Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Census meme - with technology

(Cross posted from my Live Journal page)

1961 - living in Droylsden, Manchester with my parents and big brother. I was five when the census happened. We had a telephone, which was on a party line with someone a hundred yards away. A black and white TV which only got BBC (and on which all the neighbours had watched the Coronation). A mains radio and a substantial Pye transistor portable. For transport we had a Hillman Husky which went with my father's job as a commercial traveller. Out in the big wide world, Yuri Gagarin would shortly make his first flight, and it would be two years before the first communication satellite relayed TV pictures from another continent.

1971 - we'd moved out to High Lane in Cheshire, and I was at Stockport Grammar School. We now had a telephone of our own, with an extension in my parent;s bedroom. When we first moved there in 1965 the phones didn't have dials: you lifted the receiver, pressed a button and waited for an operator to connect you. To call home you had to dial 100 for the operator and get connected manually. By 1971 we had dials, and it was around that time that we got an STD code so we could be direct-dialled from other parts of the country. The TV was still black and white, but bigger, and got BBC2 and ITV. We had a Marconi mono record player and a lot of LPs, mostly belonging to my blues- and jazz-mad brother, though we all had a fair number. My father had a car of some sort (we had an Austin Maxi by the time I went to Durham in 1973) and my brother had one of a succession of bangers (I think it was the Ford Popular at that point).

1981 - Married now, and living in a rented flat in Bromley, Kent. Hilary was living with her parents in Edinburgh and studying at the RSAMD while I stayed in London working for the Inland Revenue (programming ICL mainframes in COBOL on one-line-at-a-time printer terminals). (At this stage we were still expecting that the IR would transfer me to Cumbernauld, and round about census time we bought a bungalow in Stirling. The transfer fell through but we kept the house and I got a job later that year with Clydesdale Bank in Glasgow.) The flat had a black and white TV, and we had a stereo (not very hi-fi) and my by now large record collection. Also a cassette recorder and some tapes. A transistor radio completed the entrtainment suite. We had a phone, on which I used to get calls in the middle of the night from a dopey-sounding woman wanting to know if Ricky was there and who seemed incapable of handling the concept of "wrong number". No car.

1991 - Still married, but now with a daughter and living in Edinburgh in a Victorian end terrace. By this time I had learned to drive, and we had a car. At this time it was a cream-coloured Citroen 2CV which we all rather fell in love with. I was working for Bank of Scotland as an IT capacity planner, and studying part-time for an MBA at Edinburgh University. We had a colour television (not very large) with a video recorder and a fairly decent hi-fi, with a cassette deck, a tuner, a turntable and (state of the art) a CD player. We even had a modest collection of CDs to play on it, mostly classical. We had a telephone with an extension upstairs. No computers yet though.

2001 - Same house, wife, daughter, but now with a son too. Still working for Bank of Scotland though our jobs had just been outsourced to Xansa (formerly F International). Now I was back programming (I'd spent most of 1999 testing programs ready for the year 2000 - we did actually find a couple of faults so it wasn't all a waste of time). Not long after the census Xansa asked for volunteers to go and work in India for a bit, so I ended up doing that from Oct 2001 to Feb 2002. Still programming mainframes, now IBM ones, in COBOL and good old-fashioned Assembler for which I discovered I had an aptitude. Hilary and I had mobile phones now as well as our home one: I also had a work mobile because I was on call sometimes. I had a work laptop I used when I was on call to dial in via the phone line, so needed the mobile to be able to talk to anyone while I was working. I'm not sure what cars we had: our main car would have been a largeish Citroen, eithe a BX estate or an XM estate, and I think we still had the 2CV as a second car, though that eventually was replaced with a Saxo. (The 2CV was converted into a racing car: we all went to see it in action at Knockhill stadium!) And we had a computer: 3.25" floppies and not much hard drive, running Windows and with an Internet connection via the phone line.

2011 - Same house, same personnel. Cars now a Picasso and a Hyundai (each with radio/CD player)i. Fibre-optic cable bringing many TV channels to our flat- screen TV, as well as telephone service and high-speed broadband. Each family member has a laptop (plus my elderly work one) and connect to the internet via a wi-fi router. We all have mobiles (3 of us have iPhones). All except me have iPods. My son has a PS/3 games console and an old TV in his room, along with a DVD player. The TV has a hard-disk DVD recorder, the hi-fi has a twin-CD recorder/player and a minidisk recorder. Umpteen CD and minidisk Walkmans lurk in corners. There is a tape/CD/minidisk/radio system in the kitchen. We also have a flat in Ballater which contains a TV and DVD player as well as a CD player and wee speakers.

(The downside of all this connectivity was shown during my typing this post when I got a call from work, had to phone a guy in India on my work mobile, try to log in with my work laptop only to have it crash on me (I know what's up with it but can't fix it myself). So I'll need to go into the office tomorrow to do some work. At least I'll get paid.)

Thanks to Maggie for the meme.


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