Being a child of the 1990’s, I grew up in a world surrounded by a technological glow. Mobiles, laptops, iPod and tablets are all objects that seem to be an everyday necessity to get through life. But of course there was a time where such things were only ever realistic in Sci-Fi movies and were considered our equivalent to hover-boards and flying cars for us today. This week I got to experience a glimpse into life during the debut of the modern world, the television.
In 1964, at the impressionable age of 5, my father, Ed Forde, watched with curious eyes as the strange man pulled up in his van, climbed onto the roof and attached what he now knows as the outside aerial for their brand new, two channeled, black and white television. For the majority of his young life, Ed grew up with his two parents and siblings in the rural town of Grenfell New South Wales. “Mum and Dad were always true advocates for family bonding” he says, “despite the cost of such a luxury, they considered it a worthy investment if it meant bringing us all together”. He mocks the modern day fears of television and technology creating introverts who can’t communicate and even criminals! If anything, he believes television helped spark such communication by providing the opportunity to comment on particular programs: about what they liked and what they expected would happen in the next episode. “Television never stopped me from going outside either. When given the option to either watch TV or go fishing or riding, i would always choose to go outside”, and i can personally vouch for that from all the stories I’ve painstakingly heard.
One of his earliest memories of growing up with a television was actually being frightened of it. “There was one show in particular I was absolutely terrified of. My brother would watch it everyday and I would always have to leave the room”. After eventually growing out of that stage, him and his brother Brendan would religiously watch their favourite program ‘Bell-bird’. As he could guess the puzzled look on my face, he helped me along by continuing to say, “probably today’s equivalent of ‘Neighbours’ “. Since television was always more of an afternoon/evening event, It just so happened that the time of the program co-insided with the time that their father would shave his face in the bathroom and somehow the microwaves emitted from the electric razor always seemed to effect the reception of the TV. “Even though I shared that one TV with 6 other siblings, that is the only time i remember having any conflict with sharing”.
I then proceeded to ask him about the television etiquette that was followed in the house. His mother was always had the authority of the house. She was very stern when it came to certain rules. The TV would always be turned off when visitors came over or when eating dinner. “Despite our irritation, Mum and Dad always had their way with the remote. You’re lucky enough to have more than one TV so you can watch whatever you want in the other room”.
I was also curious about classification rules in those days. Did they share the same ‘PG’, ‘M’, ‘MA’ guides to restrict younger viewers from watching certain content? Although he wasn’t sure, he remembered a couple of progams that he was never allowed to look at. “Shows like ‘Number 96’ and ‘The Box’ I was always forbidden from watching as a kid.” These programs were considered to be quite racy for the times with the frequent appearance of nudity and raunchy behavior.
One of Ed’s most defining moments while watching television was indeed the famous moon landing of 1969. He recalls being in year 6 when the iconic moment hit the screens. He paints the picture of the whole school being rounded up and taken to an old open-aired weather shed where the single TV stood on it’s four legs. “Everyone always seemed to be skeptic about the possibility of man walking on the moon but I was amazed of the fact that I was actually seeing it unfold right before my very eyes on this television.” It changed everything for Ed. Suddenly television became this amazing opportunity to experience something wonderful that you would otherwise never have been apart of. It became an unbelievable platform for communication in a way that it connected us from all the way out-of-space, to the small country town of Grenfell.
Upon the conclusion of this interview, Ed reiterates that television has overall been an extremely positive contribution to our society. Such technology has bridged a gap in communication and allowed us to experience a different way of absorbing the world around us. Of course, television has evolved significantly through the years from when it was first introduced in Australia. From it’s four legs, two channels and massive back, we now experience televisions thinner than cereal boxes with endless channel options that we often take for granted.