User Input

User Input: Definitions of Success

Actually, she's calling down to the engine room to ask for more power.

When I was a young lad, still trying to figure out how the world worked, I gradually started to latch on to certain objects, items or gadgets as an identifier of a successful person. Obviously vehicles were one glaring example, but even at a very early age, my dad taught me that they were not a reliable indicator. So gradually I started to build a picture of how to recognize someone who had been successful in their career, or in their life. Someone who had “made it”.

In the heady days of early-1980s commercialization and consumerism, that was the norm; everything on television and in the movies was all about showing off, and demonstrating to people how awesome you were through your gadgetry, your fashion, your god-awful hair, and the nails-on-a-chalkboard music you love to listen to. Strangely, even as a young boy, I found most of these displays repulsive, and tried to form my own barometer to cut through the bullshit. The best candidate I was able to come up with was the car phone. Back in those days, they were so rare that if you had one, you weren’t just showing off. The monthly fees for an in-car phone could rival the payments on a mortgage in our area, so in those rare situations where you saw one, that person had “made it”. So obviously, I wanted one, not understanding the whole concept of having to grow up and get a job first.

What gadget or piece of technology made your childhood self (or perhaps your inner child?) desire it as a sign that they had “made it big”?

  • TechieInHell

    The mobile phone has become so ubiquitous that it is no longer a sign of anything. Interestingly, most of the people who have "made it big" are the ones that don't carry a cell phone because they have their personal assistant carry it and answer it for them. So there's my answer: I want a slave personal assistant so that everyone knows how awesome I am.

    • Deartháir

      That's why I have you!

  • Your own personal airplane.

  • Number_Six

    24/7 electricity, indoor bathrooms, TV

    • The Professor


      • Number_Six

        We had to move once because the house cistern ran out of rainwater. Good times. But yeah, at least we didn't have to eat handfuls of hot gravel or live in t'lake.


    If you were a married dad with two or more kids and drove a two-seater roadster/coupe/caringeneral, to me you had your shit together.

    And if your were a married mom with two or more kids driving a two-seater roadster/coupe/caringeneral? DST, Baby! Double Shit Togetherness!

    …ah, the simpler times.

    • OA5599

      In first grade, I used to carpool to school with a kid whose mom drove a Porsche 914. Both of us kids would share the passenger seat.

      She bought it during that school year, and I remember her showing it off the first time I got to ride in it. She was especially proud of the targa top. Her joy subsided a bit when 5-or-6-year-old me pointed out that the car sounded just like a Volkswagen, and asked if it was one.

      • POLAЯ

        I love the honesty in a youngster. No candy-coated BS, just pure thought and an honest assessment.

        Neat little car, but for a Porsche? No wonder 914 is 419 in reverse. The original Nigermanian scandal?

    • BlackIce_GTS

      I've always thought of having as little shit togetherness as possible as being a status symbol.
      By which I mean ensuite bathrooms, and lots of 'em.

      Oh, and central home air conditioning. Very rare here, because it just doesn't get that hot.

  • OA5599

    I used to think a fancy car was a sign you made it big. Now I know it takes a crappy one.

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    • PowerTryp

      To be completely honest, racing a cheap car will cost the same as owning a fancy car in the long run. Just alot more fun.

    • Vairship

      A sign you made it big is when there's a sign hovering over the horizon that's bigger than your car…

  • The Professor

    My own, personal nuclear reactor.

    • I take a more redneck view, your own personal bulldozer. Not for work, just recreational use.

      • The Professor

        Oooo, those are good. I think I might like one of those big front end loaders too.

  • Number_Six

    It's hard to remember stuff that made people really stand out thirty years ago as having made it, but I remember being boggled at giant colour console televisions with remote controls the first time I saw them. I was also super envious of kids who had the Coleco Electronic Quarterback – I thought their parents must have been made of US dollars.

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  • BlackIce_GTS

    I remember all the rich kids in ~2nd grade had the same really nice crayon set. There was probably a hundred of them and they came in a custom red plastic briefcase thing. There were a gold and silver, a bunch of neon colours, and a ton of normal colours nobody cared about. These were achingly desirable and radical. Which may have had something to do with my status as a recovering crayon-eater.

  • solracer66

    My dad was an airline pilot and we had a car phone in our Rambler station wagon when I was little. I remember going with my dad to the shop to have it removed when we got our new Mustang in 1965. I was so disappointed that it didn't get transferred to the Mustang that even though I was just 6 at the time I still remember where in Seattle the shop that removed the phone was.