Today we’ve got satellite up-links, file downloads, peer-to-peer sharing, PVR’s, smart phones and toasters that can pretty much drive themselves to the store for a loaf of bread.  What did we do 50 years ago?  Cable TV wasn’t even a dream at that time, and the proverbial “rabbit ears” were commonplace.

We continue our series “The Antiques Toad Show” with a look at what is now considered to be antique electronics on display at the Metchosin Pioneer Museum.

RCA Victor TV Set - Metchosin Pioneer Museum, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

RCA Victor TV Set - Metchosin Pioneer Museum, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Well before the advent of remote controls, TV sets typically had 2 knobs.  One was to turn it on and off and adjust the volume, and the other was to select which channel to view.  The early sets I grew up with went from channel 1 to 13, if I recall.  To add further confusion, there is a pretty good chance this is a black-and-white model.

Today’s fast-paced modern world is full of acronyms.  There was certainly no HD available back when this TV was new, and the only acronym actively used was RCA.  Families used to make evenings out of sitting around the front room and watching their favorite shows.  You were pretty lucky in some cases if you even had a TV at your house, let alone one in each room.

We were given the opportunity to tour the museum after hours by our best friends dad, who is known as The Curator in this series on our photoblog.  During the shoot when I encountered the items we’re sharing in this blog post, I literally stopped in my tracks.  They brought back a flood of memories of growing up with my family in Edmonton.  The familiarity was so complete, I could almost feel the texture of the knobs and the speaker grills.

Classic Radio - Metchosin Pioneer Museum, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Classic Radio - Metchosin Pioneer Museum, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Many electronics from this period were powered by vacuum tubes.  They would last forever and were readily and easily available if they needed to be replaced.  I have spent a large part of my life playing guitar, and I can honestly say that the best sounding amplifiers out there today still use tubes.  This is the only true way to get that “brown sound” that many of us love so much.  When solid state amplifiers came on the scene, I bought ones that had circuits designed to emulate this sound.  It was never quite the same, to be honest.

It’s not so much that I wish to return to these times, but rather that I guess I am hitting an age now where some things instantly trigger long-lost memories.  The old sense of familiarity also bred a strong sense of security.  In today’s hectic and fast-paced world this is really missing.

We really hope you’ve been enjoying this photographic journey through the museum with us as much as we have in bringing it to you.  In the meantime, I have a text message I must get to and I think our PVR is full of some great HD programming I have to purge to make room for the new stuff…

Thank you so much for your visit, we truly appreciate it.  As always, we encourage everyone to leave us any comments you may have as we love to hear from all our visitors.

  1. Wow. Only you could make such an interesting post about obsolete electronics, Scott. And it sure triggered some memories in me. We are truly on the same wavelength . . . I just finished a post about writing letters (

    I, too, remember my first TV. We had a lot more patience then . . . now when the dish hiccups, it’s such an inconvenience.

    This was a great read1 Thank you!

  2. I’ve missed your posts Toad. Thanks for bringing us back to the Hollow today. I think my grandparents had a radio like that. Actually I have to chuckle because my husband always tells our kids that growing up he and his brother were the TV remote controls in the house. When my father-in-law wanted to change a channel he would get one of the boys to get up and do it. Wonderful post you.

    • Hi Edith! We’re so sorry for our absence, it’s been so very busy around here. We have thought of you all often and were pretty happy to have a chance to get this post out today. This thing you mention about your brothers being the TV remotes rings true for me, too! My uncle in Edmonton used to do that, too. LOL Can you possibly imagine what kind of tuner knob you’d need today to be able to select one of 2,000 TV channels? LOL Thanks so much for your kind visit my friend!

  3. avatar Doug says:

    Holy smoke does that bring back memories that my kids cannot ever relate to. I grew up in Calgary and we lived a few miles from the airport. Our TV used to get terrible interference very time an airplane would fly over our house. That finally went away when we got cable & more than two channels! What a fun post!

    Now let’s go talk about how our joints always hurt when the weather changes!

    • Ha! 🙂 I laughed right out loud at your comments here, Doug! I remember our TV getting nasty interference too!! I don’t mean to be rude but I have to go and tend to my aching joints, I feel like snow is just around the corner!! 🙂 Thanks so very much for your visit and comments, my friend, it truly means so much.

  4. avatar A.Barlow says:

    Ah sweet! I love these old boxes. I have a couple at home and some old tube radios. (amazed I have not taken photos of them yet!)

    • Thanks for the visit today, Aaron, and many heartfelt thanks for your wonderful comments! I am blown away you still have some of these at your place and you haven’t shot them yet! With your talents, those would surely be gems, my friend!! Thanks so much for taking the time to visit and for leaving us your awesome comments… it truly means a lot to us!

  5. I remember one more set of acronyms which was UHF and VHF. I think somehow UHF stood for “channels with really poor reception so don’t even bother but every now and then you can’t resist trying to get more stations so you give it another shot and then immediately remember why there’s no point until next time.” I also remember our first TV had those tubes in the back before transistors were prevalent and occasionally one would blow out. Sometimes Dad could replace it himself but often it required a visit from the TV repairman. Ah memories.

