Old television sets get no respect

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

The old-fashioned tube TV sets were heavy and bulky. It took two of us to put them out to the curb, hoping that someone would pick them up, or the city would haul them away.

Neither happened.

For generations, they were the center of attention in our living rooms. Now, they are lost in a sea of signals made up of zeros and ones, which they cannot understand.

They can only receive analogue signals, which no longer exist unless someone uses a converter box. Their picture quality, which was good enough for many decades, now is considered inferior. High definition rules the land now, soon to be pushed aside by 4K.

After that, who knows? Perhaps 3Ds without the special glasses, holograms, or something that we have not even thought of yet.

It started to rain heavily, and the old TVs were getting soaked. This is the thanks they get for bringing us the latest news, entertainment shows and sports. This is the treatment they get for slaving away year after year, trouble-free.

There was nothing wrong with them before the rain, except that the signal they were built to receive had changed. I was hoping that some enthusiast would swoop down and pick them up for parts, or store them away until they would become true antiques and then put them on eBay and make a nice profit.
It was wishful thinking.

With the slim digital TV sets becoming dirt cheap, and their screens expanding to sizes that a few years ago would not have been affordable by the average family, these 25-inch televisions sets now rank as junk.

When I was a poor kid, growing up in a big, dirty city, I was watching the baseball playoffs on one of those 25-inch color TV sets. It was on display in a store window, and I was on my way home from school. There were about a dozen people alongside me.

At home, we had a 19-inch black and white set with rabbit ears. The color TV in the store was so much brighter and bigger.

A few months later, one of those 25-inch color sets was sitting in my living room, bought from that same store on credit. It was $500, and we made payments every payday.

It was one of those consoles with a wooden case. We polished it weekly. It was the nicest piece of furniture in the room. When it got so old that it could no longer be fixed, my mother bought another color TV and set it on top of the old console. She didn’t have the heart to throw it away. It was probably one of the last models still made with vacuum tubes inside.

I spent countless hours in front of that set as it brought the world into our living room in “living color.” Everything looked good on it, even the shows broadcast in black and white, or monochrome.

We didn’t care that we could see the tiny color dots on the screen as they formed the picture. That’s just the way it was. TV pictures were supposed to have those dots. I’d rather looked at the color dots than the monochrome dots.

All the shows then changed over to color, but monochrome sets could continue to pick up the new signal. There was no need to throw out all those perfectly good televisions.

Then digital broadcasts began.

I left the old sets out by the curb for over a week. It was sad to see them get drenched and basically die on electronic death as the water destroyed theirs components.

“Why don’t you take them down to a resale shop and get a few dollars for them,” asked a neighbor before the rain started.

“Nobody is going to buy them,” I replied. “The problem is how to get rid of them.”

That’s what it has come down to.

I’ll wait for the next hazardous materials and electronics disposal event at the Brazoria County Fairgrounds, and take both out there, along with a couple of others I have in storage. That will give them a proper send-off, at least as proper as it gets.

Meanwhile, they’ll just take up space.

It’s time to watch the Houston Astros on my 55-inch HD set. Now I can’t believe that we used to watch those tiny screens and all those dots for all those years. This is the way to watch sports.

Wait, look at this ad – 70-inch screen, measured diagonally. Now that I think of it, that 55-incher looks a little small.