When I was a kid television was something we only saw in the movies. Our entertainment came mainly from the radio.
My parents listened to serials and dramatised stories on the wireless as well as news and sports broadcasts. I remember my mother sitting down with a cup of tea and a biscuit every morning to listen to “Portia Faces Life” or “Dr Paul”. These were never to be missed and the day’s activities were planned around them. The ladies of the neighbourhood would discuss each episode when they met at the store or at the hairdresser. I was a member of the “Argonauts” club and listened every afternoon to see if I had won a prize. My brother was devoted to the “Hopalong Cassidy Show“, and my father would lie in bed listening to the broadcast of the Test cricket coming from England in the wee hours of the morning.
But then, in 1959, television came to Brisbane. Melbourne had had tv since the city hosted the Olympics in 1956.
Television sets were large wooden cabinets with screens, quite impressive pieces of furniture.
Dad drove us into the city to see the sets displayed in the department store windows. Crowds of people stood on the pavement outside those windows marvelling at these wonderful new devices. My father was unsure as to whether these new fangled gizmos would be worth the money one spent on them. My Dad was never one to move quickly on a decision. He waited until our neighbours bought a set and he could actually see one in a house being used by a family. The first telecast of live cricket sold him and, shortly thereafter, we too owned a television set.
We would rush home from school each afternoon to watch “Mickey Mouse Club”, the “Tom and Jerry Show” or “The Lone Ranger”. Our evenings were filled with game shows and variety programs as well as “Gunsmoke”, “Rawhide”, “Maverick”, Seventy-Seven Sunset Strip” and “Perry Mason” all in shiny black and white. At close of programming, I can’t remember if that was eleven o’clock or midnight, the National Anthem would be played and the test pattern would appear and remain in place until the next morning.
Televison changed our world. It brought pictures and stories from all around the world right into our living room. Things that we had had to go to the cinema to see on news reels were now there to be seen on the six o’clock news. We felt more connected and not quite so far away from the rest of the world.
If someone had told me in 1959 that one day I would be able to watch television shows on a phone that I could carry in my pocket, I would have laughed at them.
Doesn’t technology move quickly?