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Ask Slashdot: Sounds We Don't Hear Any More? 790

J. L. Tympanum writes: While discussing music with my 24-year old son, the Typewriter Song (Leroy Anderson) came up. Within 10 seconds he had it playing on his laptop, but he didn't really get the joke because he had never seen a typewriter, nor heard the characteristics sounds — the clack of the keys, the end-of-line bell, the zip of the carriage return — that the typewriter makes. What other sounds do we not hear any more? More points for the longer they lasted (typewriters were around for over a century).
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Ask Slashdot: Sounds We Don't Hear Any More?

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  • by the_rajah ( 749499 ) * on Saturday January 10, 2015 @09:02PM (#48783819) Homepage
    The sound of a teletype machine [youtube.com]. I had a model 15 in my bedroom when I was in High School back in the 60s. It was connected to my shortwave ham radio rig. I used it to converse with other hams around the world. I could also tune in on Reuters news and weather bureau reports. Later, I worked as an Engineer at a radio station. A model 15 was how we got our news from the AP wire.
    • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Saturday January 10, 2015 @09:13PM (#48783879)

      It has been a long time since I have answered the phone, and heard the tone from a misdialed fax machine. Fax machines aren't completely dead, but they are far less common than they used to be. I think only lawyers are bureaucrats still use them.

      • by Gareth Iwan Fairclough ( 2831535 ) on Saturday January 10, 2015 @09:37PM (#48784037)

        It has been a long time since I have answered the phone, and heard the tone from a misdialed fax machine. Fax machines aren't completely dead, but they are far less common than they used to be. I think only lawyers are bureaucrats still use them.

        They're still used pretty extensively in the British military, especially when it comes to the logistical arms. We used them a lot when we had to get paper work sent out to the upstream depot ASAP for top priority supply demands. Everything else was sent via the computer systems, but as those systems sent stuff off in batches at a particular time of day, we needed a way of bypassing the "batch cycle" as we called it and getting the top priority stuff dealt with immediately.

      • by Mal-2 ( 675116 ) on Saturday January 10, 2015 @11:18PM (#48784697) Homepage Journal

        How many people have actual mechanical-ringer phones any more? I have one specifically for the purpose of being heard anywhere in the house, but don't actually use it to talk.

        • by the_rajah ( 749499 ) * on Saturday January 10, 2015 @11:36PM (#48784775) Homepage
          I have a couple of them, one a 500 series rotary dial with a switch for two lines, the other is a 320 series phone from 1947, obviously rotary dial and also with a two line switch. They both work fine. The grandkids are fascinated with the rotary dial.
          • Up here, those phones wouldn't even work anymore, at least not without a converter. The telephone company stopped supporting pulse dialing almost 3 years ago.

            • by rnturn ( 11092 )

              ``The telephone company stopped supporting pulse dialing almost 3 years ago.''

              We must have just beaten the cutoff date when that nasty thunderstorm took out our power for a couple of days about then. Our only means of communication was to use an ancient Radio Shack pulse-dialing phone (no... we hadn't dumped our land line yet) or spend enough time at a local coffee shop charging a cellphone. The trouble we had using that phone during the time the power was out wasn't whether the phone company was acceptin

          • When I was a kid, I made a phone out of an old radio, a tape recorder microphone and a telegraph key. It didn't work well, but it was kind of fun.

    • pidib pidip pidip pdawww... Or something like that as it wrote each line. And then the paper feed. And sometimes it furiously printing in both directions....
      http://everything2.com/title/D... [everything2.com]

      One on YouTube:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

      Hard to explain to my kid that you needed lots of sheets of fanfold paper when you wanted to use "the computer".

    • Remember the nightly news with Walter Cronkite? There was always a teletype running in the background to let you know it was a news show.
  • Steam Engines (Score:5, Informative)

    by McGruber ( 1417641 ) on Saturday January 10, 2015 @09:03PM (#48783821)
    • Most lines are welded now, so it doesn't happen any more
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I think he was referring to the chuff of the piston valves. You're thinking of clickity-clack.

        Hey, McGruber! The Cumbres & Toltec is waiting for you. Ball's in your court...

