In My Day, when your television broke down, it made the NEWS.
If one of its huge wax-and-paper capacitors let go, it measured on the Richter Scale.
And when one of the massive carbon resistors gave up the ghost, you had to call in the fire brigade.
Plus if a transformer had a meltdown, it would issue acrid white smoke – the living room would be uninhabitable for days.
Owning a TV back then was akin to having a UXB in your house.
But when my telly’s power-supply board failed the other day, it just went “tick”.
The reason for this is micro-electronics. Except that since their introduction in the Seventies, they have now passed through nano-, pico-, femto-, atto- and zepto-electronics. Today, we have YOCTO-electronics.
This means if a circuit board (which now looks like reverse-engineered alien tech) develops a fault, you need a giant magnifying glass with a circular flo-tube – and tools capable of performing a rectal exam on a mosquito – just to work on it.
However, this electronic wizardry does have its compensation – PRICE.
My telly’s replacement cost me HALF what its predecessor cost, just five years ago.
And my other telly – a 42″ plasma I bought eight years ago – cost me the same as a modern SEVENTY-inch plasma.
That’s THREE TIMES the size – I’d need a bigger HOUSE.
Of course, it has always been thus. In the Thirties, you could buy TVs, fridges and vacuum cleaners – but they COST you an arm and a leg.
Even I do not go THAT far back, but I remember the Seventies, when VCRs first came out. THEY cost a fortune then – about three grand sterling. Even the blank tapes cost you a week’s wages.
Furthermore, what you got for your money was a thing that LITERALLY worked on string and baling wire. Plus springs, multi-terminal switches, solenoids – and a timer that was made for a COOKER. They were an electro-mechanical NIGHTMARE. You needed a resident engineer, just to keep them on their feet.
Not only that, but they had NO freeze-frame, slo-mo, swing-search – and they were low-fi mono and recorded just ONE programme.
Finally, if you DID decide to be the First On Your Block to own one, you had maybe one chance in five that within a year, you would still be able to buy TAPES for it.
Remember Philips VCR? Philips VCR-LP? Grundig SVR? Video 2000? 8mm?
Only if you had been lucky enough to purchase a VHS model (or at a pinch, a Sony Betamax) would it still be of any use, two years later.
Then again, when to buy one of THOSE? As the Eighties progressed to the Nineties, they acquired still-frame, multi-speed, swing-search, long-play, hi-fi, stereo and multi-channel, eight-event programming.
The perfect time to grab one was around 2000. By then, you could get one with all the bells and whistles for about a ton (a hundred pounds, sterling) and blank tapes had dropped to a pound each.
But then a few years later – DIGITAL arrived. Tivos, DVRs, PVRs and DVD-Rs made the VCR as redundant as a wind-up gramophone.
And it’s the same with today’s tellies. First came plasmas, then LCDs – now LEDs.
And while the screens have gotten bigger, the prices have gotten smaller.
But at SOME point, you have to decide to JUMP. If you wait for the technology and prices of these big tellies to stabilize – you will end up buying one just before 3D specs with built-in TV and Interweb function hit the market.
It’ll happen, my friend…
[For more on micro-electronics, hit THIS… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dYK96qTYmo]