Recently, I have been thinking a lot about the advances in technology, that I am aware of, in my lifetime, and how they have helped me. Having been born in the early 1950s, I have experienced many of the changes first hand. I will obtain as many pictures as possible from Google on the internet to show the items that I am talking about.
In the 1950s there was no such thing as “color TV” and there were only 3 channels in addition to PBS. The televisions were console models and had tubes in them that would burn out and have to be replaced.
Music was recorded on vinyl discs and played on phonographs. Many times the phonographs were also in a cabinet that resembled a low table and it also had a radio in it. There are some sample pictures below of both the records and the cabinets they phonographs were in.
Home movies were on reels and had to be shown on machines that had attachments for the reels. It was also necessary to use a big screen to show them on.
Regular pictures were taken on cameras that needed flash bulbs to get good pictures, and the film came in rolls that had to be threaded into the camera. The camera had to be wound after each picture. They used flash bulbs that had to be thrown away after just one use. Then came cameras that used film cartridges that did not have to be wound up after each picture and flash cubes that could be used to take four pictures before the cube had to be thrown away. After that came cameras that were automatic wind and flash, but you still had to use film cartridges. Finally came digital cameras with built in light sensors and cell phones that could also take and store pictures. The digital cameras and cell phones use SD cards for storage of the pictures.
When I was growing up, we had a wringer washer to wash our clothes. It did not automatically cycle through a rinse cycle and then spin the clothes so they could be put in a dryer. The machine had to be emptied each time a different cycle was necessary, and that meant that all of the clothes had to be put through the wringer, one by one, to get the excess water out of them. We didn’t have automatic dryers, and the apartment that we lived in had pulley clothes lines, to hang the clothes on to dry outside. I found some internet pictures that are shown below.
There was no such thing as a cell phone when I was growing up. All phones were wired into the wall, and most people even had what was called a “Party Line”, which meant anywhere from three to five different households had the same phone number. If there was someone else on the line and you needed to make an important call, you had to break in on the conversation and ask if they would mind hanging up the phone so that you could make the phone call. You were at the other person’s mercy as to whether or not they would end their call and let you use the phone. It was possible to have a private line, but they cost extra. You had to dial the number using a round dial with holes in it and the numbers were on the solid base of the phone. You would put your finger into whichever hole had the number you needed under it and then turn the dial clockwise until you hit the little stop piece.
Touch tone phones did not come until after I was a teenager.
Cell phones didn’t come until after I was an adult. There are flip phones too.
For people in manual wheel chairs, the invention of power wheel chairs was about the best invention in their lives. The accessibility, to most people with insurance, made it possible for people that could not afford them on their own to be able to own a power chair. It was almost unbelievable to people with any type of paralysis. They were able to get around with a power chair, when they could not do so with a manual chair, unless someone was willing to push them. Even quadriplegics were able to get around, with the aid of a blow tube to control the chair.
These are all really great inventions, but computers have to be the biggest change in all of the wonderful changes that I have seen and had a chance to use and own. To think that back in 1970, when I was in college for computer programming, I had to actually punch cards, stack them, and then verify them before I could run them to see if my program would work. First picture is of a man punching the cards. Second picture shows cards in the keypunch machine. Third picture shows stacking cards to put them in the machine that would verify them, the verifying machine is in the fourth picture.
There was no such thing as a motherboard. There were physical boards, that had to be wired by hand, one wire at a time. These boards are what told the computer what to do. They were the fore runners to plug in modules, since there were no such things as modules
Only businesses and very rich people had computers. The computer and all of its’ components could take up any where from one room to whole buildings. There were raised floors, so that cooling equipment could be installed under them. The temperature had to be kept between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit in the rooms where the massive computers were set up.
Businesses had to be connected to their main computers by modems with internal dial-up routers.
The businesses had actual floppy discs that were 8 inches square, or 5 and 1/4 inches square. The users had to be careful not to bend them, or the information that they contained would be corrupted. Then came the 3 and 1/2 inch square floppy discs that were actually hard plastic.All three sizes and types were called floppy discs though, because they had a very thin floppy disc inside, that contained whatever information that you entered into the computer.
