My mother, Christine Forsyth, enlightened me over the phone about her experiences with television and media space between 1975-85. Her memories of the television are very different to ours today and hopefully her reflections of the past can allow some insight to what technology was like during the 70s and 80s.

Mrs Forsyth grew up in Canberra with her father, mother and older sister. Although her parents were both Portuguese, they settled into Australian lifestyle easily and have lived in Canberra for over 50 years now. When asked to recollect the appearance of the television, Mrs Forsyth stated that they had a big freestanding black and white TV with a knob to turn to the two television stations: ABC and 10. However, what she remembers most is when they got a colour TV in 1975. She described it as another big boxy thing with a rabbit-ear arial and two stations, she stated that there was no remote control which meant you had to manually change the station.

Mrs Forsyth proceeded to describe the room in which the television was situated. She informed me that they had converted one of the bedrooms into the television room. It was pretty relaxed but small, the TV took up a fair bit of the space and the arial sat on top of the TV with an array of photos and a vase. Mrs Forsyth only had one television in the house when she was a teenager, however when she came back from uni she had a small black and white TV that was kept in her bedroom.

When asked about her memories relating specifically to the programs run on the television, she reminisced to Sunday nights as it was the best viewing.  She recalled that Disneyland was on at 5:00pm, then Countdown at 6:00pm, followed by the Sunday night movie. She stated that the whole family sat together and her father always claimed the big comfortable chair. Mrs Forsyth particularly remembers watching Number 96 and The Box when her father and mother had gone to bed. She enjoyed television more when they had a selection of stations and having the freedom to watch whatever she liked when her television was in her bedroom.

Reflecting on this small conversation emphasised to me how evolved our technology has become. I cannot even remember the last time I had to change a channel by hand now with the luxury of remote control. Even the fact that we have almost 20 times more stations available to us on free-to-air television. The television was previously consumed in a formal setting, where the family gathered around and viewed media together. Nowadays, with so many platforms available for us, we could be watching television on our laptops, tablets, and phones. The idea of a ‘formal viewing space’ has almost vanished with the rapid increase of technology; and with new technology brings new meanings and traditions.  It’s both concerning and exciting to think that in 40 years time, we will be the ones being interviewed by our children about what television was like back in the day.


Thank you to Mrs. Christine Forsyth for allowing her experiences be read online.

Memory Conversations: A Guide. Available from BCM240 Moodle Subject Materials.


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