5 sounds that are pretty much extinct

Dec, 01, 2018

Remember the Pacman theme tune? The SHHHHCRRRRRRGHHHH! of a dial up modem? The electronic twang of the original Nokia 3210 ringtone?

Alas, they're the aural equivalent of the white rhino - tragically endangered, if not extinct. There's even an online museum devoted to their preservation. In the words of the founder, these old sounds 'take us back to a time when our lives were simpler'.

How many of these do you remember?

1. The dial up modem

Once upon a time - we'll one day tell the children of the twenty-first century - the Internet was analogue. Analogue, they'll ask? Well - you had to dial another computer by piggybacking on the copper network of phone lines. The dial up modem cleverly used sound waves to carry data across the phone network, and the high pitched squeaks and hesitant beeps you heard while connecting weren't just the sound of that data: they were the data itself. Pretty mind-blowing, really... from our wireless, seamless, terabits-per-second vantage point.

2. The cassette tape

Remember tapes? The clack of the play, pause and stop/eject buttons, the whir and hiss of the spindles, the flat, low quality audio (that's what happens when you try to fit lots of music onto magnetic ribbon an eighth of an inch wide). If that brings back fond memories, you were clearly a teenager sometime between the sixties and the early nineties. Alas, the cassette came to its crackly end with the advent of CDs.

3. TV static

HISS! HISSSHH! Commonly referred to as 'noise', TV static was a mainstay of the analogue broadcast era. Caused by electromagnetic interference accidentally picked up by the antenna while no other transmission was being received, 'noise' looked like snow and sounded like - well, noise.

4. The Nokia ringtone

If you had a mobile phone around the turn of the millennium, you probably had a Nokia, and if you had a Nokia, you probably had Grande Valse as your ringtone. Written in 1902 by Spanish composer Francisco Tárrega, the tune was purchased ninety-one years later by Nokia executives and trimmed into a 4-bar phrase that became instantly recognisable pretty much immediately.

5. The typewriter

Long before the advent of the lightweight world of mobile computing (or in fact, computing at all), writing used to sound like real physical work. The clack of keys, the little bell to warn you of the line break, the rough clunk as you moved the carriage back to the starting point... it was as if the typewriter generated its own soundtrack as you went.

Audiologist testing the man's hearing.

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