Thursday, March 24, 2011


While watching the BBC documentary "Electric Dreams" (it's about a family that lives without 21st-century devices for a month), I was reminded of the first time I was introduced to various 20th-century gadgets. In 1982, thinking that it would be something that I'd enjoy being creative with, my mother bought me a tape recorder.

I had went to bed while she was out buying it, but woke up the next morning eager to try it out. I was the first one up as I sat in front of the living room heating vent to keep myself warm as I introduced myself to the device; "Hello, tape recorder, we're going to make some beautiful music together". Along with the recorder itself, my mom had also bought a blank cassette. It was a 90-minute tape made by TDK. She had been told by her sister that 120 minute tapes break relatively easy because of their extra-long size.

I tried to put what I thought was the tape into the recorder, but it was too big. I realized, after a minute or two, that the cassette was still in its case. I opened it up and put the tape inside. The first thing I recorded was me saying, "Testing...1...2...3... Testing ...1...2...3". I played it back and, like many, didn't really believe that the way I sounded on the tape was how I came off in real life. That first day, I recorded a number of TV commercials (a Qbert ad, for one) as well as my brothers and sister talking a bit.

The device hit its full potential in the summer of '83 when I recorded an adaptation of the blockbuster movie "Return of the Jedi" with my siblings. As we headed into the second half of that recording, I quizzed my younger brother on Star Wars minutiae:


Anonymous said...

aww how cute I can't believe you still have that recording!!

Narkissos said...

is that your voice asking the cute....
i remember they still exist?
we had a national panasonic tape recorder.....and later someone, a very controversial political figure gave fay a wall mounting spool tape player and a spool of nursery rhymes....he's been hitting the news again!?! will write about that soon....:)

Thomas said...

Thanks, Anonymous! Here's a portion of the actual adaptation:

Yes, Narkissos, it is I asking the questions. I was 12 at the time, my brother, 9.

TDK apparently still exists, though I'm not sure how active they are in the States. Looking forward to your next post.

SilverNeurotic said...

I miss tape recorders. I had such fun with my old ones I've had over the years.

Phil said...

Hilarious! If only we could go back to those simpler times. Now it's incredibly difficult to find any piece of technology that will impress a kid.

Phats said...

haha this is awesome, I love this post. My sister and I also taped commercials, and tv shows funny I don't have any of those tapes anymore. Wish I did. Love that you posted that video that is great classic.

Brad said...

our daughter who is 9 has a flip video camera, its low quality and more for kids, she will sit up in her room making videos of her singing, dancing or just talking to it. I always tell Paige we should put the recordings on the computer and save them for when she is older.... When she she first got it she would annoy the crap out of us with it! Would be early Sunday morning and she would come down recording us.
I guess that is her generations tape player.

Thomas said...

Nice to hear that you also have wonderful memories of the device, Sil.

So true, Phil. My next post is gonna be about a contemporary child who was actually impressed by a record.

Phats, glad you enjoyed it! My mom listened to it a few days ago and was tickled, our voices much different today than they were then.

Brad, thanks for stopping by. You should definitely find a way to permanently save the recordings. Your child's offspring will greatly appreciate it.