Technology in the 50s and 60s

Drive-In Theater

A Bullitt Ford Mustang replica at the Capri Drive In Theater in Coldwater, Michigan, during the showing of Bullitt at its 40th anniversary in 2004.
A Bullitt Ford Mustang replica at the Capri Drive In Theater in Coldwater, Michigan, during the showing of Bullitt at its 40th anniversary in 2004. | Source

Technology in the 50s and 60s

Whenever I remember my life in Wisconsin in the late 1950s and early 1960s, I can't help but get very nostalgic. These were my formative years where I spent a lot of time in junior and senior high school. Life was a lot different back then than it is today. It was a lot simpler and much less technologically advanced. We didn't have computers, i-Pads, i-Phones, or video games. Just the same, I remember being very happy with what we had. In this hub I will share with you what I recall being specifically different from what we have today.

Technological Tools from the Late 50s and Early 60s

Parts of a Slide Rule
Parts of a Slide Rule | Source
A Slide Rule
A Slide Rule | Source
Pin Ball Machines
Pin Ball Machines | Source
A Transistor Radio
A Transistor Radio | Source

Using the Sliderule

Technology in the 50s and 60s

Which technology do you remember the most from the 50s and 60s?

  • Transistor radios
  • Juke boxes
  • Telephone rotary dialling
  • Slide rule
  • Other
See results without voting

Different Way of Life in the Late 50s and early 60s

1. Telephone:

The telephone during my youth was much different than it is today. It was large, located on a desk or wall in the house, and used only for making calls. Being solely a rotary type phone, you had to dial all numbers. The biggest thing I remember is that our family's rural phone was on a party line shared with 2-3 neighbors. We had one old neighbor lady who was always gabbing on the phone when any of us picked up the receiver. My sister loved eavesdropping on her calls. Because we were on a party line, we always had to go through an operator when making a long distance call. Our telephone number was 29J1. Telephones and telephone service today with its cell phones that can connect to the Internet, take pictures, and play music are a far cry from what we had.

2. Slide Rule:

I learned how to use the slide rule when I was a high school junior (11th grade.) It was a necessary tool for all math and science students, because the hand-held calculator had not yet been developed. With the slide rule or slip stick as we called it, you could do all the basic mathematical operations, take square and cube roots, do trigonometric functions, and process logarithms.

3. Phonograph Records and Players:

When we wanted to listen to our own music, we had to have a record player and records. Single hits on each side of a record were on 7 inch 45 rpms, while hits on albums were on 12 inch long play (LP) 33 1/3 rpms. I definitely remember buying a lot of Elvis Presley 45 hits such as "Love Me Tender" and "Jail House Rock." The problem with the records was that they tended to scratch easily, and if they got warped, the needle would skip all around the record. Today young people listen to all of their music on CDs, MP3s, or on the Internet.

4. Juke Boxes:

I will never forget the jukeboxes from my youth. you could find them in cafes, bars, and even outside the gym of my senior high school. By dropping a quarter into the slot, you could select three songs. I can still hear the song, "You Talk Too Much, You Worry Me to Death," by Joe Jones blaring from outside the gym in 1960.

5. Letters and Pen Pals:

Letter writing was the popular means of long distance communication 50 years ago. I enjoyed writing letters very much, and receiving them even more. When I was a senior in high school, I had a number of female pen pals. There is so much a letter has which an email can not duplicate. When I received letters from my pen pals, it excited almost all of my senses, especially if the letter was perfumed and powdered. Besides seeing the handwriting, I could smell the perfume and feel the powder. No email could have done that.

6. Film Projectors:

If you wanted to watch a film in the late 50s, you had to either go to a movie theater or watch it on a film projector in your home. My junior high friend had a film projector in his room. I remember watching his home made movies which were projected on to the wall in his bedroom. Later, I recall viewing movies in college with 35 mm projectors which were projected on screens on campus every Friday evening. A frequent problem then was the film getting stuck in the projector. Today, of course, people can watch movies on DVD players or on the Internet if they decide not to go to the cinema.

7. Transistor Radios:

I remember getting my first transistor radio when I was in the eighth grade. Being so small, I could hold it in my hand, and it would even fit into my pocket. It could play both AM and FM stations, and it was my constant companion wherever I went. Today, most kids have boom boxes, MP3 players, or I pods to listen to music.

8. Drive in Movies:

Drive in movies were a special place for young people 50 years ago. Besides going to see a movie outside in the evening in the privacy of their car, young lovers had a great place where they could make out while watching a movie.

9. A&W Root Beer Stands:

A trip to an A&W Root Beer stand during a hot summer evening was always a happy event for the family. Without getting out of your car, you could order root beers and burgers and have them delivered straight to you. No, you wouldn't drive away after your order was delivered. Instead, you would roll down your window, and a waitress would attach a tray with your order on it. In today's high paced world, it is rare to find this service.

10. Pin Ball Machines:

I am not much a fan of electronic games today; however, I do fondly remember the Palooka pin ball machine from the early 60s. My college buddies and I used to play it a lot. We would have contests to see who could get the highest score or turn over the machine. The game was really exciting with its flippers, targets, drops, and the constant cling clanging of the machine while the score increased. In my opinion, no electronic game of today can compete with it.

11. Stay At Home Mothers:

During the late 1950s and 1960s most mothers stayed at home with the children while the father went out to work. This was most definitely the case with my parents who lived and worked on a farm, although my mother did help my father a lot in the barn. It seems there was less crime then, because children and young people were more supervised and given guidance than they are today.

Life today will never be like it was 50 years ago. Everyone appreciates and loves the technological improvements and conveniences of today. Hopefully, we can learn from the past, and incorporate some of its good qualities into our lives today.

© 2011 Paul Richard Kuehn

More by this Author


Comments 10 comments

MsDora profile image

MsDora 5 years ago from The Caribbean

Thanks for the memories! I still remember my first transistor radio. Mine was also the family radio; there was no electricity in the house. The juke box is also a pleasant memory.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Thanks for the comments, MsDora. I remember the first farm my dad rented in 1954. It didn't have indoor plumbing and we had to use an outhouse. Thankfully we only lived there for three years.


Hugh Centerville 4 years ago

A really nice post - when I was a kid growing up, my dad owned a country bar and we lived upstairs and every night we'd go to sleep to the sound of the jukebox downstairs - Patsy Cline, Elvis, Johnny Horton (remember him?) Thanks for reminding me!


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Yes, I remember Johnny Horton! Didn't he sing "North to Alaska' in the late 1950s? Thanks for the good comments.


Efficient Admin profile image

Efficient Admin 4 years ago from Charlotte, NC

Wow I can remember all of these and the rotary phones hanging on the wall except everybody had their own phone, and I'm not 50 yet but you know how time flies! I still remember playing my records on a record player.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Thanks for reading and your comments. It's amazing how we all got along without cell phones years ago!


Remember 4 years ago

Half dollars, quarters & dimes were made of 90% silver. Pennies were of 95% copper. There were telephone booths. There were fire alarm boxes on the street to summon the fire department.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Remember,

Thanks for reading and your great comments. Yes, I certainly remember the fire alarm boxes on the street.


Celebrates profile image

Celebrates 21 months ago

I always thought A&W Root Beer stands were a local phenomenon. That root beer used to come out, delivered at sub zero temperatures. It was ice cold, and the mug had frost. Those were the days. Thanks for the memories.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 21 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Celebrates, I am very happy that you enjoyed reading this hub. Yes, I do remember the frosty A&W root beer which was delivered to cars on a tray and hung on the rolled down window. That has to be the best root beer I have every had in my life.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working