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Arts & Culture

Burriss On the Media: Nothing's New

By Dr. Larry Burriss, MTSU


Murfreesboro, TN – On May 28th, 1953, Walt Disney premiered "Melody," the first animated 3-dimensional Technicolor cartoon. That's right, nearly 60 years ago we were watching 3-D movies. But to listen to kids today, you would think 3-D movies are some new technology recently sprung on the public.

And that got me to thinking about how many other supposedly "new" technologies have, in fact, been around for dozens of years.

How many of you remember quadraphonic sound? It was absolutely phenomenal 4-channel sound, left and right, front and back. Unfortunately, there were three competing quad systems, none of which were compatible. So in the early 70s quad died, only to be resurrected some 30 years later as Dolby sound.

FM radio? It was developed in the 1930s, and was a completely viable alternative to AM. But the companies that held patents on AM equipment saw a threat to their near-monopoly, and convinced the Federal Communications Commission to enact regulations that prevented FM's full deployment until the late 50s and early 60s.

And it's not just technology. Do you remember the phrase that was so popular a few years ago, "Who's your daddy"? I asked some students when the phrase first came about, and most said in the late '90s. Then I played a song from the early '60s, "Time of the Season" by the Zombies. And there it was, "What's your name, who's your daddy."

I first saw high definition television in the early 1980s, but various U.S. laws aimed at protecting American technical development held up its importation for more than a dozen years.

None of this is to denigrate all of the wonderful new technologies out there. Rather, it's a message for parents who often feel at the mercy of their tech-savvy kids. Whenever they start to boast about the new technologies they're using, just remind them we were probably had the same technologies 20, 30 or even 40 years ago.

It's been said "the more things change, the more they stay the same," and "nothing's permanent, except change."

I'm Larry Burriss.