      • by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <mashiki@gm a i l .com> on Saturday January 10, 2015 @10:13PM (#48784289) Homepage

        Guess you don't live in a cold part of the world in the winter, or where it can hit 35C+ in the summer. Around here in Canada, we use 30-50m segments that aren't welded because the tracks shrink and expand so much. Once the temps drop to -20C here, you can lose over an 3cm, and once it gets over 35C with the train's on them they can expand over 10cm causing them to warp off the bed.

        So if I walk outside, the next time a train goes by I can hear it hit every clack clearly. Since it's around -20C right now, I can hear it inside my house about 300m away if I pay attention.

        • When I lived in Alaska I could tell how cold it was based on the time it took for my snots to freeze up my nose.

          7F is when it starts. By 0F or -24C it freeze instantly. Same with my Windows fogging up after I leave my heated garage. Usually in the lower 48 and lower Canada this would change based on humidity but at sub zero temperatures it fogged at the right time every time based on the current heat as it was dry

      • by srmalloy ( 263556 ) on Sunday January 11, 2015 @12:42AM (#48785059) Homepage

        Most lines are welded now, so it doesn't happen any more.

        Not the same way, or as often, but you still get the clack as you go over a rail joint; they're just expansion joints [wikipedia.org] and less common. I recall a problem that I ran across in high school, that posited a one-mile continuous length of railroad track, and asked 'if the track expands by one inch, and buckles rigidly, so that it bends only at the middle, and is otherwise straight, how far off the ground is the rail at its midpoint?' The answer is, surprisingly, almost 15 feet (do the math: Pythagorean theorem, hypotenuse 1/2 mile + 1/2 inch, one side 1/2 mile, solve for third side). And you'll still get the rail clacking going over points and frogs in areas where you have switches.

  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Saturday January 10, 2015 @09:04PM (#48783831) Journal

    I always knew that one day I'd no longer be able to know a CRT was in the room from the high-pitched flyback transformer sound, but I always expected it would be because of my own loss of high-frequency hearing. But the CRT pretty much disappeared before that. Length of time: less than the telephone.

    • by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Saturday January 10, 2015 @09:44PM (#48784077) Homepage Journal

      Good riddance to CRTs. I always hated that sound. Every so often when I go to an office that has an old TV running, ugh. That sound always drove me nuts.
      When composite-input TVs came out my dad would leave the TV on with the cable box and VCR off and I'd ask him why the TV is still on. He'd say "it's not on." It most definitely was and that annoying whine was driving me batty.

      I used to take apart my TVs to put baffling in to cancel out that sound. I am 43 now and I can still hear past 17.5KHz. Why? Because it was drilled into me by my mom to not blast my ears with headphones, and when using power tools I use hearing protection. I have an even greater appreciation for my hearing now because once I got a sinus infection so bad it spread to both ears and I had 95%+ hearing loss for more than three months when my inner and middle ears filled with fluid, and there was so much pressure it perforated my eardrums, so I'm even more strict about hearing protection having experienced near-total deafness for an extended period. Since then certain frequencies cause some pain due to reverberation because those frequencies seem to be amplified to me - it may be due to scar tissue where my ear drums perforated or something, I don't know and haven't bothered to find out.

      But flyback transformer whine? Ugh. Same with PC power supplies that are going bad - they have a very similar high pitch whine. When I go to my old office to maintain the servers for my partners, I need to stay out of the lobby because the power supply whines like mad. No one else in the office can hear it.

      • by leathered ( 780018 ) on Saturday January 10, 2015 @11:12PM (#48784659)

        I'm using a CRT monitor right now, a 21" IBM P275 with a Trinitron tube. Right now I'm enjoying near perfect color reproduction, blacks that are actually black, zero input lag, no ghosting, nothing that resembles backlight bleed and no stuck/dead pixels. Haven't noticed flyback whine for years but that's probably down to my age. LCD is still inferior to CRT in many ways and you have to wonder what CRTs we would have today if development had continued. LCD has also taken a step backwards recently with the introduction of LED backlights, they make for thinner panels and lower power consumption but uniformity of many recent panels is really poor.

        Having said that, my CRT will probably have to go this year, most probably late in the spring when the heat the thing generates is no longer welcome. My desk is also sagging from the weight of it sitting there for nine years.

        • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Sunday January 11, 2015 @01:33AM (#48785245)

          Right now I'm enjoying near perfect color reproduction, blacks that are actually black, zero input lag, no ghosting, nothing that resembles backlight bleed and no stuck/dead pixels.

          I'm experiencing the same except for the wider colour gamut, better contrast ratio, and far sharper picture that comes from spending more than $50 on a modern LCD.

          CRTs haven't outperformed common LCDs for about 5-10 years, and even in the early days if you actually bought a proper LCD like an NEC Spectraview you ended up with something that no CRT could match. Go shopping somewhere other than Wallmart when your CRT finally dies and you'll hate yourself for having lived with that garbage so long. Check out some high-end offerings from all those same companies that produced high-end CRTs for colour critical applications back in the day like Eizo, or NEC, (they are still in the business and they are also the source for panels used in medical imaging etc if you like colour accuracy) and don't base your view of technology on what you somewhat throws at you during Black Friday sales.

          I had a high end trinitron screen as well. It was a great screen back in the day but I don't miss it.

    • by jiriw ( 444695 ) on Sunday January 11, 2015 @05:52AM (#48785973) Homepage

      Also typical CRT noise: The Degaussing Powowowowowoing when switching it on (or whenever you liked to do it at the touch of a button on some models).

  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Saturday January 10, 2015 @09:04PM (#48783833)
    we didn't record them when we had the chance.
  • by Nighttime ( 231023 ) on Saturday January 10, 2015 @09:06PM (#48783845) Homepage Journal

    Nerrrrr! Squawk! BONG! BONG! BONG! Scrrrrch! Doot!

  • Dial-up (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Arkh89 ( 2870391 )

    Dial-up connection sound.
    Somewhat recent...

  • Shorter span then the typewriter I believe. My dad had one up to the 1960's.
    • My stepdad had an electric powered (!) mechanical adding machine in his basement. I would confuse it by having it try to divide zero by zero, that thing would run for hours trying to figure out the answer.
      • by msauve ( 701917 )
        "I would confuse it by having it try to divide zero by zero, that thing would run for hours trying to figure out the answer."

        I think that there are medicines to treat that these days.
  • A beeper/pager going off. A pay phone ringing on a sidewalk.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 10, 2015 @09:20PM (#48783917)

    With almost every TV station broadcasting 24x7, you don't hear these sounds much anymore.

    Duration: presumably from the 1940s or 1950s throught at least the 1980s.

  • Cha Ching (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 10, 2015 @09:20PM (#48783921)

    Cash registers haven't made the Cha Ching sound in a long time. Yet people still say, "Cha Ching!" when they encounter a monetary windfall. I wonder how many of them don't even realize its onomatopoeic origin.

  • The sound of a line printer spewing out paper a line at a time. LPD "on fire"

  • Laying claim to all our copyrights. Rumor has it he was killed by a pack of rabid raccoons back in '06.
  • Videocassette (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Snard ( 61584 ) <mike,shawaluk&gmail,com> on Saturday January 10, 2015 @09:27PM (#48783979) Homepage

    That funny sound the videocassette makes when you push it in the VCR, and the tape winds around the drum, and finally it starts playing.

  • by sk999 ( 846068 ) on Saturday January 10, 2015 @09:29PM (#48783991)

    The scratching sound of a quill pen against paper - done in by the typewriter.

    The sound of a hammer and chisel carving Latin into marble tablets - done in by the quill pen and paper.

    The squishy sound of a reed stylus forming cuneiform symbols in clay tablets - done in by hammer and chisel.

    Don't know if any of them had a song.

  • Mimeograph (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Snotnose ( 212196 ) on Saturday January 10, 2015 @09:29PM (#48783995)
    My dad used to go to church Saturday to mimeograph the Sunday bulletin. I still remember the smell and sound of that thing.
  • Easy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by R3d M3rcury ( 871886 ) on Saturday January 10, 2015 @09:29PM (#48783997) Journal

    Rotary phone.