    • LOL! GREAT comments, Mark, thank you so much for taking the time to pop by and leave these for us! I had forgotten entirely about the UHF and VHF thing; as you mention, there was NOTHING broadcast on that spectrum as far as I can remember. Now that you mention it, I can’t help but wonder if it was ever used for anything useful. Other than another acronym to confuse us, that is…

      Thanks ever so kindly for your visit, my friend, we really appreciate it!

  6. avatar Len Saltiel says:

    Wow Toad, great post and the images take me back. If I didn’t know better, that television was almost identical to the one my father bought in the 60’s. Great textures and processing. They really add to the vintage feel.

  7. avatar Chris Nitz says:

    Now that is some old technology. Sadly, when you think about it that tech is actually not that old. It is crazy how fast, and far, we have come. Nice post Toad!

  8. avatar Jerry Denham says:

    Fabulous finds Toad. Love the title, too. Except it was 5 channels and nothing on. 🙂 Remember those devices very well. Great work my friend.

    • Thank you kind sir!! 🙂 In Edmonton we didn’t even have 5 channels; we had 3! Sounds like you had almost twice the choices in your programming there, Jerry! LOL We really appreciate your support & kindness my friend, thank you!

  9. avatar Curt Fleenor says:

    I remember my grandparents 25″ BW Admiral TV that looked a lot like this one. We eventually got them to go color but they never threw out the console, brings back some nice memories! Great post and images Scott!

  10. avatar Fred Norris says:

    What a great blog Toad ,I can remember as a young chap we had a similar tv in the flat in Yorkshire .There was a large dial that sat on the top that turned an antenna on the roof to select one of four channels,back then cutting edge tech.Love your radio image as well,thanks for sharing!

  11. avatar Rick says:

    Oh, I’m again myself, but I remember watching TV’s like that and having tube radios. I think times were better then. By the way, the title if your blog post is also an excellent song by Bruce Springsteen :-).

    • HA! Nice catch there, Rick! The blog post was named after that exact song! The song was actually running through my head as I put it all together, so it seemed the perfect title to me. Thank you SO much for taking the time to visit & for leaving us your thoughts!

  12. avatar Mike says:

    These are great images and a great back story to go with them Toad. As a guitarist myself, that’s the first thing I thought of as well. There is nothing better than the sound of overdriving a tube!!

  13. avatar ehpem says:

    Great memories you have triggered with this post. I remember our first TV – me and my 4 siblings got measles. My parents rented a TV to help them (my mother really) to cope. A few weeks later we got chicken pox. My parents bought a TV, and have never been without one since then (though my wife and I have never owned one, choosing to deprive the kids …). That too was in Edmonton (Garneau) before we moved to the coast when I was still a kid.

    • How great is this? Thank you my friend! I think it’s awesome that you and I seem to hail from the same area. I am so happy you had a chance to pop by today, and many thanks for leaving us your great comments here, I appreciate that so very much!

  14. avatar ChrisdMRF says:

    Love this Toad. Items were made to be seen in those days not just looked at.

  15. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. It’s hard to believe that we actually had to get up to change the channel. And I bet advertising was more succesful back then because we were too lazy to turn the channel when they came on. Nice job processing these to give them that vintage feel.

    • Thank you SO much Steven, your fabulous comments here means the world to me! I totally agree with you, my friend… it’s funny, since Mrs. Toad and I got our PVR a couple years ago, I don’t think we’ve seen more than 10 commercials. Interesting that you should reference this in your comments here.. I completely agree! Thank you, my friend!

  16. avatar Jim Nix says:

    You’re a Springsteen fan too? He’s my favorite. Great reference there. Lovely shots Toad, great write up too and do you think things have changed for the better?? Hard to tell sometimes, isn’t it? Great work my friend, as always.

    • Hi Jim, thank you so much for your visit & comments here! You know, this is a question I ask myself frequently as we go about our work here. Some things have definitely made life better. Online banking is a great example of this. Other things, I’m not so sure about. One thing I DO know is as I get older, I really enjoy reflecting on these historical and classical things that we love to photograph. Thanks ever so kindly for your visit my friend, that really means so much to us here!

  17. avatar Rachel Cohen says:

    Thank you Toad you have such a great way of telling a story! It really brought back memories for me. We used to put tinfoil on our rabbit ears to try to get better reception, even going so far as using the occasional coat hanger LOL!
    I can certainly relate to reflecting on those things in our history and personal past, as I get older too!
    Wonderful post and images my friend!

    • So many thanks for your kind visit & comments Rachel, we truly appreciate it! We used to have coathangers, too, for our rabbit ears! I love how this post has brought us together in reminiscing about things from the past! Many thanks for all your support and friendship!

  18. avatar Adam Allegro says:

    Fantastic post Toad. Love these “antiques”. I am only 29 but they make me feel old!! Wonderful work. Can’t wait to see more.

  19. avatar Tom Barnett says:

    Really love this post, Toad. I was just thinking about this very notion the other day. That sense of security from familiarity. Wonderful post.