Six common sounds of the past that we no longer hear

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Link here. I agree with the first commenter that another sound no longer heard and not included in the list is the sound of a dial-up modem getting online. There is also the sound of rotating the radio dial past many stations.



  • DK Williams

    There’s also the “dink dink” sound made when pulling into the gas station to tell staff a customer had arrived.

  • Chris Kirkendall

    Good addition! I miss that sound! All of these sure bring back some great memories!

    I’m going to add one that’s not a sound, but a smell: When I was kid in grade school, the teacher would hand us copies of a study sheet (or maybe a test or whatever) that were run off on the old “Mimeograph” copy machines. The print was purple & when they first came off the machine, they were still slightly damp from the print fluid or solvent & had this very strong, distinctive, somewhat pleasant smell, and all the kids would sniff their stack before taking their own copy & passing it back to the kid sitting behind ! ! I guess that really dates me – that was before the modern-day copiers came into use, of course…

  • If the print was purple than these sheets were probably printed not on a mimeograph machine (which I once owned and used to print newsletters) but a ditto machine, which was comparable but used a slightly different process.

    Either way, these printers are long gone replaced by computers and modern printers that allow us to do so much more. I can’t describe to you the labor involved to prepare a mimeograph stencil for printing. The typing had to be perfect.

  • mpthompson

    Another distinctive sound I’ll remember from grade school is the chatter (ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch…) of the 16mm projector used to to show educational movies in a class — always manned by the student AV team at the school. Then when the movie finished the flapping (flap-flap-flap-flap…) sound as the end of the reel spun around slapping the camera.

  • David Hollick

    Here’s a few:

    1. The sound of coins being dropped into a pay phone.
    2. The clatter of keypunch machines. Most companies put the keypunch department in a sound deadening room.
    3. The sound of a motorcycle being kick started. Some small dirt bikes still have these, but big street bikes are all electric starts now. And, we can’t leave out the macho feeling of having your bike start on the first kick.

  • Chris Kirkendall

    Oh – another good one ! ! Can’t even remember how long it’s been since I last heard that sound…

  • Chris Kirkendall

    You could be right about that – sounds like you know more about this than I do. This was in like 2nd, 3rd grade, etc., I just recall people back then referring to Mimeographs – but that could be a case of people applying a trade name to something generic, like calling all soft drinks “Coke”…

    Did the Ditto machines produce pages that came out still slightly damp & with a somewhat pleasant sweet aroma?

  • “Did the Ditto machines produce pages that came out still slightly damp & with a somewhat pleasant sweet aroma?”

    Yes, exactly. Mimeograph used an ink process that did not have these same results.

  • Chris Kirkendall

    Bob, thanks for the clarification on Mimeograph vs. Ditto. One reason I come to this site is I almost always learn something new, & I just did!

  • Joe

    The sound of a mid sixties Chrysler car starter in the morning.

  • There is a scene in ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’ (the ‘American Graffiti’ of my generation) that shows exactly what you’re describing.

    My own additions:

    The ‘beep’ to advance the film on a filmstrip projector.

    The sound of a paddle on a backside at school (speak from experience here).

    A busy signal.

    And yes, the dial-up ‘handshake’ noise. I did hear that a few years ago, and it took me a moment to realize what it was.

  • Keith

    The old teletype machines that printed out news stories and other information…

    There’s an all news Radio Station in NYC, 1010 WINS, that constantly has that sound in the background of their broadcasts. I sometimes wonder how many in their audience these days know what that sound is supposed to be.

  • Jack

    Reading this site on adialupmodem. Slow but secure.

  • I am very curious about how well BtB loads for you on dialup. Do the video files slow things down too much? Can you see the images? Are the ads a problem for you?

    My goal has been to make the software template for this site simple and quick loading. You can tell me if I have succeeded.

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