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Obsolete Skills

29 posts in this topic

I can probably do waaaay more of these than the average 20 year old can. We were a really "low-tech" family until I was in high school. All my papers that were required to be typed, until then, were done on a type writer, I didn't have my first CD player until my 8th grade graduation, and the only cassette player in the house was my dad's boom box, etc.

Actually, our first family computer was a hand me down junker from an old school that was entirely DOS run, most people my age never used a computer without a mouse, ever :unsure:

Reading this site reminds me a lot of how different, technologically speaking, my childhood was from that of most people my age!

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It's funny about computers. My son had an Atari 800 and did some modifications and was an early hacker. When he was 14 he asked me to drive him to Radio Shack to buy some 'stuff' and then he made his own auto dialer. Our house was raided by the US Secret Service (they had a search warrant) and his computer, the dialer, the printer and all print outs were taken and never returned. It is funny now but it wasn't back then. He never had another computer until he got to college and then had to use the college computer. He is now an exec with a major computer company.

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Omgosh. Why did it alert the Secret Service? When was this?

The only ones on that list I don't know is shorthand and how to use a slide rule. I've never actually used a dictaphone, but I do know how because my mom used to have one. I still have a turntable/record player stereo and my roomboxes I'm making are hollowed out speakers from an old 8-track stereo that my parents had. I live in the boonies of Pennsylvania so we didn't get touch tone phone service until the 90s, before then it was the trusty old rotary. When I got my turntable, my neice and nephew were so intrigued by it. Everytime they came they had to have it on.

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this should probably be in the chit chat section but im gonna comment anyway. lol My grandma has a rotary in her basement and my little sister was so confused by it! It was hilarious...

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He hacked into MCI and that kind of hacking falls under the pervue of the Secret Service. The good news was he never used the info he obtained so they let him off the hook. Needless to say it scared the *&%$ out of him and us too. He was a local hero to the neighborhood kids until we put a stop to that!

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WoW i still know lots of these and i am 19.

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What can you add? How about

• Changing spark plugs & oil in your car. (I was pretty handy in that department)

• Sending messages via the telex machine

• Mimeographing copies -- or even worse, the gelatin/carbon transfer (I've forgotten what it was called)

• Party lines

• Operators placing calls (our home phone was 684-M, a 2-party line. I was about 10 years old before we switched to 7-digit numbers)

• air letter forms, the tissue thin blue paper ... back in the 50s, I could send a letter to my cousin in England and have a response in 4 days.

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I never used a dictaphone, nor an 8-track. Don't even for sure know what an 8 track IS! :lol:

I scanned the A-Z list...it's amazing how many of the "obsolete skills" are computer/tech related! We still have a "record player", and for a long time (lost it when our house flooded) had a record player that played 78 rpm records. And yes, I do know how to change the needles on both. We resisted buying a cassette player for a really long time....and then resisted buying a cassette player until only a few years ago (skipped right past the 8 track thing, I guess...)

My first computer was a Tandy with "real" floppy disks, the 5-1/4 kind, so I know about those...

and I still have a typewriter that has cartridges where you have to put one in to "change the font", and I have a supply of eraser tapes for it. Don't know if any of that works anymore..I'm going to guess they're all pretty dried out by now.

I got my first real job -- which I turned into a 30 year career -- because I knew how to change the ribbon (and ball) on an IBM typewriter, and my boss didn't! :)

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Even though I don't have the speed anymore, I still know shorthand, for years I recorded our board meetings in shorthand. There are still times that my boss will dictate a letter to me, thankfully he pauses alot.

When I first went to work, our word processor (notice not computer) was recorded on tape.

We still have an old stero system and DGDs think the records and albums we have are a hoot and did not know what they were till we showed them.

DH is a darn good shade tree mechanic, but with the computerized systems now feels like there is not much he can do to the modern cars.

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I looked at the whole A-Z list. I have never heard of some of the things on it. I work on old cars, so those skills I have. I have a manual typewriter in the closet that I still use. I can write in shorthand. I have old cameras. My parents have 78 rpm records. I remember sewing clothes from the woolly mamath that hubby brought home and have a buffalo hide waiting to be made into a coat now. I have an 8mm projecter and reels of film. I have a lot of that stuff still. Some of it is amusing - like general conversation and driving a car.

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About 1973 the government agency I worked for bought a fleet of cars with column shifts (got them cheap). The cars were seldom used and it was found out that the young people (at that time) didn't know how to use a column shift!

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Ancient and time honored skills are all but lost.

My stereo has an excellent turntable (Bang & Olufsen) as part of it. It also has a cassette deck and a 200 disk CD changer. I actually miss the old Reel to Reel tape decks.

I am a fair "Driveway Garage" mechanic on my 2 BMWs Oil changes, spark plugs brakes no problem I even venture into the instrument panel...Odometer gears parts are inexpensive labor isnt.

Tools I still know how to use hand tools for woodworking. My grandfather would be proud. My chisels are sharp enough to shave with. My hand planes are so well tuned I can peel off a 3' shaving in one complete piece (one of the local Comm Coll instructors had to try the same plane for himself.

