To kids born in this century, walking and talking with a smartphone or other small instant sound and sight device is as natural as breathing. Most of them don’t even think about the enormous progress that has occurred in the science of individual communications since I was their age. I marvel about it constantly, and every day brings more amazing ways to see, talk and listen to the world around me.
Movie Memories: As I near my 89th birthday, one of my earliest recollections is attending a movie as a three-year-old with my father. There was music in the theater, but it was performed by a live band. The movie actors’ lips moved, but there was no sound. Whatever they said was spelled out in words at the bottom of the screen. Just a year or two later, the first sounds came from theater screens as Al Jolson sang. Since then, movie viewing has expanded from theater to home TV and further in this century, to the internet. Today, at any time I choose, by keying into YouTube or other free or pay online service, I can watch almost any movie ever produced. Of course, it includes the 85-year-old, “The Jazz Singer”, when Al Jolson introduced talkies.
Further, I can enjoy it from the comfort of my living room on a TV far different from my first bulky one that displayed a seven-inch screen offering only in fuzzy black and white images. Now, a half-century later, the screen is 60 or more inches wide, with full-color and life-like, sharp focus.
I now can see movies and video everywhere, including while seated in an airplane, as well as on a little hand-held device during my morning jog. To a 21st Century-born teenager, all of this is just the way things are today. To someone at my advanced age, each new scientific communications advance is a welcome and enjoyable miracle.
Sound Memories: As a small child, I listened to music with the family in our living room. We sat around a large piece of elegant mahogany furniture, topped by a record player. Then, before it advanced to electric power, every few minutes my father had to wind it up for the next record. Favorites ranged from Enrico Caruso and Ezio Pinza to Ethel Waters and Louis Armstrong. By the mid-20th Century, records had been replaced by tapes, then CDs, DVDs and now digital files. With the continuing advancements in sound and sight entertainment, we can only guess what the next scientific breakthrough will be. While many serious scholars may think this science is not as important as space and medical discoveries, I believe it has also made life more meaningful, as well as infinitely more enjoyable.