I bought my first MP3 player last week. I know it’s old technology. Apple introduced the iPod in 2001 and I’m just getting on-board. Call me a late adopter. I bought my first home computer in 1986 and my first cell phone in 2001. I still don’t have a smartphone. I did, however, finally cut my telephone land line.
I gained some perspective on my personal technology deficiencies while sorting through boxes of old family photographs. In one photo, my grandmother sat with my mother at her feet, listening to the radio on their 1929 Brunswick Panatrope Phonograph with Radio. In its day, the Panatrope was a state-of-the-art home entertainment system. It operated electrically, played all three available record formats, and had a radio (AM).
In 2013, when technology becomes bigger-better-faster with each passing year, I’m astonished by the obstacles that had to be overcome before that Panatrope could sit in my grandmother’s living room.
In the 1920s, most of America didn’t have electricity. There was electricity in big cities, but electrical power companies weren’t interested in investing in the generators and power lines that would electrify rural America. At that time, “rural America” was most of America’s geographical area. Because the rural population was shrinking, electrifying the countryside was too big an investment for power companies. Farmers, too, found that the expense of running power lines across their fields was prohibitive. So, electricity didn’t start to become available to rural America until 1935, when Roosevelt signed the act creating the Rural Electrification Administration. The act provided low-interest loans and other incentives to power companies to encourage them to invest in rural power transmission. My grandmother’s family in Hendersonville, N.C., (down the mountain from Asheville) got electricity earlier than most. So, the Panatrope was a viable purchase for her family. Read More
Originally posted 2013-10-01 13:59:00.