Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Retro Commercial - Radio Shack Cell Phones - 1990

My husband is now saying, "You need a new phone."  "Why?" "Because I need a new phone." We have gone by the pass-it-down rule for a very long time now, as I am a dinosaur and don't care two figs for phones, never use them except to MAKE A PHONE CALL. So when Bill craves a new toy which he doesn't need (he claims he "needs a better camera" when he never takes pictures, and when asked about it says, "I WILL take pictures if I have a better camera" - this man is a scientist, can you believe it?), I end up getting his leftovers, which is fine with me. I will receive a slightly older phone from him which runs out of charge even when it is almost never used. That's "new" enough for me.

I note from my grandkids that old technology is coming back in a very big way: little cameras that spit out tiny printed photos which are then plastered all over the bedroom wall (shades of the 1950s!), and even record players requiring the vinyl recordings that immediately warp, crack, and develop scratches, skips and indelible dirt and grit that can't be removed, not even by the bizarre "white glue" method I've seen online. 

Records are those "things" we got rid of in the '80s. Bulky, dirt-attracting, the only really good thing about them were the covers. CD art suddenly shrank, and now it's just gone forever and everything is "streaming". But all this has happened at light speed, and it's interesting to see how far we've come in a few short decades, from the technological miracle of a suitcase you lugged around with you to an advanced computer you can hold in the palm of your hand. 

On the other hand. . . some people now collect obsolete technology just as zealously as I collect dolls and trolls. One must have an absorbing hobby in these frightening times, and as with the gadgets, old ideas like the drive-in movie and restaurant car-hop service are coming back into their own.

Though this has never been proven, there are rumours the nerdy high-tech boy at the end of this ad is actually Bill Gates. If not, he should have been. No one dreamed in those innocent times that things were about to get dangerously out of control, and that technology would swallow us all and put the entire world population under constant surveillance. George Orwell would have felt vindicated.

One advantage of the old technology was that it couldn't be hacked, because no one even knew what that term meant back then. Computers were these big slabs of quivering cardboard with multicolored flashing lights on them, sometimes talking to us in a robotic female voice ("working. . . " - always dubbed by Majel Barrett, Gene Roddenberry's wife and Nurse Chapell on the original series. You know the one I mean.) 


But the price! I could not find a cost for this particular "phone", but some early computers ran in the thousands, and people cheerfully paid it, if for no other reason than as a sort of status symbol. I even heard of a dummy called a "cellular phony" which people slung around and "answered" to show how important they were, like the pagers of old. People don't change, even if the technology accelerates past their ability to understand or cope with it. 

AND NOW, (just for fun). . . some artsy-fartsy takes on my screen grabs from the Radio Shack ad!


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