  • Floppy drives (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bunratty ( 545641 ) on Saturday January 10, 2015 @09:30PM (#48784001)
    I haven't heard floppy drives for a while. Also, dot matrix printers. And the sound of rotary telephones as you're dialing them [youtube.com]. Actually, Mental Floss [mentalfloss.com] had an article about this.
  • "Snap-ah-ah" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Saturday January 10, 2015 @09:30PM (#48784003) Homepage

    "As he relaxed, he was pierced by the familiar and irritating rattle of some one cranking a Ford: snap-ah-ah, snap-ah-ah, snap-ah-ah. Himself a pious motorist, Babbitt cranked with the unseen driver, with him waited through taut hours for the roar of the starting engine, with him agonized as the roar ceased and again began the infernal patient snap-ah-ahâ"a round, flat sound, a shivering cold-morning sound, a sound infuriating and inescapable. Not till the rising voice of the motor told him that the Ford was moving was he released from the panting tension."--Sinclair Lewis, "Babbitt"

  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Saturday January 10, 2015 @09:35PM (#48784027) Homepage

    The very characteristic rattle of a motion picture projector--most familiar from 16 mm projectors in classrooms or 8 mm projectors showing home movies, but also faintly audible in many movie theatres. Probably around 1900 to 1980 or so.

    The whine of a reel-to-reel tape recorder rewinding, rising in pitch as the diameter of the remaining tape decrees, followed by the dramatic snapping noise as the end of the tape comes off the reel. 1945 to 1990 maybe.

  • by endoboy ( 560088 ) on Saturday January 10, 2015 @09:35PM (#48784031)

    clippety clop

  • Lost sounds (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Saturday January 10, 2015 @09:37PM (#48784045)
    The distinctive whine of an old SCSI drive. The whir-whir-whir-whir-click of a tape cassette rewinding. The flappity-flappity of a movie reel that has gone through the projector. Cha-chunk of a slide projector. The sound old beer cans used to make when ripped open. Dot-matrix printers. Floppy drives. Floppy drives forced to make "music".
    • Static on the TV preceding thunder (now it just pixelates).
    • Re:Lost sounds (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Saturday January 10, 2015 @09:56PM (#48784171)
      Soon, the distinctive "tink" when a lightbulb filament breaks.
    • by erice ( 13380 ) on Sunday January 11, 2015 @03:34AM (#48785573) Homepage

      Reach the end of a roll of film and it auto-rewinds with distinctive hum.

      From a travelogue I wrote in 2003:

      As the light started to dim and elephant to disperse, I heard a familiar hum. The film has reached its end and was now returning to the start. I felt a sense of completeness. Previously, I had toyed with the idea of visiting one of Bangkok's inevitably overtouristed sites. But that now seemed wrong. A rushed viewing of an overcrowded temple in a polluted city was not a fitting close for an epic Asian adventure. Better to stop here, at the last frame of the roll. To end with elephants.

      It was the last photo that camera ever took. Digital cameras today emulate some of the noises of film: film advance, mirror clack (even for those that have no mirrors), but not rewind.

      Actually rewind sounds of all kinds have mostly disappeared. Reel to Reel, audio cassette, VCR tape. Backup tape rewind still happens but not many hear it anymore.

  • by bheading ( 467684 ) on Saturday January 10, 2015 @09:43PM (#48784067)

    Like this [youtu.be].

  • by Aphadon ( 3402087 ) on Saturday January 10, 2015 @09:43PM (#48784075)
    The Museum of Endangered Sounds [savethesounds.info] has a lot of great examples of this.
  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Saturday January 10, 2015 @09:46PM (#48784091) Homepage

    Up until perhaps about the year 2000, almost everything electronic with a speaker that plugged into the wall, except for really good audiophile equipment, had a faint 60 Hz. hum audible during periods of silence in the program material. One easily learned to ignore it, but it was there. (It was very hard to avoid it in phonograph cartridges, for example).

    The ubiquity of 60-Hz hum (or 60-cycle hum as it was called then) was the basis of a plot point in Theodore Sturgeon's psychoanalytic SF story, "The Other Man," for example.

  • by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Saturday January 10, 2015 @09:56PM (#48784175)

    A space shuttle liftoff
    And before that a Saturn V liftoff

  • Animal calls (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Shadow of Eternity ( 795165 ) on Saturday January 10, 2015 @10:10PM (#48784273)

    Cheetahs, tigers, rhinos... the list goes on.

