Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

The Ancient Trinitron Bites the Dust

baybryj told me exactly how it would happen: One day I would turn on the television set and there would be a faint click and then a thin bright line, but no picture. Picture tubes have a finite shelf life, and my 19-inch 1980 Sony Trinitron was already well past standard.

When bconn first saw my tv, he made some comment about my cool old tv and I thought, "Wait a minute! This is my new tv! I got it in ... um ... oh yeah, 1980." This was the first purchase I made after getting a credit card of my own. When I got it, I thought it was an amazing deal at $450, because usually those sets were $900 or so at the time -- these were the best color sets you could get, and one of the reasons I have never replaced it is because this old set has better color than any of the new ones I see, still to this day. Er, actually to this yesterday.

One of my more vivid memories is buying that tv on a snowy day and trying to get the huge cumbersome box to my car, which was a VW bug and I couldn't fit the tv in the car until I hit upon the idea of removing it from the box (amidst heavy falling wet snow out in a vast parking lot).

Oh, and I should have suspected the half-price deal, because Sony Trinitrons never went on sale. Soon after purchasing mine I started seeing them advertised all over for a similar price. The reason? The model was being discontinued: It has no remote control and is not cable-ready. In 1980, if you were going to spend a thousand dollars on a tv (what would be the equivalent today?), you were not going to settle for no remote control. I didn't think I cared, and for decades I didn't, but I admit that I have actually gotten lazy enough through the years to wish I could turn the set off (or at least mute the sound) while sitting in my comfy chair.

A tv of this age makes hooking up VCRs and DVD players problematic. I think I paid more for the DVD-converter box than for the DVD player.

We did not have a color tv in my house when I was growing up, so just having color at all was a source of mesmerizing fascination for me. I would watch absolutely anything for the first several months after purchasing the set. This was my COLOR tv! The World is a Carousel of Color (wonderful, wonderful color...). Color tvs were this amazing magical thing of the future, when I was a child, and now I owned one! The future was here!

When we nagged our parents to get a color tv (as of course we did), my father would tell us that we couldn't afford one. I accepted this explanation at face value, and never even considered the contradiction that we couldn't afford a color tv but our maid could. One year we actually went to her house to watch the annual broadcast of the Wizard of Oz.

Many years later, well into adulthood, the subject of our black and white childhood came up and my father repeated the line he had given us back then, nuance for nuance, noting that we couldn't afford a color tv then. I noted that I used to believe him when he said that, even though Lillian had a color TV. "Well," said my mother, "Lillian was colored." She said this in a whisper, lest the offensive-joke police were lurking nearby. My father added, "If it costs five cents and you don't need it, you can't afford it," which is actually not a bad recovery.

Target was still open when I came home from my Morris team's danceout last night (with Uptown-on-Calhoun), so I made a quick stop and discovered that some tv's are pretty darn cheap right now because in two years the broadcast standards are changing and these sets will be outmoded. (There is a "consumer alert" posted near these models.) Good. I bought a 20" set for less than 1/3 the price I paid in 1980 (but it's not a Sony Trinitron!) and I have two years to consider my Home Entertainment Center options.

I'll set things up tonight. I am certain I will be disappointed.
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