Transportation & Technology

1970 - 1999

The automobile and airlines were now the common way people used to travel from one area to another. The areas that saw the biggest growth during this time were communication and technology. Can you think of 5 new technologies/ways to communicate that were introduced during this time period?


Commercial plane service took off. Boeing introduced the Boeing 747, one of the largest aircraft ever to fly. It still flies today and takes millions of people to destinations all over the world. In 1976, British Airways introduced the Concorde, which provided supersonic service across the Atlantic Ocean. People could fly from London to New York in half the time as the other airlines.

The automobile was now the main form of transportation. People in Northwest Franklin County drove cars to get to and from their jobs, to visit family members and to go on vacation. There were three main car manufacturers; General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. In 1973, America faced an energy crisis. The price of gasoline went to from 30¢ a gallon to over $1. People were afraid that they would no longer be able to afford their cars. As a result, the car manufacturers began designing smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. Car-pooling, mass transit, and alternate energy sources became popular topics. As the nation recovered from the energy crisis, people forgot about their fears and cars became larger. In fact, by this time, most families in Northwest Franklin County now own 1, if not 2 cars.

Some significant events took place in Franklin County. The Hayden Run Road Bridge that was built between 1904 and 1906 had deteriorated so badly that it had to be blown up and rebuilt. This is what the bridge looked like in 1976, before they blew it up. In 1988 they blew it up so that they could rebuild it. What does it look like today?

The underpass opened at Cemetery Road on July 4, 1978. This was great, because when a train did go through Hilliard, it would no longer tie up traffic for long periods of time. People were delighted.


Residents of Northwest Franklin County loved using the telephone to communicate. Instead of waiting days to get news by a letter, they could call up their family/friends and share their news immediately!  But what happened when you weren’t home to receive your calls?  In 1971, PhoneMate introduced the first answering machine. It weighed 10 pounds!  It was able to screen calls and hold 20 messages on a reel-to-reel tape. In the mid 1980’s, answering machines became much smaller and went digital, making them like they are today.

The cordless phone was first introduced in 1980, but presented many problems. The sound was not good. You could often hear your neighbor’s conversations. There was a lot of static on the line and they were very expensive. The quality of the cordless phone continued to improve and by 1998, they were replacing touch-tone phones. People soon had multiple phones in their homes, some people even had multiple phone lines. You could now walk around the block while talking to your neighbor. How incredible is that!

Cell phones were also introduced during this time period. In 1979 the first commercial cellular phone system began in Tokyo. In  1981, Motorola and American Radio tested a cellular radio system in the Washington/Baltimore area. By 1982 cellular service had spread to the Chicago area. The demand for cellular service quickly grew. By 1987, there were already more than one million cell phone users. How many do you think there are today?

Probably the biggest influence on the way we communicate has been the internet. Believe it or not, it started way back in 1858 when a cable was laid in the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean to carry communication across the ocean instantly. It didn’t succeed at first, but the idea had been planted. With the invention of computers and the computer chip, it was just a matter of time before the “information highway” was created. Email (electronic mail) was developed along with the internet.


In the early 1970’s, people in Northwest Franklin County had heard of computers, but they were not easy to come by. There was a growing demand for a personal computer that could be used in the home or at work. Several companies began selling kits so that you could build your own computer. The early kits cost $565.00 and came with 1K of programmable memory. The computers were large and slow. On April 1, 1976, the Apple I computer was released and Apple was born. Computers continued to evolve during this time. They became faster and included floppy disk drives. In 1981, IBM introduced the “Personal Computer” with an operating system, called MS-DOS. Apple introduced the Macintosh in 1984 and IBM changed its operating system to Windows in 1985. By the late 1990’s most homes had at least one computer with internet service.

Appliances continued to evolve also. There was now a microwave oven. Did you know that the microwave oven was an accidental discovery? Two scientists invented a magnetron (a device used to sense radar) during the war, and while they were performing some tests they discovered that it also could be used to cook food. The first microwave ovens were very large and very expenseive-$1295.00. As they became smaller and less expensive they became very popular. Why do you think they became so popular? By 1976 over 60% of all households had a microwave oven.


Overview Compiled and Edited by Lauren Davis