Open Thread

Open Thread Update: Miss Me?


Last week I shared my feelings about a BC (Before Computers) exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York. It rang a bell for some readers who shared some thought provoking, even poignant, comments.

Reader ianne had a comment that was about more than just technology.

“I miss the simplicity of life in general.”


She continues with a moving elegy for some everyday pleasures that aren’t everyday anymore – look for her comment because some will resonate with you as well.

It was surprising to see that I’m not the only one who misses Blockbuster. Reader Mary C. agrees with me, and I have to admire her ‘take no prisoners” approach to her comments about other unwelcome ‘advancements.”

On the other hand, regular commenter CLT offers a different perspective.

“I was just saying to someone today that in my job I can now write an article in an hour that would once have taken me all day and a trip to the library….”


Dr. Powell offers a more pragmatic and entirely correct viewpoint:

“Older technology was better because it was developed to last.”

-Dr. Powell

Lastly thanks to reader Yvonne A. (“84 years old, still working!”) for her long-view attitude and her kind words.

Take a spin through the comments and see what resonates with you – or better still, add your own thoughts.  Miss your top loader washer?  How about  our rapidly shrinking privacy?  Let us know in the comments!

Original column below:

Recently I saw an interesting exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York:  Analog City: NYC B.C.  (Before Computers).

It was an interesting walk down memory lane, and the interactive exhibits really captured the imagination of the younger visitors.  (There was a manual typewriter that the kids absolutely couldn’t get enough of.)

I can’t blame them. I miss the tactile and especially aural aspects of manual typewriters. And if you do, as well, you can put it in your keyboard!  See here.

It’s hard to grasp, for we digital immigrants and for the digital natives, how completely technology has changed our lives and even our frames of reference about time, about privacy, about autonomy.

Old school technology 

It was poignant for me as a journalist to walk through the exhibit and see an actual linotype machine and other examples of old school journalism on display.  It was funny to see the display of how the stock market worked before tech and day trading.  (Why on earth was there a sign forbidding the wearing of straw hats?)

There was even a display of telephones, from the old school ‘candlestick” to the Princess line (Ooh, it comes in colors!!) and beyond. There was one exhibit that was a bit of a gut punch.  An ordinary payphone, like the ones we all used so routinely, in an exhibit like it was the Rosetta Stone.

And speaking of Rosetta Stones, remember….slide rules and adding machines?

I found myself thinking of all the ‘old school’ technology I miss. 

Technology: Hit or Miss

It was a chance to reflect on technology, how it helps us (all the world’s knowledge at your fingertips in a phone!) and how it….doesn’t. Social media has a body count.

I found myself thinking of all the ‘old school’ technology I miss.  I miss old school phones and the privacy they  offered. I miss the satisfying ‘bing!” at the end of a line on a manual typewriter.

I even miss the sounds of earlier technologies, that remind me of, for instance, the innocence and excitement of the early days of the internet. (You, too?Here’s a link to a website of obsolete sounds.)

TV News with Substance

I miss – I’m being real honest here – I miss TV news shows that had a certain degree of decorum. (Hello, David Susskind.)

I miss VCR tapes and Blockbuster, when I could curate my entertainment according to my whims, instead of settling for what some cable company decides. (You try finding Throne of Blood or the Samurai Trilogy now!)

And I really miss technology applications you could buy and own that stayed around for a while without constant iterations/upgrades that make all my other tech out of date. (I have two computers that still run Windows XP, thank you.)

I do like having the ability to record important moments on my phone. I wish the technology was around when my late husband and I ran trivia challenges at an uptown bar! But I don’t like how recording life is becoming a substitute for living it.

But that’s me. What old school technology do you miss? Let us know in the comments!

Virge Randall is Senior Planet’s Managing Editor. She is also a freelance culture reporter who seeks out hidden gems and unsung (or undersung) treasures for Straus Newspapers; her blog “Don’t Get Me Started” puts a quirky new spin on Old School New York City. Send  Open Thread suggestions to


8 responses to “Open Thread Update: Miss Me?

  1. I miss calling the doctor’s office directly and getting someone who actually works in that office and knows me. Centralized appointments are a major step backwards. I actually have to get the pharmacy to call the office to get a refill because no one answers the “refill” prompt. I think they’re trying to get rid of us seasoned citizens.

  2. I miss the simplicity of life in general. Time spent with others inside and outside our houses.
    I miss the ability to go to a grocery store without needing a computer.
    I miss the agility to afford gas just for a Sunday drive .
    I miss being able to live close to family because you can afford to.
    I miss being able to walk around and not worry about threats.
    I miss the wonderful world of Disney.
    I miss being able to just go to a state park or national park for free and enjoy it.

  3. I do like the old devices but I don’t really miss them. I was just saying to someone today that in my job I can now write an article in an hour that would once have taken me all day and a trip to the library. And as I get bored easily I like having a computer (ie phone) in my pocket at all times! I do miss the video shops though. You get a much more varied array of options than you do on a streaming service, and particularly older and classic films.

  4. Yes, Virge:

    Older technology was better because it was developed to last. Remember DOS on your home computer? I loved DOS, the mysterious nature of it. A dark screen; you typed an instruction; the machine obeyed.

    My IBM Selectric — lovely colors, no carriage return, easy font changes, simple to insert envelopes, and you could set a cup of coffee on the machine.

    Pay telephones in public booths: private, sophisticated, easy as pie. One legal monopoly, AT&T. And it all worked. Gosh…

    1. I agree. I miss Blockbuster where you could browse the aisles and pick what you wanted. I miss the pay telephone booths. I hate cell phones where everyone on the street is looking at their phone and not where they are going (as well as for safety). I hate streaming websites that prevent new films from playing in theaters since I was an avid movie goer. Now, you have to pay, pay, pay. Everything is money and the amount of commercials that you are subjected to in TV programs is disruptive.

      1. Oh Indeed! We often long for those things we enjoyed so much.
        But I am glad that a few of us are around and still functioning. Because, when the “Storm” passes,, you might actually need some of the things that we still remember. Very cute article. Thank you!
        From the 84 year old, still working.(

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