Technology Then And Now

Wow! Is it just me, or has technology changed faster that we can even keep up? Since visiting this topic, back in 2012, what was technology then, is almost obsolete today. So, let’s go back again and look at technology, from way back then, to 2012, to now.

The first thing I’m remembering is our first computer, the Commodore Vic 20, which preceded our Commodore 64, when our girls were around ages six and four.

Now, I am using the latest in Hewlett Packard laptops, just purchased in March, which is probably considered old by now. You also have computers on your phone and even ones you can wear on your wrist.

I remember our first microwave oven, purchased just after we were married, which did not have button settings, it had a dial timer. The one we own today is the push button, with timer shortcuts for a variety of food and drink.

I remember our first VCR, which had a wired remote, the wire being about twenty feet long, so it would reach from almost anywhere in the living room. Now we have the receiver that came with our subscription to Satellite TV which allows us to record programming to be watch later. We also have one wireless receiver which allows us to watch television on our deck if, and when, the weather cooperates.

I remember my first cell phone, which had the pull out antenna and had a battery that almost equalled the size of the phone itself, which could be equated to a slightly smaller version of a World War II Walkie Talkie. I carried it in a briefcase and the phone, battery, and battery charger took up a lot of space in that case.

My cell phone today lets me get on the internet, watch TV (especially my Tribe games), do some banking, send and receive email, communicate by text messaging, get a weather report, and shop for almost anything, including food, for delivery to my house. I can also listen to music on my phone, as well as just ask my living room Alexa to play my favorite satellite channels, allowing me to sell my old stereo system. (I do still have my AM-FM radio/ cassette tape player/turntable set up in my man cave with a milk crate full of albums to listen to from time to time, though.)

Cooking technology back in my day was a little different too. We had my favorite gadget, the Veg-o-matic, which diced, sliced, and cut French Fries five different ways. We had hand choppers, a cast iron frying pan, a couple of large pots, and the usual types of cutlery you’d expect to find. Today there are food processors, and knives that can cut brick and aluminum cans (though I’ve not yet found any recipes that call for either of those ingredients, nor have I seen either of those entrees prepared on the Food Network.) We also have red copper pans, crock pots, air Fryers, and smokeless indoor grills, which make cooking faster and faster. Soon the food we buy will be cooked before it leaves the market where we buy it. (Oh wait, pizza shops, Fast Food places, supermarket delis, etc.)

Research technology has come a long way since my generation was growing up. Back then, we had dictionaries, thesauruses, atlases, and encyclopedias to find information. Today, there’s the internet, featuring Google and Jeeves. And how about cover to cover novels, other books, and newspapers and magazines that can be read on mobile devices today, as opposed to the tangible, in our hand, print on paper? Ask a student to go to the library and look up something in the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature, and see the look on their face.

Back to phones, phone related technology is different today. We still have phone books, which are commonly used to prop up one side of an uneven chair or table. We had little address books where we wrote down a person’s phone number and then referred to that when we couldn’t remember an important number. Then the amazing Rolodex was created for our convenience. Today, we have the internet, and the directory on our cell phone to be able to instantly call someone.

Travel technology has changed considerably too. Used to be, to know how to get from Jamestown to anywhere, we pulled out that sixteen (or so) fold road map from the glove compartment, or get out that AAA Trip Tik, and have your co-pilot read said map and give you directions on which roads to take to get where you were going. In the 2000s, GPS devices became popular, but even those have been replaced, to a high degree, by our good old (actually new) cell phones which can be used for almost everything these days.

Back in my day, we used a camera to take our pictures. We had to put film in those cameras. When we took all the pictures the film could offer, we took it to a place where they could develop the film into pictures, a process that usually took a week or so before you could see how bad the picture you took actually was. There was an exception there, with instant developing cameras (Poloroid, etc.) Now we have our cell phones which let us to take the picture or shoot the video, see it right away, and decide if you needed to re-take it.

When I was growing up, if someone gave us a gift, our parents made us write a pencil/pen and paper “Thank You” letter/card and mail it to the giver, expressing our thanks, and, if it was money, maybe letting the person who gave it to us know what we might be using the money. We could also use our rotary dial telephone, in our house, attached to the kitchen wall, with the tangled cord for which we got yelled at for doing the tangling, and call the person who gifted us. Now, we can make a call on our cell phone, send a Facebook message, along with a selfie of our self, send an email with an attached jpeg picture, or use the popular text method of communicating to thank them. We can also use our computers/iPads to Snapchat, Skype, or Facetime to contact the person who gave us the gift. Most of that can be done with our phones, as well. But, if not, we have our iPads, our laptops, not sure about the Apple Watches, or we can use that ever popular texting method of communicating (don’t ask me why, as I think it is easier to talk on a phone rather than try to type anything with my thumbs, then have to go back and correct my spelling mistakes, just because my thumbs usually hit three letters at once.)

And speaking of phone calling, in earlier times, if we worked with a group and had to pass along information, we would have to call each person in our group. As we became more “seasoned” at what we were doing, we may have created a “phone tree” to save us some time in getting our message to where it needs to go. Ask kids today if they know what a phone tree is? My guess is, they will look at you with the same look as they gave with the Guide to Periodical Literature. And today, we can also communicate with several people at once through Facebook and group texts.

And I haven’t even touched on the changes in technology in fields such as Science, Medicine, and Travel.

I’m sure, Lord willing and I’m still doing this in another seven years, my look at technology then may have much more of a look that resembles life in The Jetsons.

In a tweak of the words of a well-known commercial quote back in my day, “We’ve come a long way, baby.” With the amazing changes from then to now, my guess is that we still have an infinite way to go.