Modern Inconveniences: Electronics Cords

Good morning everyone!

I intended to upload some pictures today and discuss the unusually early harbingers of spring that appeared the last week in January, but in the wild scramble to find the camera, along with the correct cord for downloading pictures to the computer, I got sidetracked.

Standard Electrical Outlet

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away…..  Sorry – wrong story.  Still, a long time ago, we had both electrical appliances/machines, and enough electrical outlets to match them.  Things that you plugged into the electrical outlets were fairly simple – in the bedroom, you plugged in the television, if you had one for it, and lights; in the den, you plugged in the television , possibly the radio/stereo and lights, and in the kitchen, without counting the major electrical appliances such as the refrigerator and the stove, you would plug in a toaster or a toaster oven.   Throughout the house, you needed enough strategically placed outlets in order to be able to run the vacuum cleaner.

And that was about it.  It was fairly simple to match the outlets to the required gizmos.

There are seven things in this picture that must be plugged in to an electrical outlet - Can you find them all?

But then, electrical equipment began to multiply.  Looking back, I think it was the television equipment that started everything.  Someone invented cable, and the cable box and about the same time, someone else invented the VCR.  Ergo, instantly, two more cords were needed.  One of the very earliest home computers was a Commodore 64.  The Commodore 64 worked by using the television as your monitor, so if you had a Commodore, you needed another plug for the Commodore unit.  Video games were born, such as Pong – a green screen, two white lines for paddles and a white dot that you and the other player (or you and the computer if you didn’t have anyone to play it with) hit back and forth across the screen – and another plug was required.  At first, most of us just plugged various articles in and out as needed – after all, there was no reason to leave the Commodore or the video game plugged in all of the time – but a few brave souls ventured out and discovered the power strip.

By the time the electrical equipment revolving around the television had a good running start, the electronics revolution had also started, and home computers and car phones arrived on the scene.  Home computers required at least three separate outlets – one for the monitor, one for the processing unit and one for the printer.  Because the computer industry did a good job of warning us about what would happen to the (then very expensive) computer equipment with one good lightning stroke in the area of your house, we all felt the need to buy surge protectors, which were conveniently designed with many additional plugs so that you could plug in as many as 16 separate items through one plug on a two plug wall outlet.

All of this was still manageable, however, because once things were set up, they rarely needed to be unplugged and moved around, unless you were rearranging furniture.  Some creative use of power strips and surge protectors might be required, but once you got everything plugged in, the power cord stayed right where you left.  Until…..

The Cell Phone

The mobile electronics revolution began.  Car phones started this round.  When Mark and I were first married, car phones were basically unheard of.  You called from a land line when you could, and otherwise you had to wait until you and whomever you wanted to speak to were in the same place.  The first car phone I can remember having was known as a “bag phone,” which was a handset about the same size as a regular phone contained in a bag about the size of a lunchbox.  It could be charged by plugging it into the wall, or, if you had the adapter, by plugging it into the cigarette lighter in your car.  It still wasn’t too hard to lose this cord, since everything coiled into the bag.

But with the advent of the car phone, the mobile electronics revolution accelerated, and now my life is saturated with electrical cords – cords for the laptop, cords for the digital cameras, cords for each cell phone, mine and Mark’s, cords for various PDA’s that we have used and discarded over time, cords for my Kindle (Mark had once of the first hand-held Hewlett-Packard computers back in the early 90’s, and I can remember using something called a Sony Clie once upon a time), cords for the laptop(s) and probably some I have forgotten somewhere.

Our Graveyard for Obsolete Electronics Cords

For the disorganized individual who loves electronics (and I just can’t be the only one out there) it is a disaster waiting to happen.  To go back to the search that started this post, I spent five minutes going through 10 different cords before I found the one that I needed.

A few things have helped.  I have discovered that the Amazon Kindle cord works well for recharging the cell phones Mark and I have, and one or two of our cameras, so when we’re traveling, as long as I remember to pack the Kindle cord (and since it involves reading, I probably will remember to pack the Kindle cord) we are covered for most of the electronic gizmos and gadgets we will have with us, except for the laptop cords.  Mark found  a charging station for the cell phones, also, that sits on the kitchen counter, so the cell phones recharge in a predictable place.  (Don’t, however, ask me to find the cord that is supposed to sync my phone to my computer; once I started getting error messages every time I tried, that cord faded into oblivion.  Some archeologist is going to find it two thousand years from now and conclude that our civilization practiced ritual strangulation with strong black cords with funny ends.)  Camera cords are a bit dicey, though, because cameras are portable and need to be recharged as well as access a computer for downloading photos, which gives me three different points at which I can lose the cords.  That’s too many for the organizationally challenged like me.

The power strip by my bedside table - the one empty slot is reserved for my laptop.

There really is no point to this lament – I’m going to continue to use, and lose, and find these cords no matter what difficulties are involved, because I am hopelessly addicted to anything that makes beeping sounds, gives me messages and has flashing blue lights anywhere on it as long as I don’t reach the blue or black screen of death – unless someone out there gets the bright idea from this post to design the universal cord – one cord that meets all your needs for any electronic gizmo no matter what it is or when it was made.  I’d have to have about fifty of them to be sure I had one available when I needed it, but I think it would be an improvement.  I think.

Have a great day and weekend!


13 responses to “Modern Inconveniences: Electronics Cords

  1. Omg nancy I was just thinking this the other day after getting a new phone which comes a new cord, seriously where is a universal cord I know consumers would swoon at this but retailers would lose money cause we already own at least one complete set of cords happy Friday!

  2. The part that gets me is finding a stray cord in a drawer and having no idea what it belongs to. Do I still have the gadget? Did it die and get thrown away? Do I really need to keep all the stray cords that I find? With the way things go, I would most likely throw it away and then find the perfectly good gadget that it belonged to! So, they continue to pile up…and up…and up! 🙂 Thanks for the chuckle!

    • You’re welcome. Why do you think we have a graveyard of electronic cords? For exactly the same reason – as soon as we clear out the drawer we will find that one of the cords was needed for something crucial!


  3. Great post Nancy. You are right. Our houses now are a mass of cables. Tall person has three phones and they all have different chargers. Why don’t the manufacturers of phones and Kindle and iPad and cameras and Playstation and XBox agree to have the same type of charging/connection cable? We would then be confident when we dip into the drawer full of tangled cables that there were worth untangling because they would fit.

    • Hi Bassa!

      Mark and I were pleasantly surprised when we found out that our two cell phones use the same kind of cord. Whether that will last when we both have to break down and trade up, I have no idea. I am with you on the universal charging/connection cable!


  4. Yesterday the internet went bye-bye and forced me to crawl under my seven foot desk . One which holds, an all-in-one printer, phone, desk light, 21 inch iMac computer, 32 inch TV, wireless receiver for headphones and a DVD player. I think that’s seven. My queen size bed is also in this small bedroom.

    Needless to say, wire-world exists totally to torment me and trap dust bunnies. Yes, there’s also 2 surge protectors, a modem and a router under the desk.

    After rebooting, while prone under my desk and waiting for the flashing lights, I did a little dusting. To my delight, and consternation the issue wasn’t my server or provider. The electrical plug for the modem had jumped nearly out of it’s place on the surge protector. Next time I’ll check the obvious first.

    • I’m impressed – you’re Wire World was willing to let you leave it! I am afraid to venture into any Wire World in our house that is not open and obvious – I have a hidden fear that my Wire Wold’s might just keep me there.


  5. I so understand where you are coming from. I think we can start our own cord store with the surplus we have.

  6. Pingback: Hello! | Tales from the Mom-Side

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