Buggy Whips, Betamax Etc.

The 1991 film “Other People’s Money” starred Gregory Peck and Danny DeVito. It was  about “corporate raiders” and the hostile takeover of the fictitious New England Wire & Cable Corporation.

Most of the people in the small New England town worked for this company.  Trouble ensued in the corporate ranks in advance of the shareholder meeting.  Gregory Peck, (Andrew Jorgy Jorgenson), as the CEO of the company made an impassioned plea about the proud traditions of American manufacturing versus the perils of the new capitalism.

Danny DeVito, (Lawrence Garfield, aka, Larry the Liquidator),  targeted New England Wire & Cable as his latest acquisition.  His presentation to the stockholders compared New England Wire & Cable to the last “Buggy Whip” manufacturer.  Their product was obsolete.  Stockholders should sell out and get value while they still could.  There was no longer a market for buggy whips.  Even if you’re the best buggy whip manufacturer it’s a moot point.  Move ahead with the times.

“Sir, would you like a Betamax to go with your “Buggy whip?” “…A payphone?” “They’re free.” “Sorry, I’m just not interested.” Where have all the payphones gone?  There’s no market for them.  They’ve gone the way of the buggy whip.  Every corner used to have one.  Cell phones and personal communication devices led to their demise.  I’m retired from working for one of the original Bell System Companies.

The entire industry has been in a state of upheaval since the government ordered breakup of 1983.  I made a good living and enjoyed my work.  Most of my career I worked on installation and repair of landlines.  I had the opportunity to specialize in the installation and repair of payphones.  I jumped at the chance.  Several of my associates doubted the wisdom of my decision.  Landlines were always going to be around they said.

Change is the only thing we can count on.  I could see the handwriting on the wall for payphones.  I wasn’t naive enough to think the same thing wouldn’t happen to home phone service.  Cellular telephones kept getting better–smaller and smaller.  Now many people exclusively use cell phones and don’t even have landlines.  Landlines will continue to have their place.  They will be used for special applications that require high security.

What’s next in personal communications?  Satellite phones? Implanted communication devices?  Mild mannered reporter for “The Daily Planet,” Clark Kent, always changed clothes and transformed into comic book hero “Superman” in a phone booth.  Today, he would have to find another changing room.  Maybe the “U-Serve Self Storage” down the street?  Maybe I was one of the last “buggy whip” repairmen?  I tried to be the best one I knew how to be.

Author: warturoadam77p

70 year old married retired communications worker with three grown children, transplanted from the Midwest to the sunny Gulf Coast.

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