Saturday, October 13, 2018

Answering Machines and Victrolas
      I was in a staff meeting for the School of Business and Nonprofit Management where I teach. During the agenda item on what faculty could do to assist in recruiting students, we reviewed a program where faculty call recently accepted students to congratulate them and encourage them to commit to North Park University. It is a great program in concept. I noted, “In not recognizing the number of the incoming call, no one answers the phone and I end up leaving a message on their answering machine.” Everyone laughed. I asked, with a dumb look on my face, “What??” Someone filled me in saying, “Answering machine? It’s called Voice Mail this century.” 
     Well, yes. Technically, they were right in laughing at me. I was certainly referring to a most outdated technology. Laughter aside, everyone knew what I meant.
      There is a precedent however: my father. This, occasional, trait of mine for using outdated terminology seems to be following in his footsteps. For as long as I can remember, he would occasionally refer to the refrigerator as an icebox. “Where are the apples?” He would respond, “they’re in the icebox.” Or he might ask, “Go to the icebox and get…” whatever. He used the term early enough in my life and often enough that I assumed that icebox and refrigerator were synonymous terms. In my view, to a certain degree, they are. It is where items you want to keep cold are stored. It matters not what method is used to cool the stuff in the box. I used to use the terms interchangeably, until, I was old enough to realize what an icebox actually was and how antiquated the term actually was. 
      The same logic applies to the answering machine and voice mail example. When I call someone, they don’t answer, and I hear a recording of the person’s voice telling me that they are not there and to leave a message, I have no idea if I that recording is from an antique answering machine or voice mail provided by their cell or home service provider. Actually, if I know I am calling someone’s cell phone, duh, I am fairly certain it isn’t an answering machine when I hear their recorded voice.
Uhuru Furniture
     My dad had another one of these that I found even more amusing. He used to call any music playback device, that required a needle to function, a Victrola. Of course, most everyone else called them record players or phonographs. For some reason, I never took the name Victrola to by synonymous with record player. I never really knew the origin of that term. I did figure it out about the same age I found out how an icebox differed from a refrigerator. Victrolas were actually the brand name of phonographs made by The Victor Talking Machine Company from 1901 – 1929 ( 
     The brand is still alive today,, as one can purchase a variety of retro looking record players... er... I mean...Victrolas: 
Victrola was born in 1906 in Camden, NJ when first introduced to the American public by the Victor Talking Machine Company. Full of entrepreneurial ideas and known for its use of quality materials, Victor (later becoming RCA) was the largest and most successful turntable manufacturer of its time.
More than 110 years later, the legendary Victrola trademark has been revived in the US and is now owned by Innovative Technology – The Victrola Brand will once again symbolize the same high-quality, nostalgic turntables of the past for this century’s music listeners of all ages.
    I would expound more on all of this but have to go and check my answering machine as the light is flashing. 

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post, I can relate a lot to this. Despite being from a generation that is known for its use of technology, I was late to the game in a lot of regards. I didn’t get my first cellphone until high school, which was a flip phone much older than what my classmates had. Even now, I still don’t have a Facebook or Instagram account, so a lot of terminology with those mediums is lost on me. I don’t feel like I’m at a disadvantage because I don’t know as much of the modern slag today, I still understand most things, but must translate back to what I know from experiences. Hope to read more from you in the future.