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Star Trek To Mars–50 Years Goes By In A Flash

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Fifty years ago I celebrated my bar mitzvah, the normal coming-of-age ceremony for Jewish males on the age of 13.

While its origin is spiritual, gifts–to be honest–do play a job in the day, and in my day it was an often repeated joke at such events: “Today I am a fountain pen.”

Truth be told, I did (and still do) like fountain pens, but I used to be more thinking about what passed for tech in those days. At an early age, I had built my very own crystal radio; I had an early version transistor radio; I was obsessed with where can you find natural gas in the world space exploration; and that i loved the local planetarium.

So my number one present request–the gift I’d have done anything for–was a small TV…a Sony with a 3.5-inch screen like my friend BJ had where can you find natural gas in the world gotten for his bar mitzvah. However, my late father was the rabbi and he nixed that idea. Shrinks aside, my gifts were more of the spiritual sort.

LOL…this is not a grouse piece. Quite the opposite, as I realized that fifty years had passed and that i remembered that little TV I might wanted, I thought that a look back and then back up might be so as.

Let’s start with that TV. Sony had introduced an 8-inch battery pack TV in 1961. They were mobile. So so long as your antenna (remember them ) could grab a signal, you could possibly sit anywhere in your house–even in bed under the covers, in your yard, the park, the beach, wherever you wanted–and not less than pretend to observe, since the image was often fuzzy and flickery. But who cared! It was cool, small and mobile.

Today that very same kid wants an enormous screen…small shouldn’t be cool. And mobile is, well, mobile.
In 1966, the Oscar winner for best picture was the musical The Sound of Music…singing nuns, adorable children, bad Nazis and a “Do – a Deer” optimism.

In 2016, the Oscar winner was Spotlight…abusive priests, damaged kids and an obstructive church.
Here is an interesting one: in 1966, Shai Agnon, an Israeli poet, won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Bob Dylan won it just last week. Read the works of both.

In 1966, the highest TV show in the US (with huge global distribution) was Bonanza, which aired on the NBC network once a week–Sunday, if I remember correctly. It had 17 million plus viewers and had to be watched because it aired, with no options to record or stream. It was produced for 14 years and still runs in syndication all over the world today.

This year, the highest TV shows were Sunday Night Football and The large Bang Theory, each with over 20 million viewers. And they say TV is dead. Game of Thrones hit a high of 23 million across all types of viewing. Eight million or so is considered a good number for shows that originate from a streaming source as opposed to from a network.

In 1966, Star Trek debuted but was canceled two years later as a whole failure. Man had not yet walked on the moon and spaceflight was still about space walks.

Fast-forward to today where Star Trek is a global phenomenon and the guy who makes electric cars goes to get us to Mars…go figure!

Music was probably as eclectic in 1966 as it is today. Frank Sinatra was still popular as were the Beatles, and my favorite band of all time, The Doors, had just gotten its start. Protest music had started to bubble up with Dylan and others targeting the war in Vietnam. Singles were still being sold on vinyl, and LPs were hot with record jackets becoming sources of art and content…an immersive experience if you’ll.

Today, streaming sources have made more music available to all of us; it’s fascinating that a lot of the music of the 60s remains to be popular. And vinyl LPs are making a small but powerful comeback with younger audiences as Adele has proved that marketing music for real success hasn’t changed.

There’s so much more to jot down but this is something to help frame the “sharing economy” we seem to believe we have now only recently created: “Bike Share.” In Amsterdam in 1966, “Luud Schimmelpennink…scattered ‘White Bikes’ around the streets for anyone to freely enjoy…the concept spread across Europe for the subsequent 30 years, accompanied by innovations to make sure the return of the bikes.”

From bikes to cars to room and board…
So do I marvel as I look back Do I sit here and wonder how stone age it was to make a call on a phone that was connected to a line in a wall

Or…
Because the Financial Times reported,

Robert Gordon of Northwestern University argues, clean water, modern sewerage, electricity, the telephone, the radio, the petroleum industry, the internal combustion engine, the motor car and the aeroplane — all innovations of the late 19th and early 20th centuries — were far more transformative than the knowledge technologies of the past 75 years.

You tell me. But here is what I do know and where I land…listen:
All of us have our time machines. Some take us back, they’re called memories. Some take us forward, they’re called dreams.