Broken record sound

May 19, 2016
#12 Like A Broken Record Hello

Who knew that some noises could eventually become as extinct as the passenger pigeon? Depending on your age, you or your kids or grandchildren may have only heard some of the following sounds in old movies, if at all.

1. Rotary Dial Telephone

The formerly familiar swooosh as the caller rotated the dial clockwise to the "finger stop" and then the click-click-click as the dial returned counter-clockwise to the start position is now a novelty application that you can install on your iPhones for nostalgic yuks. Adolescents waiting in line nearby will wonder what the heck that sound is, while we older fogies will know you're poking fun at us and our ancient ways.

2. Manual Typewriter

Manual typewriters had an entire subset of unique sounds that made them immediately identifiable...at one time. The keys clacked loudly as they struck the paper, the carriage lifted up with a distinct clunk when the shift key was employed, and then there was the ping of the bell warning you that you were nearing the end of the line. That meant you had to lift your left hand from the keyboard and swipe at the carriage return lever, which caused a sort of ziiiiip noise as you pushed the carriage back to the starting position.

3. Coffee Percolator

If steampunk had an aural definition, it would be the bloop-hissss of an old school coffee percolator.

4. Flash Cube

The loud rapid-fire click-clack of an Instamatic camera equipped with a flash cube was a common background sound at any social gathering in the 1960s. It was a technological breakthrough to be able to snap off four – count 'em, four! – photos in rapid succession without having to pause and install a new flash bulb after every shot. Even back then your crunchy granola types were concerned with the amount of waste used flash cubes created, so it became a common holiday craft project to repurpose the used cubes into trendy Christmas tree ornaments.

5. TV Channel Selector

When announcers of yesteryear used to admonish viewers, "Don't touch that dial!", they were referring to the channel selector knobs found on TV sets. The standard TV dial went from 2 to 13, and you had to click on each number as you searched for one of the three channels that broadcast in your area. That meant a lot of clunk clunk-ing interspersed with the static-y sound of "snow" on the blank stations. Listen to this old Muntz after it's first switched on and you'll hear another antique sound, the soft buzzzz of the picture tube warming up.

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