My toy trains...I can operate almost every accessory Lionel ever made. I can fix almost everything if not know who to call on to do it for me. I even will wire up a display usiong 1920s and 1930s electrical gear just to prove it can be done....seperate transformer circuit breaker and rheostat (speed control) I will though use more modern circuit breakers from the 60s as they are reliable and I can calibrate them to open at the correct overload.

Computers? I assemble my own from components so I get the puter I want at a price I am willing to pay.

Ed

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I didn't notice sewing machine maintenance (changing needles & belts, adjusting tension, winding bobbins, etc) or dialing a rotary phone without the rotary dial (flipping the receiver cradle), sewing with awl & aglet, threading different types of hand-sewing needles, making your own marbles & other toys...

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I know shorthand - 2 versions and worked with it. I have most of those skills listed. But then I've been around for centuries it seems! Funny how memories come flooding back. I learned to type on an old Underwood that my brother had. He started teaching me how to type when I was 12..... I'm 67 now so that is a long time ago! I typed on manuals until the 60's and computers were not brought into most offices until the late 70's early 80's.....at least not in the offices that I worked at. They were very expensive at the time and most people didn't think they would last...... LOL

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Shhhhh forgot! Unitl I was 10 or 11, we had a crank telephone! In Maine!

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I remember quite a few of those.

I didn't see switchboard operator - I used to operate the switchboard when I worked at Addressograph Multigraph/Bruning (now defunct as well) back in the late 70's. All those pesky cords to plug in :groucho: :p Remember when you called a company and actually got a "live" person, not a recording?? :w00t: I also operated the telex machine and one of the early facsimile machines that you had to put the phone receiver into the machine to send the fax. All useless skills nowadays..sigh

Remember the TV repairman coming to our house with his giant "suitcase" to test/replace the TV tubes too. Anyone else remember test patterns on the "boob tube"...my brother and I used to stare at the "Indian head pattern" early on Sunday mornings waiting for Flash Gordon to come on :lol:

Boy, I'm feeling pretty OLD right now...I better go lay down

Chris

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I too was a switchboard operator for Carnation Research Labs back in the 60's! I loved it! All those cords and things! It was fun. And telex machines, mimeograph machines, and the copy machines with liquid in the trays and all of the copies turned brown within a month?! And if you got the liquid on your clothing, holes! Remember the papers you used to clip around your cuffs to keep them clean of ink and stuff? How fun were they!

And I also remember the test patterns on the TV when the TV was on but no stations were available or on. We were glued to the TV in the 50's! LOL Black and white...... We saw Kennedy's killing and the murder of his so-called killer. TV was the thing back then. Now it's just ho hum! This is why we don't have it anymore!

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My first job was for General Telephone as a long distance operator. It was on a cord board and I made a game of getting all eight cord pairs up and then the supervisor would have me patch over to the board next to me. I never got sixteen pairs up but I tried. We had to memorize all the area codes and which "tandem" they went in, 1T, etc. I still remember all this. The coin phones were a pain because people would try to put in the wrong amount for overtime. Quarters went bong, dimes bing bing and nickles bing. Your three minutes are up, signal when through we said. Most people did but we tried to track down those who didn't. They offered me supervisor at 18 but I didn't want it because they didn't work the boards. It was the most fun job I ever had. This was in 1955.

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I still have 2 tube radios. My mothers zenith portable from 1948 or 49 AM only beautiful brown faux alligator leather and a 1956 or so Zenith TransOceanic shortwave receiver (T-600). I have learned to take care of these wonderful old radios they have a character all their own. You really had to tune them to the station and even rotate the loop antenna on the TO ro get the best reception on AM.

I have a netwoprk of people who also love the oldies but goodies.

Ed

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That reminds me of another obsolete skill/ item of arcane knowledge concerning the old radios with tubes. In highschool I had an elderly beige Bakelight tube "portable" radio in my room with an antenna wire (the loop was long gone) and I used to love to listen to John Narz on the old Nashville station; but in order to get reception I had to hold one end of the wire between my fingers.

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I still listen to mom's old leather covered zenith from 49. I think it has a wave magnet loop antenna contained within the flip up face. It has incredible reception and a wonderful sound

Ed

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I also worked with an Addressograph and a mimeograph in past years. What fun! I still have my record player which has a built in 8-track and by the use of an adaptor which I have, you can also play cassette tapes on it. It also has a radio. Mint condition. I have scads of records and really enjoy playing my Christmas music on it. Some of my records are real antiques with music by Frank Sinantra, Elvis, the Mama's and Papas, etc.,e tc. And for a while I was really hooked on ABBA. Oh yes, and "Hooked On" musical records and tapes were my favorites. Hooked on Classics, Hooked on Jazz, etc., etc., they all found their way to my house. And exercise records as well......Jane Fondle's first exercise record to be exact, plus many more. I guess we all go through different phases! Some times I wish we could go back to the older things, they worked and worked like the energizer bunny and didn't conk out on you the way our newer models do.

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I remember sewing clothes from the woolly mamath that hubby brought home and have a buffalo hide waiting to be made into a coat now.

lol

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