Embracing change is hard for some. Others advocate for change, whether it is in societal thinking, politics, or economics. Then there is change we never saw coming, and didn’t know we either wanted or needed it. Thank goodness for the dreamers and innovators who have laid the world at our fingertips.
The untimely death of Steve Jobs a couple of years ago caused me to pause and reflect on the never ending advances in technology that have transpired during my lifetime. I never drank the Apple Kool-Aid, but still have the utmost admiration for Steve Jobs. Our lives have been forever transformed by men like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. President Obama said “there may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented.” The products these men developed changed our lives, our society, and the world forever.
IBM and Apple introduced their first personal computers in the late 1970’s. My first computer, the Commodore 64, was introduced around 1982. I sometimes wish I still had that Commodore, for nostalgia’s sake, but technology was moving on, and I jumped on board. In the workplace, we went from using “dumb terminals” that stored data on ten inch floppy disks, to the best PC’s available, which had a direct, real-time connection to mainframe computers halfway across the country. We progressed from green screens, to black and white, to vibrant full color animated screens. The screen size went from nine inches to “how big do you want it?”
My first exposure to the internet was through CompuServe, the first major commercial online service in the U.S. When you connected to CompuServe back then, all you saw was a blank screen with a blinking cursor. You had to type in commands like, GO TO DOW JONES. Search engines like Google did not exist. If you did not know how to get to where you wanted to be on the internet in those early days, you simply did not get there. Then along came the Internet Service Providers (ISP’s), and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, which put a user-friendly face on the internet. Using a dial-up modem back then was agonizingly slow, but we did not know that then. Very few people I knew had a personal computer. Some thought it was rather silly that I wanted a personal computer, internet access, and email. Little did they know!
In 1975, your only telephone likely hung on your kitchen wall. Fast forward to 2013 and we have tiny smartphones that fit in our pockets. One can surf the internet on these tiny devices, send and receive emails and text messages, upload photographs to Facebook, read newspapers, manage your calendar, and play games.
During my late teens, I could not wait to get an eight-track tape player in my car. We soon moved on to compact cassette tapes and the Sony Walkman. Today our music is downloaded from websites to our iPod Nano. The iPod Nano fits in the smallest pocket of your jeans. That pocket was originally designed by Levis in the 1800’s to hold a cowboy’s pocket watch.
It is amazing how much technology has advanced and has embedded itself into our lives and vocabulary. Terms like cellphone, smartphone, surf, iPad, RAM, WWW, http, Wi-Fi, tablet, touchscreen, Apple, Google, Yahoo!, iPhone, e-reader, Kindle, iPod, Mp3, Bluetooth, and Apps are now entrenched in our vocabulary. Blackberries and apples were merely fruits; now they are chic communication devices. A tablet was a medication, not something used to surf the internet. We used to kindle a fire, not read books on one. A ram is a male sheep, and random access memory. Birds tweet beautiful songs; now we Tweet 140 characters with hash tags. We use Office at home, where we have windows and use Windows. People who are unsophisticated were referred to as yahoos. Today, Yahoo! is a very sophisticated internet search engine.
Every generation has seen incredible advances in technology, but the advancement in information technology that has taken place in my lifetime has been an insanely great ride for me. As goes life, so goes technology; out with the old, in with the new. Embracing change, whether it is in technology, politics, or societal thinking, has brought us a long way, and I will continue to cheer it and embrace it.