Nostalgic Noises

Mental_Floss has collected 11 examples of noises that once were commonplace but now we just don’t hear anymore, from the rotary telephone dial to the record changer.

I remember, back in college, getting a sound pack that made my Macintosh keyboard sound like a manual typewriter: the click on every key, the thunk of the space bar, the whoosh of the carriage return whenever I tapped Enter. My roommate hated it, complaining that I spent how many thousands of dollars (as they were back then) to make those sounds. I had to learn on a manual, though, in typing class, because it took a certain amount of finger strength that our teacher wanted us to develop. And having to unjam the keys if you went too fast!

But then, I’m one of those who remember the world before the internet. One day, that will seem as far away as the world where the TV stations signed off.

4 Responses to “Nostalgic Noises”

  1. SKleefeld Says:

    Interesting tandem: the scratching record noise that older folks know to signify a sharp halting to whatever music/ambient noise you’re listening. While kids apparently still understand that the noise signifies that abrupt end (from it’s being used in TV and movies) they have no clue where it comes from or why that noise (as opposed to any other) is always used.

  2. Thad Says:

    Yech — I remember ICQ bundled clacking-key noises in the late 1990’s, and that was too much even for my teenage self.

    I went through a phrase — around the time websites with frames and embedded MIDIs were vogue — where I attached sounds to all kinds of functions. (A Beast Wars clip for “Maximize”, etc.) Now the first thing I do when I set up a computer is disable all the built-in sound effects.

    Someday I’d like to write an episode of a TV series where a guest character shows up and starts turning around and making confused faces every time a computer makes a noise for no reason. “Why’s it doing that? Your computer beeps every time text comes up onscreen? Man, how do you DEAL with that for eight hours a day?”

    Anyhow, per nostalgic noises — I can’t remember the last time I heard TV snow, and it’s rare even to hear it on the car radio anymore since the Seek function skips over stations that aren’t coming in clearly.

    And it’s not just typewriter key clacks that have gone away — mechanical computer keyboards had a pretty distinctive sound, too. (I’ve got an old IBM Model M at home, but it’s mostly for show.)

    And if you had an old Mac, you probably remember how the floppy drive seek used to sound.

    Let’s see — tape rewinding. Or being inserted or ejected.

    Old game system boot sounds/music. Game Boy, Sega CD, PlayStation 1, the singsong “SE-ga” or the Capcom/Konami themes. (I could talk about old game sound effects in general, but they’ve never gone away; Mario, Sonic, Final Fantasy, et al are nostalgia-based franchises and love reusing their old 8- and 16-bit effects.)

    Yeah, I’m skewing a bit more recent than the list. I was born in ’82. But I’m old enough to start being surprised by just how young Kids These Days are. (The fact that I’ve recently been reorganizing the house and going through old tapes and video games probably helps.)

  3. DeBT Says:

    Interestingly enough, TVtropes has a whole page of videogame sounds that’re completely out of whack with the game or system that’re being played. A typical example is a kid playing Doom, and hearing the music from Space Invaders.

    Most of this is pretty irrelevant to me, since I usually play with the sound off. But I still have nostalgic feelings for the sound of the old ringing telephone which used an actual bell inside the machine, and not just a simulated sound.

  4. Daniella Orihuela-Gruber Says:

    I am probably the only person my age who learned to type on a type-writer instead of a computer. My mom still uses one in her office.




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