These floppy discs were the first type of storage, and later were replaced by hard drives. The hard drives were metal and had metal discs called platters inside of them. These platters spun around and as the data was entered into the computer, it was recorded on these platters. The first hard drives could only hold mega bytes and/or kilo bytes of data. It took a few years before the first Gigabyte storage capable hard drives were developed. My first Gigabyte hard drive was capable of storing 12 Gigabytes of data. When I had that installed into my computer, I thought it would last me for the rest of my life. I have since had hard drives capable of holding up to over 500 Gigabytes of data.
After the hard drives came external hard drives that could be carried and hooked up to computers in other places via a USB cable. These too were not capable of high volumes of data at first. Now internal hard drives and external hard drives are capable of holding Terabytes of data, and are also available in Solid State Drive form. A Solid State Drive is one that has no internal parts that move. Below are three hard drives. The one on the left is an internal hard drive, the one in the middle is a laptop hard drive, and the one on the left is a solid state hard drive. The solid state hard drive is the same size as the laptop hard drive is. Since the solid state hard drive has no moving parts, it will last indefinitely.
Below is a comparison of a regular hard drive and a solid state drive.
.The actual computer was in a very large metal case with the workings inside of it. These were called desk top computers, and came in various sizes. With the desktop computer it was necessary to use a separate monitor, keyboard and mouse. Some of the computers were able to be put flat and the monitor was placed on top of it, but most of them stood beside the monitor. See pictures below.
The monitors of the older computers used cathode ray tube (CRT) technology, and were separate from the computer. These first monitors were very bulky and heavy. They didn’t get moved very much. The CRT monitors were deep from front to back.
The next type of screen to come on board was the liquid crystal display (LCD). This type of screen had a sharper picture than the CRT, and was not as big and bulky. It was no where near as deep from front to back as the CRT, and was much easier to move from one area to another.
After the LCD type of screen came the light emitting diode (LED) type of screen. These had an even sharper screen. They were very skinny from front to back when compared to the CRT, and even a bit smaller from front to back than the LCD screens were. Both the LCD and the LED screens were available in many different dimensions when compared the the CRT screens.
After the LED screen cam the plasma display screen, and was the most vibrant of all of the screens before it. It was available in even bigger sizes, while still being very sleek. These screens even had High Definition (HD) capabilities.
The most modern screens have touch screen technology built into them, as shown below.
The computers continued to be improved and made smaller and easier to be carried around. These came to be known as Laptop computers, and even smaller ones are called tablets. The tablets are more for watching movies ans playing games though, than for actually being used as computers. They usually didn’t have keyboards with them and therefore were not practical for business use. Now, however there are tablets that have magnetic keyboards that may be connected to them, so they may be used as regular laptops.A regular laptop is shown on the left, and a tablet with a magnetic keyboard is shown on the right.
The first computer that I had was one that friends gave to me. It was a standup desktop with a CRT screen, keyboard and regular mouse. I later had a computer built to my specifications that also had a CRT, but it was a 17 inch screen. I had a keyboard and a regular mouse.
Today my mouse is an optical mouse. Even though I have a laptop that has a mouse pad and a keyboard contained in it, I like using an external mouse and an external keyboard. I am a senior citizen, and it is just easier for me to use the external devices.
The portability of a laptop is great. When I take the laptop anyplace, all I take is the external mouse, and use the keyboard that is made into the laptop.
When I think of all the technological changes that have happened in my lifetime, I am all but overwhelmed. It is simply amazing to see how far technology has come. Children of today, and even many adults will never know what having vinyl records playing on a record player was like. Nor will they know what a hardwired house phone ( more commonly called a land line) was like. They will never have known black and white TV, VHS movies, cassette tapes and eight tracks, cameras with flash bulbs and film that had to be wound after each picture. With being able to make videos on cell phones, they won’t know what home movies and home movie projectors are all about. By the same token they will not know what having negatives to pictures is all about since they can take and store pictures on their cell phones and upload them to the cloud. With mp3 players they don’t have to have walk men for the CD, and DVDs have evolved to Blue Ray and now even 4k, I think they are called. The x-box is going away to a degree, since most games can now be purchased and played on PCs and/or laptops.
Even though some of the advances are hard to get used to at first, I wouldn’t change it for the world. Technology is wonderful, and change will never stop happening. When you stop wanting to learn new things, you stop living to a degree. I am very thankful for the changes that I have come to depend on each and every day. There is no way that I can single out how they have helped me and which one is better than another. But if I had to pick just one, I would have to pick the phone first. And if by chance I could pick two things, I would have to pick the laptop next.