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U3A Writing: TV Reflections

Ralph Thomas reflects on the great strides taken by the communications-entertainment industry.

In this modern era when we can relax in a luxurious Harvey Norman recliner lounge and watch a slim line, flat screen, wide screen, full H.D., LED, LCD, 3D- view, plasma television purchased from Retravision, watching televised live broadcasts of Rugby in New Zealand, football from the MCG, cricket tests from Old Trafford in England, or the Olympics from China, one cannot help but reflect on the great strides taken in the communication/entertainment industry over the last century.

Earlier times saw the keen hobbyist hunched over his own manufactured crystal set adjusting the cat’s whisker to the crystal to receive spasmodic and intermittent transmissions sometimes audible through the headphones. This being the fore-runner to the valve radio, sometimes fitted with six valves, (some being the size of a ten-ounce sauce bottle) and powered usually by two dry batteries and a six volt wet battery - the type removed from the family car when the usual wireless battery went flat. These sets usually gave satisfactory reception except for the occasional thump with the fist if they faltered.

The size of valves lessening gave rise to the mantel radio – a Bakelite unit which resided neatly on many a mantelpiece and there were not many homes without one of these mains powered units, be it a Healing, HMV, AWA etc.

The discovery and manufacture of transistors meant the further shrinking of wireless units with the advent of portable radios, some being down to the size of a packet of twenty cigarettes, powered by usually two small batteries.

Nowadays we have hand held video games, docking stations, exotic TVs, MP3s, X Boxes, CDs, DVDs, I-Pods, Blueray, USB sticks, video players and computers which children learn from early in life and many other electronic gadgets not fully understood. The gem in the crown of course is the MOBILE PHONE – not much bigger than a credit card which one can use to take photos, listen to music, talk overseas, retrieve messages, and a multitude of other functions – but cannot make a cup of tea. But I daresay someone is working on that!

The mind boggles to think what could happen in the next century!

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