Technology Then & Now

I recently took my daughter to the Rollo Jamison Museum in Platteville, Wisconsin. She attended a field trip there last week where she learned about the local history and German holiday customs. I’m always curious about local history, so I brought Jenna back for a more in-depth exploration. Upon entering Saturday morning, we were greeted by a friendly fella. I explained that we already saw the Christmas portion, but that I wanted to look at the whole Jamison collection with Jenna. With a big smile he said, “Oh yes, let me show you where to start!” And he trotted towards elevator where we traveled up one story. He was completely excited to turn the lights on for us. I wonder when the last guests were upstairs. Even though he had guests down stairs, he couldn’t help but tell us a few neat facts before we began our self-guided tour.

I get the feeling that Rollo Jamison was seen as a hoarder back then. His interest in collecting history started as a child with Indian spearheads. The museum is excellent and gave us a clear picture on what pioneer life would be like in Southwest Wisconsin. Even though I paid once to get in, I’ll be back and I’ll be happy to pay again. It’s well worth the money.

Something that caught my eye was all the technology artifacts. I found it ironic that I was taking pictures of these items with my smartphone. With my phone I can do, to some degree, what all of these devices can do together. Still, I have great respect for these treasures as without their discovery life would be very different today.

From Rollo Jameson

Regina Hexaphone (on the left) in 1909 would be a known as a Jukebox today. The hot must-haves started shipping back in 1909. The player on the left contains musical cylinders that allowed the user to select from six songs. Competitor models only allowed for one song selection. The machine on the right is also a Regina, but operates on a large disk instead. You can’t find these on eBay — they’re just that rare. I was able to find the crank handle for $99 dollars. Could you imagine having this big beast in your parlor so you could listen to the same six songs?

From Rollo Jameson

Check out this telephone. I’m guessing the other end of this phone merely went to an operator where you would ask to be connected somewhere else. I wonder what apps this comes with.

From Rollo Jameson

When I was very little I remember my mother having a typewriter like this, but I don’t know that she used it. I think it was more for decoration, although I remember it having the ribbon. Let me tell you, this machine was no laptop as it weighed around 30lbs. If you ever want to learn about the history of typewriters, here is an interesting resource. There were a few different types on display, but this one reminded me of the boat anchor my mother had when I was a kid. I bet the battery life on this machine is better than mine, but I am guessing the spellcheck is a drag.

From Rollo Jameson

I type my next observations with hesitation because I’m still processing my thoughts. The classroom of the early 1900’s actually looks somewhat the same. The students are in rows, facing the font. The teacher is standing in front having just finished putting knowledge on the board. This scene is missing a SMARTboard and some laptops, but many teachers still use them in the same way that our pioneers would use chalk. Please don’t take offense. I’m examining our use of those devices and thinking about how thy can transform education to create authentic learning experiences. As I stood there photographing the scene, I thought, “Well…um…this one hasn’t changed much.” Of course, this is a generalized statement and surely there are oodles of examples showing otherwise. I’m thankful for those classrooms. I’m not saying this model is always bad, but no one can deny that the students walking into the classroom have most certainly changed. The method of instruction and classroom management certainly should evolve as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *