I still remember hearing an NPR story last year that stated new generations won’t know what a telephone pole is.  It boggled my mind.  I guess I was still living in some kind of retro bliss with my record player, type writer, and antique books.  The more I learn, the more nervous I become.  Today I’ll attempt to make light of the future by placing a bet – I bet your children haven’t heard these sounds.  Try playing some for them, and see if you can find the generational dividing line.

1.  Type Writer Keys


Type writers were ubiquitous by the 1960’s.  They were in every office, and were the number one method for written communication.  Even calling cards (that’s another thing kids won’t know about) were typed out, first.  After experiencing a friend’s kid trying to use my type writer, I can confidently state they are way different than a keyboard to use.

2.  Dial Tone

But seriously, when was the last time YOU heard a dial tone?  Have you picked up a pay phone, recently?  Have you even SEEN a pay phone, recently? Are they even still in use in prisons?  I used to use them at school when I was a teen, but only see them as novelties anymore.  Most young homes don’t have land lines, and that’s the most likely way one would hear this sound.  What do your kids think when they hear it?

old rotary phone

3.  Dial Up Modem


Do you remember how LONG it would take to get online?  And all those weird noises that were supposed to be the computers talking to each other?  If the machines take over, they’ll talk like that, apparently.  There was no flip of the switch, no opening your laptop and being already connected, and the internet was slow.  If you tell your kids this is the sound of computers talking, how do they react?

4.  Record Static

I’ll bet your kids don’t know much about record players.  Especially that the really fancy ones had a changer so you wouldn’t have to get up and change the record yourself after one side played.  But if you didn’t have one, the player would deliver the static of the needle against the paper center until you got up.  Do you even remember this sound?


5.  Film Projector


This sound (and thing) is so old, it was next to impossible to find a quality image and sound reel to go with it!  I think I’ve seen a reel film video once.  Have you?  I’m very sure your kids haven’t, either.  But the sound of the film going round and round is classic to the point of still being used in some movie clips, today.  Do they recognize it?

Do you think it matters that these sounds are going away?  Should our kids have at least some contact with these things, or some context for understanding them?