By now we have moved on from flying in Analogue times to digital vs analogue photography. But flying, travelling and photography are all connected.
Connectivity in analogue times was another issue. Back in the 70’s and. 80’s connection was much more basic. Rotary dial telephones were replaced by push button ones. Mobile phones or even Smart Phones were still on the horizon and internet connectivity was far off as well.
So how did we connect? Long distance telephone calls were horrifingly expensive. A 20 min call from Germany to Brazil would set you back about 100 EURO. Many places in the world could not be dialed directly anyway. One would need an operator.
Imagine you are in a far flung or even not so far country, like Azores – Germany or Peru – Germany, or Australia – Germany. You want to make a call. Assuming the telephone in the hotel or private home would have international dialing, one would call the phone company, international operator and book the call.
The operator would tell you when it was possible to get a connection. This could be hours away, so one had to wait next to the phone for the call to come through.
In a worse case scenario, as I experiences several times in Latin America, one had to go to the international call centre at the Central Post office. Usually there was already a throng of people wanting to make a call. So one joined the cue until it was possible to to talk to the counter clerk. The call was booked.
Now there were two possibilities.
A) The call could come through quickly and one was assigned a phone booth and asked to wait in there. Within 5 to 10 minutes the phone would ring and one could hear the calling tone on the other end. If all was good, someone would answer. If not, back to square one.
B) The international network was busy and a call was only possible at a later time or next day. One also had to consider time differences and ensure that the call would not get the receiver in the middle of the night. So you would receive a number and be asked to come back.
Apart from the inconvenience, these calls were not cheap either. So if phone was not an option? Telex or Telegram.
Telex was limited in so far, that there had to be a Telex receiver at the other end. I remember that the corporation I worked for had a Telex machine. The Telex was typed onto a ‘lochstreifen’ a punched tape and then fed into the transmitter. The operation was a bit like morse code, only faster.
Telegram was something you would go to the post office for. You would write the text, as short as possible, since every word would be charged and give to the clerk. The post office would encode, often using Telex and send to the receiving post office. There the Telex was printed and glued on to a Telegram form and dispatched by a courier to the receiver. Telegram was often used in case of Death or Marriage or in asking for the transfer of urgent funds.
As you can see, all this was very cumbersome and the development of internet, e-mail, internet phone, smartphone made everything so much easier. Instantaneous connection for better or for worse.
In fact member of the older generation still wonder about the speed of all this. My mother, which is in her 90’s just asked me on the weekend how long the delivery of her e-mails would take.
But why for worse? Some of the adventure has dissappeared. By waiting for phone calls I met many interesting people. Co-travellers. We often shared experiences and gave tips and advice to each other. Something nowadays you would use Tripadvisor or similar for. But then you need Internet and you never can be sure about the authenticity and accuracity of the information.
But worse as well, because to many messages are send or calls are made in a haste. Words are send or spoken, which, given a bit more time and thought, may not have and many damaging exchanges may have been avoided. Considering the higher cost in those ‘backward’ times, sending Telegrams or making calls on impulse may not have happened. So…..
Memories on the analogue world…bittersweet….until next time.