  • How about the clip-clop of horse's hooves on cobblestones? Or does it have to be things that became rare in our lifetime?

    If the latter I'd go with the sound of a telephone bell. The mechanical ringing bell that was on so many different models of phones.

    What do I win?

  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Saturday January 10, 2015 @10:42PM (#48784457)
    any kind of bells.
  • Rotary phone (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LynnwoodRooster ( 966895 ) on Saturday January 10, 2015 @10:46PM (#48784489) Journal
    The clicking as the dial came back to rest...
  • by bistromath007 ( 1253428 ) on Saturday January 10, 2015 @10:47PM (#48784495)
    Stuart Ashen put up a video a while ago showing off an obscure 80s construction toy that came with a cassette tape telling the ridiculawesome Saturday-morning cartoon style backstory of the characters you could build with it.

    He realized at one point it was just repeating the same text in the booklet, and fast-forwarded to make sure.

    Some fucking kid in the comments asked why he "added that annoying fake fast-forwarding sound." I think I cried a little.
  • by BoRegardless ( 721219 ) on Saturday January 10, 2015 @10:47PM (#48784497)

    Adding Machines were ubiquitous growing up in offices & flash bulbs in your Kodak Brownie were the norm.

  • by afgam28 ( 48611 ) on Saturday January 10, 2015 @11:05PM (#48784621)

    For example:

    The Windows 95 startup sound - https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    The ICQ uh-oh sound - https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    RIngtones, notification sounds and alarms from old phones that we no longer use. I've found that I can still instantly recognize sounds from handsets that I haven't used in years, even old versions of Android (e.g. the default alarm clock from my Nexus S running Gingerbread).

  • Spanish Guitar (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Saturday January 10, 2015 @11:37PM (#48784781)

    and introducing acoustic guitar
    Tubular Bells

    Yep, its been over 40 years since Mike Oldfield released his first album

  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Saturday January 10, 2015 @11:48PM (#48784839) Homepage Journal

    The CLUNK CLUNK CLUNK of an old VHF tuner knob.

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Saturday January 10, 2015 @11:52PM (#48784861)
    "The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel"... On my kid's TV a dead channel is blue now.
  • Line printers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Phil Karn ( 14620 ) <karn AT ka9q DOT net> on Sunday January 11, 2015 @01:27AM (#48785225) Homepage
    Others have already mentioned the dot-matrix printer, but there was a big one before that: the high speed line printer. They were too expensive for individuals, but they certainly were a familiar sound to 1970s programming students like me.

    There were two main types: the drum printer and the chain printer. The drum printer was cheaper and therefore much more common. The drum, which contained all the characters in a given font, rotated once for each row printed. An entire row was printed simultaneously; a separate solenoid-driven hammer in each column fired at the right instant to print the desired character in that column. You could easily tell from across the room whether your program had failed to compile or if execution ended with a core (!) dump. The burst pages between jobs had their own highly characteristic sound.

    A related sound is that of ripping fanfold line printer paper to separate jobs. Who uses any kind of fanfold paper these days? Or even paper...?

    Oh, and let's not forget the sound of the Hollerith (IBM punch card) reader...

  • Tree branches ringing against each other like crystal bells after an ice storm. Once every 1 or 2 years in Northern New Jersey we would have an ice storm. It would completely coat trees in a thick layer if solid ice. The next day the world would be utterly silent, save for the tinkling and chiming of branches as unsern breezes would bang them against each other. For that matter, simply walking unplowed snowy streets with hardly anyone around, snow crunching underfoot is very rare to me. But I think due to global warming perhaps we don't get ice storms that crystallize the tree branches, or the 3 feet of snow I remember.

  • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Sunday January 11, 2015 @05:42AM (#48785949) Homepage

    Sounds I don't hear any more: anything above 10kHz.

  • by dbrower ( 114953 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @02:08AM (#48790997) Journal
    The first practical TV remote was the Zenith Space Command, which worked by whacking resonant bars, and the TV would pick up the sound. The thing vibrated in your hand, and as kids we swore we could hear them, even if technically ultrasonic.

God is real, unless declared integer.