Starting the old crocks might have been easier if they'd had decent ignition systems. They didn't; even the best of them would have had a tough time electrocuting a moth.
Some of those old points-fired magneto systems were seriously lame, and the battery and coil systems that followed them weren't much better—especially when it came time to work on them. Setting the timing on many of the older bikes, in particular the larger British models, meant pulling the primary cover, affixing a degree wheel to the crank and then tweaking the points until the timing was coaxed into some semblance of accuracy. Japan, Inc., ignitions were an improvement, but even some of those were troublesome. As I recall, you had to remove the upswept exhaust system from the 250 Kawasaki Samurai just to get to the points,
which were recessed into the crankcase. Those of us who worked on them for a living don't miss them in the least.