Just because our beloved technology is dated, doesn’t mean you can’t find out something new about it!
This interesting idea for an article came to me while writing about what happens when you insert a LaserDisc “dead side” up.
Call me crazy, but inspiration hit to look back at some other interesting things we tried to do or figure out with our “primitive” 1980s technology. Truly it was a fun time that can’t be explained to today’s modern kids, who “know” and “discover” everything!
I’m sure some (or all) of this is not new to our very nostalgic minds, but humor me, this was a fun little bit of research! Plus, nostalgic technology! :-)
Our Very Nostalgic Technology
We loved our gadgets in the 1980s just as much as we love our gadgets now. Sure our tech has advanced – Walkmans are replaced with mp3 players and phones, our portable phones are truly portable, cassettes and records have evolved into CDs and digital media, and BETA and VHS became DVDs, Blu-Rays, and like our music, digital media. We love our technology, and as it advances, it makes our lives better. But there was this awesome time when we tried to figure out what our “primitive” tech was doing, or what we could make our “primitive” tech do to work for us!
Because we loved experimenting with our tech then just as much as we do now!
Consider us the early innovators…or just a bunch of creative kids.
The Videocassette Dial-Up
Uploaded by BlueOctopede
I KNEW IT!
I wasn’t the only little kid that heard the dial-up tone at the beginning of my videocassettes. And like the wonderful BlueOctopede (whose videos I highly recommend!), I heard this on my Disney videocassettes. Which reminds me, I really should pull out my Beauty and the Beast VHS for the nostalgia factor…but mostly to catch that dial tone.
The tone at the beginning of our videos is the Dual Tone Multiple Frequences, or DTMF, tone. This “dialing” sound, as described by Reddit user NerdyGerdy:
“DTMF signaling tones can also be heard at the start or end of some VHS (Video Home System) cassette tapes. Information on the master version of the video tape is encoded in the DTMF tone. The encoded tone provides information to automatic duplication machines, such as format, duration and volume levels, in order to replicate the original video as closely as possible.”
But why was this more commonplace on Disney videos?
…And the Videocassette “White Screen of Death”
That is actually more gray than anything.
Uploaded by Princess Daisy Fanatic Backup
And sometimes red…
Because a blood red screen and a long beeping squeal were perfectly acceptable at the end of a videocassette, when white/gray wasn’t scary enough. This color just screams “I murdered your favorite Disney video!”
Actually, it is a from a United Kingdom print of O Brother Where Are Thou?, and was uploaded (bravely) by You Tube user Daniel Mullins.
…Or This Strange Noise
Guess whose headphones were (accidentally) turned up for this one?!
Uploaded by tititag89
Because the White Screen of Death (and its snappy British cousin, the Red Screen of Death) wasn’t terrifying enough, here’s some loud music, followed by a faux siren!
Teddy Ruxpin Sings!
Uploaded by scbird
Everyone tried this at least once. I tried it with Cricket and my New Kids on the Block tape!
The whole thing with getting our talking dolls to rock out to our other cassette tapes is that, unfortunately, it doesn’t work well. Unless you’re uploader scbird.
This video’s uploader explained in the comments section that they recorded the song on the right channel, and the tones on the left channel to control the eyes and mouth, resulting in what everyone with a talking doll wanted to accomplish in the 1980s.
And this was the best video of the “experimental” bunch. Unfortunately, all the other videos trying the same thing were done by kids who probably found out about this…and felt the need to talk on the video. Nope, couldn’t handle them. This, on the other hand? I could seriously rock out to this!
…And Talking Doll Tapes Do This In Standard Tape Decks!
This was something I tried with my Walkman when I was nine years old. I still had all the tapes from my Cricket doll that I gotten about five years earlier, and while I wasn’t incredibly fond of the doll anymore, I still liked her stories and figured taking one “one the road” would be fine.
This is exactly what happens when you play a talking doll cassette in a standard tape deck (and no, it is not my video):
Uploaded by BB182000
You can hear the recording just fine, but your enjoyment had to contend with the beep boop bop sounds. These “beep boop bop” sounds are the signals that control the eye and mouth movements of our classic talking dolls. As explained with the Teddy Ruxpin video, there is one channel for the recording (right channel), and another for the eye/mouth motion controls (left channel).
Give ‘Em Credit!
Our tech was much more sophisticated than most will ever give it credit for, because someone had to figure out how to make our toys talk and get our videos to work correctly in our VCRs! Sure we were weirded out by the sounds things made, and equally fascinated by how those weird noises made things work. But in the end, it was our technology, and we always made do with what we had…while figuring out all the cool ways to make something work for our adorably nefarious purposes.
Those kids trying this stuff probably think they’re the innovators. If they only knew how many 30-somethings were so far ahead of them…