I was born and raised in Vietnam, a Third World country. where war didn’t end until the 80s and economic development just started in the last 20 years. Our childhood memories, of people who was born before 2000, were very different from that of children from other countries. Especially for people living in the northern part, we were living in backwardness in technology for a long long time.
So I was having a conversation with my housemates about their memories of television in childhoods. One was born on the early 90s, Hoa and Trong, was born on the late 70s and they are countrymen, both from a small province in the north of Vietnam.
I am from a pretty big city of Vietnam, so when I started to be aware of the world around me, my family was already having a colour TV with a couple of local TV channels. It was the same for my neighbourhood, and almost every household in the area had their own colour television. So I did not expect much at the conversation, as I reckoned it was the same for their families, because, the early-90s-born guy, isn’t much older than me. I am always fully aware of the preciousness of the television at that time. But there was a surprising point for me. According to them, they weren’t introduced to colour tv until early 2000s.
(EXTRA INFORMATION: Television first appeared in Vietnam in 1966, in Saigon, the capital of Republic of Vietnam. And it wasn’t until 1975 when the communists won the battle that television was imported into the northern Vietnam. During 1970-1990, while colour TV was widely used in the rest of the world, black and white was the most popular kind in Vietnam. )
Hoa, who was born on 1976, didn’t have a chance to eye-witness a television until she was 9. “That moment was magnificent”, she said, “It must be the word magnificent to describe how beautiful it was.” The first tv her father brought home was a black and white tv in a (cheap) wooden box, with 4 legs and curved screen. He got the TV during his trip as an official to the South, said it was from a migrant family in Saigon. The TV had been in storage room for a while, it didn’t work well when it was brought home, but it was still something to be proud of. It was placed i the middle of the living room (or you can call it lounge, as they are the same in Vietnamese houses) and mostly used in family time or when they had guests only. It wasn’t only a tv, but also a furniture, due to its design, and a symbol of innovation, because there weren’t many households to have TV. “There were only 3 channels: VTV1, VTV3 and Thai Nguyen broadcast with news and a couple music shows, broadcasted in a couple of (fixed) times in a day”, she said, “There wasn’t anything really interesting but it was so exciting to watch a person standing in a box and talked to me.”
And Trong, born 1992, said that his memory of his first television in childhood was a black and white Panasonic plastic box, place on a cabinet in the living room. “Journey to the West” ,”Justice Pao” and “My Fair Princess” were the most favourited series at the time. He remembered, there were a few times, he fought with his sister to win the right to watch tv, as he wanted to watch football while she wanted to watch cartoon. When he got a little bit older, his family got a colour television, and he was so excited that he only left it when his parents gave third warning. Like many children at that time, he wasn’t restricted in watching TV (like me), so it was likely to be addicted to television.
Television nowadays is still an important part of a family but it was nice to gain some insights of the past time when television was more than just a television.