I'm not sure it's possible to disentangle the effects of being young back then in the late 1960s-early 1970s and the tenor of the times itself but I'll try.
The "Space Race" to the Moon was in full sway in the mid-1960s, and the omnipresent cultural emphasis on everything space back then cannot be exaggerated. Of course, we didn't realize the whole show was really propaganda to get us involved in Cold War technology but it was. By the late 1960s, the excitement of the Apollo was already subsiding, to be rekindled only momentarily by the Apollo 11 landing in 1969. That was the backdrop.
About age nine, I received a dime store telescope with nested tubes like a spyglass that wouldn't even show craters on the Moon. The mount was a short, unbalanced, wobbly hunk of pot metal that I set upon the car roof to observe with, and there was no star diagonal. How could I explain to my parents it was junk--after all, it is best to be gracious when receiving a gift--so I kept my mouth shut. The problem? It was a monochromat stopped way, way down to minimize lateral color, as I learned by removing the stops. My experience was not at all atypical, and I think, unfortunately, that this sort of junk still exists in too much abundance today. Anyway, I put it away and began observing when I could with others' scopes.
A few of us kids were involved with astronomy. Skies were a little darker for me then, maybe Bortle 5 instead of my current Bortle 6. That means we could easily see the summer Milky Way after midnight while today, for me, it is barely there. Somehow I'd glommed onto a planisphere and used it to learn the constellations.
One lucky kid had a Tasco 4.25" reflector on a GEM. We thought it was fabulous. We all read voraciously every book in the public library, which in retrospect was well-stocked. Typically, today they are not well stocked, the Space Race having long faded, and in fact the physical science sections of most public libraries (they seem nationwide to contract ordering books from the same few ordering services) are terribly deficient. Our high school library subscribed to S&T and, best of all, they had lots of back issues to review. There was even a copy of Wilkins' book "How to Make a Telescope." He made it seem oh, so simple (laugh). Meanwhile, some of us got ourselves invited to use the UC Davis observatory 12.5" Cave a couple of times, and that was fun!
About then, perhaps through S&T, we discovered Edmund's, Jaeger's, Cave, and all the rest. My friends drifted off to girls and another interests, and so did I, but I'd periodically return to astronomy. About that time a friend introduced me to the local John Dobson telescope making class (perhaps I'll start a thread on this subject someday). He tried to convince everyone to make a 12" mirror but--having read the warnings in telescope making books by Wilkins, Howard, and Texereau, I ordered a smaller 10" Pyrex blank from Edmund's. What I didn't know was that Pyrex is twice as hard as the plate glass tool I was using, and it took me several years to grind the f/6.6 curve I desired (just short enough for me to stand and reach the eyepiece). Working way too many chores and odd jobs, I also slowly accumulated enough money to buy a Cave GEM with 1.5" axes, which I still own and use today. Anyway, by the time I was a senior in high school I'd completed a 10" Newtonian with a cardboard tube, Cave secondary and spider, a homemade mirror cell, and a wooden tube cradle that allowed tube rotation. It actually worked quite well and gave very good images.
About then, say around 1971 or so, the first C-8 orange tube SCTs appeared. They cost, I believe, around $800, which was the equivalent of $5700 today: way, way out of my price range. I think Coulter Optical began selling large Dobs about the same time. I checked out of amateur astronomy upon graduating from high school in 1973.
Much happened in the interim. I returned to amateur astronomy--as in "the beauty of nature"--again in 1989. By then I had a doctorate in Astronomy, a consulting business advising on spacecraft optical systems, and a young family. Astronomy Magazine had become a viable competitor to S&T. I redid my telescope tube with better components and began using it again. My, the changes! Few were involved in telescope making anymore, although I did find a local class where my son and I made a 5.5" f/7 reflector sized for him, including a good quality homemade mirror. Instead, everyone seemed to be buying either SCTs or big Dobs. Back then, Obsession was the Dob-of-Choice and they still are fine instruments. Film remained in vogue, and astrophotography was catching on in a big way. I really wasn't that interested in AP, though. Also, the plethora of adapters, software, mounts, etc. just seemed to multiply every year, as it has done to the present. I particularly appreciated the Televue ep revolution. I bought three (Nagler Type 1 13mm, Nagler Type 2 20mm, and Nagler Type 1 7mm), and I continue use them as my primary eyepieces today! No, the "kidney beaning" of the 13mm eyepiece doesn't bother me. Also, finally a decent focuser, a JMI NGF-1, which I also continue to use to the present day.
I also taught astronomy and physics courses at the college and university level for fun. The students were quite enthusiastic. In many cases, I was able to borrow a "transportable" Coulter 13.1" scope (I owned a minivan back then) and schedule a star party for the class at a Bortle 4 site not far away. It was fun to watch their expressions upon seeing Saturn for the first time ("... it looks fake!") or their excitement upon seeing the spiral structure of M101, among other DSO showpieces.
I think the hobby continues to evolve. The information sources from the web, such as this forum, are way, way more comprehensive (and mostly honest, after screening out the equipment partisans) than what was available back when. Pushed by the undesirability of ladders, Dobs seem to be evolving to ever-shorter f/ratio primaries. Collimation tools, first in the form of the Cheshire and then laser collimators have evolved to keep pace. 'Same too with coma correctors. And wow, the mounts available today are amazing, the serious coin required to purchase one notwithstanding. For lower budgets, the SCTs are in fact bargains for the money. Their mounts are better than in the days of yore, too. Also, given the now-pervasive light pollution and concomitant gray nighttime skies, I "get" the desire for a goto scope as opposed to star hopping with now-washed out stars. Also, as we get older, our exit pupils shrink quite dramatically and we are no longer able to see as faintly. I don't really "get" the APO craze, though, except for AP uses. Yes, they are fine telescopes but their small apertures are a huge negative when viewing DSOs: ease-of-use, portability, way too much free cash? Not everyone owns a house with a yard, I know.
For me, though, some things haven't changed much. I still have my 10" f/6.6 with Cave GEM mount, although all the components have been upgraded to high quality. And I still wheel it onto the back patio to happily go observing several times each month. It is one way I relax.
Happy observing always,