The Great Nineties Television Set

What you forget these days is that back in the nineties, entertainment devices were judged on size. This is a pre USB time, with chunky plugs and wide dimensions. You played your music on massive sculptures of plastic and metal, containing three different formats and a radio. Speakers were as big as they were loud.

Videos were the beefcakes of cinematic world, and a respectable person crammed them on their shelves in hundreds. You needed extra bookshelves even after you had thrown away your books. 

My Dad worked on televisions. Back then they were the width of fridges. One year he worked late every evening on his ‘new device.’

‘It’s getting bigger,’ he’d say every evening over dinner.

One day. my friend Mickey and I sat in the living room, listening to music on gigantic speakers. Mickey loved my house. We always had the latest kit. Suddenly Dad burst through the door, pushing along something five foot high, and covered in a dust sheet.

'This is it boys, this is the one!’ he said. 

He whipped off the sheet. Underneath was a large black box the size of a washing machine, with twisted brass horns on either side. The cable out the back was as thick as a ponytail, and a long fleshy crank stuck out one side.

'One day boys, this will be in every home in the world.’ My Dad said. 'What do you want to watch?’

'Cartoons!’ We cried. 

'Cartoons!’ My Dad chorused back, and spun the hand so fast his hand blurred. With fizzing noise, the lights in the house dimmed.

A huge cartoon cat filled the box, dancing on an animated stage. The colours were so vivid, I was sure I could put my hand through and stroke him. A jangly tune played with the volume of a thousand orchestras. 

Our jaws dropped at the sheer scale. And I do mean that literally. I tried to close my mouth, but it remained wedged open. The cat danced, and our bodies ached. We simply couldn’t move. 

Dad got worried after fifteen minutes. He rocked one of Mickey’s legs. Slapped me around the face. We remained cross legged statues, staring at the screen.

He fetched Mum in the end. She got Grandpa’s old axe. But this was the age of bigger and better. It took fifty blows before the box finally cracked, and the music died. By that point our muscles screamed from cramp, and our tongues were dried and useless. 

Technology got smaller after that.