Did you have TV when you were a kid?


As we drove to school yesterday, the 11-year-old piped up from the backseat: “Did you have TV when you were a kid?”

Wow, it was an interesting conversation that followed. You don’t really think about how pyrotechnically technology has exploded in a single generation until you start telling your child what life was like 40 years ago.

Yes, we had TV. But it was black and white. If I remember rightly, we were one of the first houses in the street to get a colour tellie. Oooo-er, very posh.

Then I bombarded the startled child with all the things we DIDN’T have when I was a kid. There were no computers, there were no mobile phones, there were no DVD or CD players (and they’re almost obsolete now), you posted letters not Instagram shots, there were no microwave ovens, there were no iPads, there was no internet …

It kinda freaks me out that those things weren’t part of my life. HOW can there have been no computers? Does not compute.


I mentioned it to a friend over drinks last night and she raced merrily down her own memory lane about how if you wanted to know the answer to something you didn’t Google it, you looked it up in an encyclopedia.

Everything you needed to know about the world fitted into those slim volumes.

It’s pretty mind-blowing when you think about it.

I still don’t quite understand how you found someone in a crowd or at an event before mobile phones were invented. It must have been sooooo frustrating.

My mum reckons I relied on being weirdly psychic to find her when she disappeared down consumer rabbit holes at Garden City. All I remember is the looooong waits beside the car for her to return, usually around 45 minutes after she said she would.

Mum does love her retail therapy. Some things never change.

I remember getting the first video cassette player in our street too … I was desperate to tape my favourite Countdown clips, so my grandmother handed me $800 in cash to buy one. My mind boggles when I think about how much moolah that must have been back then. My nan really loved me, bless her, I was spoilt rotten.

Video players were so rare way back then that there was only one video rental store in the whole of Newcastle, in Mayfield of all places.


Long after school drop-off, I was still thinking about it all. It make me feel like quite the antique. I mean, I was born the year man walked on the moon. That’s the 60s … the 60s!!!!

Nope, still can’t quite get my head around it.

Fortunately, I do (sort of) have my head around the internet. So I’m not a total fossil. But this digital world is so scary and new. It’s such uncharted territory. How do we help our kids negotiate it when our origins are so technologically humble?

We were born in an era where sending love letters was still a thing. I miss love letters, they were divine.

Our kids are growing up in an era where some countries are no longer teaching handwriting in schools.

I’m sure that makes students dab hands with a key pad, but you can’t look back fondly on a romantic text message you were sent in your 20s.

And if I read another scary story about how internet porn is mangling teen boys’ brains and lead them to abuse teen girls I think I might sob.

Sometimes I wonder if those black and white TV days weren’t so bad after all.

Song of the day: That 1968 classic from Simon & Garfunkel, “Mrs Robinson”

6 thoughts on “Did you have TV when you were a kid?

  1. Unfortunately I do “get” TV. Wish I didn’t, as it might mean I would achieve more! But I’m addicted to a couple of TV dramas each week and usually find some doco that I “need” to watch. Only just parted with our video recorder and video cassettes a couple of years ago. I can’t record things because I haven’t updated to the new technology and it’s just not a priority right now. My mother rented us a video cassette recorder in 1985 for the Live Aid concert… I just HAD to capture George Michael on tape.

  2. It is worth thinking that the Internet actually did exist, in its earliest form, when you were born. There were bits of it in London by 1973. Most of what we know now is “the web”, which is from the late 80s. In the early 90s your “friend over drinks” and I were travelling in the USA and visited college computer science departments to get “on the Internet”. Most of them thought it was really cool this Italian and Brit asking if we could use their vt100 terminal… Those were the days!

    • Ah, I should have said “didn’t exist in Ashbury Street, Adamstown Heights.” It must have been amazing to fiddle on computers way back then and imagine their potential

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