Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"Old" Is a Relative...

...term, or so the cliche finishes.

But sometimes "old" feels like a person...somebody I'm actually related to.

As my children grow, their curiosity seems to grow with them, which can be fun since they want to know what life was like when Stuart and I were young -- what we did, lived through, experienced. They are continually shocked that we didn't have certain things or the option of certain things. Or even the existence of certain things.

And in that way, I feel old.

I began to recollect about VCRs the other day. (For those of you readers who are too young to remember these devices, they were a machine that allowed you to record a show from the TV onto a video cassette. See example here.)

We were chatting about how easily we can watch TV shows and movies that we've either missed on television/in the theaters or previously enjoyed.

Back when I was young, if you missed your favorite show during the week, you had to wait for reruns. And even then it was by luck that you got to see that particular episode. Sometimes, if you were really lucky, you might spot it listed ahead of time in the TV Guide and write yourself a note to remember to watch it. Otherwise, you had to wait until it was syndicated and played at odd hours...likely years later.

But that was life and no one questioned it or worried about it.

Then came VCRs.

The first type was invented by Sony and used a smaller-sized videotape called a Beta. My dad wouldn't buy one of those because, for one, they were prohibitively expensive and, for two, he knew the technology -- though far better than the alternative that followed -- wouldn't catch on.

He was waiting for the "real deal."

And so we waited another year or so for VHS machines to appear on the scene. Good call, Dad.

We didn't own one to begin with, but they were available to rent. (I was trying to remember the actual cost, and it was somewhere in the region of $30 with a large deposit necessary.) My parents would occasionally rent one for the weekend with several movies. In fact, for my 14th birthday they rented one with the movie War Games for my party. And then later, when we had our own machine, they rented Ladyhawke for my 16th birthday party.

The thing about videos was that you had to wait an amazingly long time for a movie to be available. And I guess because of licensing or copyrights, some movies never made it to video. And television shows didn't get released to video for at least another decade.

So we saw the invention of a device able to record our favorite movies and TV shows and from there we saw DVDs...and some bits available online. And now Netflix and the like. We can watch an entire season of an old show that we might never have ever known about "back in the day." We can watch movies we didn't catch in the theaters.

The options are exploding....and we're along for the wild and wonderful ride of technological discoveries.

It's actually kind of exciting to think that I've lived long enough to remember all of it.

Maybe "old" is more of an interesting "relative" than I thought. More on this subject soon.

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