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Technological inflation...

My old 28" Sony Wega tv died last Monday, I think I'd had it for about 15 years, so I reckon I got my moneys' worth for it (I just did a search on Google and I see one sold on ebay for 99p a couple of years ago - buyer collects!). It was a bit of a monster, an old CRT Trinitron tv which weighed 44 kg, so it was a bit of a struggle just to shift it.

Anyway, I decided to get fully up to date, so I splashed out around £500 on a 42" Panasonic flatscreen HD smart tv, which was delivered yesterday, and I must say I'm very impressed - it only weighs 13.5 kg for a start, and there's umpteen Freeview channels including HD (even if I only ever actually watch a dozen or so of them), together with iPlayer, YouTube, etc....

All this impressive technology made me start thinking about the first TV that I remember - a 17" Pye Continental that my parents bought 5 months before I was born, and which we had until I was about 14. Thanks to the miracle of the Internet, and radiomuseum.org, I discovered that when it was new in 1957 it cost 81 guineas (i.e. £85/1/0, or £85.05 in newfangled decimal money). Apparently that converts to just under £1700 in today's purchasing power, which really makes you think about what inflation has done over the years - I remember my Dad writing a cheque for £75 in around 1970, which was for six months' rent on our 44-acre farm. That old Pye Continental wasn't even particularly reliable - many's the time it died and we needed to call out a tv engineer to change a valve (fortunately one of my mum's cousins was a tv engineer, so I suspect we didn't have to pay the usual labour charges!), and there was a panel on the front behind which were some knobs to control the horizontal hold, vertical hold, contrast, and brightness - I remember I was the only one in the family who had a sufficiently sensitive touch on the horizontal hold that I could stop the picture rolling once it started going off! I vividly remember one summer Saturday afternoon when I was about 8 or 9, when I was playing in the farmyard and had one sandal off my foot when the cry came from the house "Arwel, come and fix the telly, quick!" as the picture was rolling and Dad couldn't watch his favourite wrestling on World of Sport... so I had to hop up the garden path to the house to stop the picture. Ah, they don't make tellies like that any more, thank God... and those were the days when you could only get two channels to watch - BBC tv from Leeds on channel 2, and Granada tv from Manchester on channel 9 (well we were only about 5 miles from the main transmitter for northeast Wales at Moel-y-Parc, but there was a badly-sited mountain between us, so if we tried to watch BBC Wales on channel 6 or TWW (later HTV) on channel 11, you quickly got a headache from all the snow on the picture and white noise on the sound - the only time we ever watched Welsh tv was if there was a Welsh language programme my parents particularly wanted to watch (rare) or a major event - I remember seeing the Aberfan disaster coverage in 1966).

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