Becoming A Communications Junkie

For kids my age in the 1940s, the ultimate excitement on a Saturday afternoon was attending the movie theatre to watch cowboy movies starring Tom Mix, Roy Rogers, and my all-time favourite, The Lone Ranger. This masked, self-appointed lawman never killed or wounded his adversaries. Somehow, he was able to miraculously disarm them by simply shooting the guns out of their hands. For the rest of the week, when at play, we pretended to be cowboys with our toy guns.  I always insisted on playing my hero, The Lone Ranger. The movie screen brought joy, excitement, and a sense of wonder into our lives.

Just as I was about to start high school there were a lot of rumblings in my small farming community about a new invention called television that would bring moving pictures into everyone’s home through the air. I thought it was sheer nonsense dreamed up by a madman. But one day I happened to be in Cornwall, about 12 miles from my home, and stopped before a crowd looking into a store window. And for the very first time I witnessed this invention. It was a truly memorable moment in my life.

Although my family never had a TV while I was growing up, black and white television sets, during the 1950s and 60s, gradually made their way into the homes of millions of Canadians. They became the all-time favourite recreational pastime of families. No one, however, could have predicted the enormous popularity of next phase in its evolution-coloured television. The sets sold in the hundreds of millions and are now an integral part of every family’s life throughout the developed world.

From about the mid-1950s until the present day, communications devices exploded onto the market at an astronomical pace. The list of almost a dozen new inventions that are now in general use is truly mind-boggling. Although some were on the drawing boards long after they were first invented, because of the need to make them marketable, they hit their stride just before and shortly after the 21st century dawned. To date I have witnessed all of them and have used most.

Offices, large and small, including mine, both at home and at work, as well as millions of residences, were the beneficiaries of many of these devices that seemed to come into their own in the 1980s, and during the first decades of the 21st century.

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Dr. James F. McDonald is a retired elementary school principal who lives in Dundas, ON.
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