3 and him wheeling out this big tv on a cart. He wanted to show me this cool new thing that was going to change the world. It was Pong. He was right.


Quix • December 3, 2009 at 2:16 pm

I really feel like we live in the future. I mean, I have a device in my purse that can take pictures, take video, make phone calls, send text messages, surf the web, organize my life, remind me when I’m supposed to get up, IM people, play games, and it’s A TWO YEAR OLD MODEL.

I mean, I don’t have a hover car but damned if my car doesn’t run off a battery. Future. Here. It rules.

And I think my parents have the same video camera. They, however, never upgraded, so if they wanted to video something that is what they’d lug around. They also haven’t quite “gotten” dvds and dvrs and still use cassette tapes to record and watch their shows later. /sigh. I try.


Debbi • December 3, 2009 at 3:18 pm

You KNOW I’m going to read every word of a post with a Dylan title. Heh. I might be the only person my age whose has been video camera-less her entire life. Unless you count my old Canon digital camera that could record 30-second clips.


Donna • December 3, 2009 at 4:16 pm

Hah! Wait ’til you’ve been around for 64 years! I really don’t know how I survived without the internet, etc., etc., etc. The future is not here, it’s still coming, believe me. :-)


MB • December 3, 2009 at 4:37 pm

I remember how cool I thought I was when I got my first yellow Walkman. It’s amazing how much technology we have now when we only had 3 tv channels, no cell phones, no ATMs and no computers 30 years ago. What will we have 30 years from now?

Aren’t we all supposed to have flying cars like the Jetsons by now though?


Ro • December 3, 2009 at 8:39 pm


The walkman! Haven’t heard that in ages!! LOL!!

I still want & waiting on my flying car!


Kari • December 3, 2009 at 8:45 pm

Remember Jim that I came to BlogIndiana with? He has the Inspector Gadget theme as a ringtone on his phone. Wish I could find it for mine!


Miz • December 4, 2009 at 5:40 am

and Im even older than you are :)

I swear Im falling more and more technology behind by the moment.


I prefer the old days :) tapes and landlines


K • December 4, 2009 at 7:23 am

Hey, I don’t have a laptop (*sniff*)!

A few years ago I was reading a biography of Douglas Adams which made the point that the HitchHiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is now pretty much a reality – and that was before iPhones, so they were talking about WAP (remember WAP?)

I’m not sure you’d be able to find a wireless connection on Betelgeuse III just yet, though it’s probably only a matter of time.

We still have an Amiga and an Amstrad CPC at home, and my husband has ambitions to find a BBC-B micro. Old tech needs love too…


Amy Dicks • December 4, 2009 at 11:44 am

We still have one of thos 10 lb video recorders, we used it last month, LOL!!!


Debbi S. • December 4, 2009 at 1:42 pm

I loved Atari. My kids play Pitfall on the Wii and it’s NOTHING compared to the Pitfall I know and love. I rocked that thing. I can’t even begin to play this version.

My 7 year old and I were cuddling in bed when he looked at my ceiling fan and asked when we put that on the ceiling. I told him about 1997. He was surprised and answered “They had ceiling fans back then!” Yes, wayyyyyy back then.


PurpleGirl • December 6, 2009 at 7:19 am

Isn’t it crazy? I mean, we remember when the Internet wasn’t a household thing, and when only very well-to-do people had computers. And now, how lost would we feel without these boxes of circuits?

I loved Inspector Gadget, but I loved to watch Get Smart on Nick at Nite, too! And my favorite cartoon ever was DANGER MOUSE. :)


Ke • December 7, 2009 at 12:40 pm

As a Kid, we didn’t any of these box of tricks

we use to climb trees, swim in the local lake, play in the fresh air, we didn’t have TV but we had great fun.

Tom & Jerry was my favorit cartoons, I can still remember GAS STREET LIGHTING, now that’s what you call Ooooooold.

Any body got a spare flying car? I got to get me one before I die.


Ke • December 7, 2009 at 12:41 pm

As a Kid, we didn’t any of these box of tricks

we use to climb trees, swim in the local lake, play in the fresh air, we didn’t have TV but we had great fun.

Tom & Jerry was my favorit cartoons, I can still remember GAS STREET LIGHTING, now that’s what you call Ooooooold.

Any body got a spare flying car? I got to get me one before I die.


Mom Taxi Julie • December 9, 2009 at 4:28 pm

And the sad part is that you are about 6 years younger than me lol. Our family was always the last to get all the new technology when I was a kid so we never got the video camera. My MIL on the other hand has one up from the one you posted. She’s still saving it because you know, it cost over $1000. Too bad it doesn’t work. Might make a good boat anchor though.


Johanna • January 17, 2010 at 1:50 pm

@Shady – They didn’t! If you were late you were late and there was no changing of any plans. You stuck to what you had agreed, come rain or shine! :-)


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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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