features - tech 3
Party Lines? Rotary Phones? Technology Has Come a Long Way!

by Annie Moreno

Today it is hard to imagine a world without easy technology, a world without the technology we have today, especially today’s high school and early college students who have grown up with technology always available in their back pocket. WHS students get ready to go back in time before technology was so easy to come by and available everywhere.

Principal Tracey Franklin describes what the technology world was like in the mid-‘90s and late ‘80s saying, “Cell phones were not introduced until the mid-‘90s when I was in college. When I was in high school, we would use the front office phones to call our parents and we would use our home phone lines.”

Franklin also discussed her first phone, “[It] was a Nokia, it had a florescent yellow screen and no texting.” She also told a little about TVs. She said, “TVs were in color, but there [were] only 100 channels and no high def.”

English teacher John Van Bloem describes life with technology in the 1970’s when he was a kid. “The only things that were wireless were walkie talkies and the radio.” Van Bloem’s first computer was an Apple. “My brother bought one and we would joke with him about how it was nerdy and how he was never going to make any money off of it.”

Van Bloem also described what cars were like in the ‘70s saying, “They were much bigger and made with heavier metal… Styling your car with a square front was in. Whether your license plate ended in an odd or even number depended on the day you could get gas,” Van Bloem recalls. “I bought gas for 89 cents in the late 90’s.”

Media Specialist Cindy Cunningham tells The Lions Pride what life was like with technology in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. “We used dial phones and everything was attached to a wire. There were no push buttons when I was in high school. There were lots of telephone poles, wires, and party lines. Party lines were the cheap way to go.” Party lines were when a person would call the operator in a telephone building and physically connect that person’s telephone wire with the line of the person they were trying to all. The telephone operator could hear all of the conversations.

To imagine a world without computers is hard. Cunningham shares with us “There were no computers in schools. Computers were only used for big companies such as NASA or the FBI. They took up a whole room. The data was collected on cards… I didn’t even know what a computer was until high school.”

Math teacher Tim Beal describes what technology was like in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. He said that he had a phone with a rotary dial; every phone was attached to a wall with a cord. Beal said, “When I was a kid we thought it was the best thing since sliced bread that my dad bought a 20 foot cord so we could actually leave the room while talking on the phone. My sister used to go around the corner and talk on the phone thinking we couldn’t hear what she was talking about.” Beal remembers that cars had no seatbelts; “I remember playing in the back of our station wagon like it was a playground.”

Christine Keleher, English and Creative Writing teacher at WHS, talked about what technology was like in the early 2000’s when she was in high school. She tells us what phones were like. “We had a pager in high school. I didn’t have a cell phone until my freshmen year in college because I was going away. It was an orange flip phone.” When asked about cars in the early 2000’s Keleher says, “I didn’t have a car until my sophomore year in college. It was a Grand Am.”

When asked about what was a big trend in high school, Keleher said, “The big thing in high school was instant messaging.” Instant messaging was used through the computer. She also shared “In my house we had one computer, and in school we had two small computer labs.”

Mitzi Smith, chemistry lab helper talked about what life was like with technology in the 1950’s. When asked about phones she said, “We used party lines, and many different families shared the phone line. Families could hear other families talk from other houses. We had rotary phones.” When asked about computers, Smith said that not a lot of people had access to them. “They were only used for the military and big enough to fill a room. In the mid-‘80s, floppy disks came out; I didn’t have a computer until I was grown with two children.”

Maggie Gauthier, staff support, shares with us what technology was like in the late ‘60s. She said that there were no computers. “I took a typing class on a typewriter. To fix mistakes, we used whiteout and correction tape. To do research, we had to go to the library and use the Dewey Decimal System. There were no cordless phones, but the CIA had cordless phones.”

Gauthier also said, “The record players I had were the 45’s and the 33’s. They were eight inches in diameter,” When asked about cars, Gauthier said, “Gas was 58 cents a gallon. Now most brands of cars look the same, but back then every brand looked different.”

As shown in the answers from these WHS staff members, today’s modern technology has changed our lifestyle forever.