31 Aug

Losing the “sounds of an era”

Ringing telephones, cash register bells, and typewriter keys — all sounds once ubiquitous, now disappearing rapidly. In today’s column, P-I business writer Bill Virgin discusses the sounds that are gradually being eliminated by modern technology.

“Radio newscasts used to use as a background sound effect a clattering wire machine. But news wires have been fed to newsrooms by computers for more than two decades (no clanging bells to alert editors to a bulletin). People might still hear that sound and associate it with a newscast without really knowing why — but for how much longer?”

4 thoughts on “Losing the “sounds of an era”

  1. Wow, yea, I guess that dates me. I’ll be twenty in a few weeks, and I have absolutely no idea what the article was talking about, what with the wire machine sounds and all.
    I’ve never used a typewriter.
    Cash registers had bells? Why?
    What frightens me is to think in 30 years, what things I use that are commonplace now that the youngins then will think “oh wow, what is that?”

  2. Aw geez.

    Old cash registers had a “cha-CHING!” bell that would ring when the drawer popped open.

    Hence the use of “cha-CHING!” as slang to indicate that someone is getting money. 🙂

  3. Make Jason rebuild a rotary phone for you. I might even have an extra. I restore them and plug them in, so that when my phone rings I get an actual bell ringing phone.

    Of course, I pick up the cordless with the caller ID display, but it’s the ringing bell phone that I hear.

    It also helps that the rotary phones work during power blackouts.

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