Going to the pictures at the local theatre was an exciting part of our childhood. We were mesmerised by film on the large screen. Musicals, epic sagas, drama and action filled our imaginations with glimpses into other worlds brought to us from Hollywood and England. In the 1950s, audiences stood as the then national anthem of New Zealand, God Save the Queen, was played. We viewed cartoons and newsreels before making a mad dash to buy ice-cream during the interval and were resettled in our seats to view the feature film.
After the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, it was a big undertaking for our rural primary school to arrange to take us as a school group to the theatre in town to view a special newsreel showing of this event for pupils of local schools. Still images in print media kept could not compete with filmed sound and action.
The first time I viewed the small screen was in 1960. A black and white television set had pride of place in my great-grandmother’s home in Auckland. My siblings and I remember we sat riveted by Robin Hood‘s adventures, stories we knew well from reading. We loved the novelty of small screen entertainment in the home. It was to be several years before Mum and Dad thought about buying a television set for our household. The costs of paying cash for a television licence and for a television set were considerable when there was a family to support. The viewing hours and broadcasting coverage in New Zealand were limited in the early 1960s. My brother and I had left school and home by the time my parents acquired their first television set. Probably a wise move on their part. No disputes to settle over which programme to watch.
In February 1966 the average price of a 23-inch black and white television ‘consolette’ was £131, equivalent to nearly $5000 today.
Time moves on. Retailers display a range of monitors and screens of different sizes that are deemed essential to help us to enjoy our lives to the fullest. Real time viewing happens. Data plans and viewing options are available to suit our needs and wants and we can pay by credit card. I no longer entertain the thought of not having a smart screen in my home and in my hand.