MESSING around with my replacement state of the art smart phone recently, I reflected as I struggled to get to grips with this supa dupa piece of electronic kit, the contrast with some of the iconic gadgets that we kids had at our disposal back in the 50’s.
Anyway I finally managed to get the phone out of the box and I suddenly remembered what was perhaps the first ‘hi-tech’ present that I ever received. It was an interplanetary communications centre complete with two microphones that enabled me to speak to my space cadet colleagues on Jupiter.
Actually the length of wire provided, meant that conversations were limited to the distance between the living room and the downstairs toilet, but that was an inconsequential detail.
Being an only child, it meant that I would have to play with my new toy on my own if my Dad was unavailable and I was often reduced to annoying our cat Tinker by placing one microphone in his basket and scaring the living bejeezus out of him as he was sleeping.
It had all sorts of plastic knobs that activated flashing lights and buzzers, – the toy, not the cat – and had a little message pad to jot down the latest score between the Martian Redskins and the Uranus Skids, and the whole thing was in a bright red and yellow plastic case with a plastic aerial on top for show. It was all very… well, plasticky.
These were the playthings of their time, stimulating the imagination and with an emphasis on the word toy. Apart from some outsize batteries, they were not gadgets incorporating the very latest in technological advances; moreover they lasted for years and gave endless hours of enjoyment.
Nowadays of course, kids are constantly clamouring for bigger and better, which is an expensive and neverending exercise in updating to the next generation of phone, games consul and computer.
Proper childhood has become defunct and enforces my belief that progress will be our downfall.