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.
There was no such thing as a cell phone when I was growing up. All phones were wired into the wall. 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. My first cell phone was big and heavy, like the one in the far right of the picture below. My second cell phone was a flip phone, like the one in the picture by itself on the right. These first phones had three letters and/or characters on each number. It was sort of hard for me, at first, to get the hang of having to press the individual number from 1 to 3 times to get whatever letter I needed for the text I was sending, or the contact that I was entering into the phone. Most cell phones today have touch screens with keyboards on them, so you can type whatever message you need to send. And for those that can’t or don’t want to use their hands, they can use speech to text. The three that I know names for them are, Alexa, Cortana and Siri . A person merely has say “Hey Alexa”, “Hey Cortana”, or “Hey Siri” to activate the voice system. Phones with Google are activated by saying “OK Google” and then telling Google whatever it is that you want Google to do. Siri and Cortana can also be told to do other things, such as call someone that you have listed in your contacts, set a timer, and set alarms if necessary. I have come to appreciate the touch screens quite a bit.
Besides the phone’s capabilities of making calls, sending messages, and setting timers and alarms, for whatever reason, cell phones of today can record videos, take pictures, and provide GPS capabilities. You can locate your family members with Life 360, your lost phone(if the app is turned on), and find what route to take you anyplace that you need to go. It is also possible to watch movies and TV shows, as well as play games on them. I don’t know how people made it as well as they did before the advent of cell phones.
Taking pictures has even become much easier. Now days there are digital cameras, for those old timers that don’t want or trust cell phones(there are still a few of those people around), and for people that take a lot of pictures and don’t want to run the battery down on their cell phone. Cameras of the past had to use flash bulbs, and film that had to be physically rolled onto a reel in the camera and advanced with each picture that was taken. My first camera was a Brownie Fiesta, that was like the first one in the picture below.
For people in manual wheel chairs, the invention of power wheel chairs is about the best invention in their lives. The accessibility, to most people with insurance makes it possible for people that could not afford them on their own to be able to own a power chair. It is almost unbelievable to people with any type of paralysis. They are 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 are able to get around, with the aid of a blow tube to control the chair.
Not only are there power chairs, but even manual chairs now have a device that can be put on the two big wheels that can assist them in being able to propel their chair. They are called “power assist motors”. I hope to be able to get them for my manual chair. I had a power chair, but it gave up the ghost about four years ago, and I had to go to my back-up manual chair. But without the manual chair I would not be able to leave my house, so I am happy to have it.
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 thing 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 in 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 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 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 stand-up 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, large screens to show the movies on, and home movie projectors are all about. By the same token they will not know what having picture negatives, to keep up with to be able to get copies for other people, is all about. They can simply take and store pictures on their cell phones and upload them to the cloud. With mp3 players they don’t have to have to use walk men to be able to carry their favorite songs with them. 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. Some are even available to be used on tablets, if the tablet is powerful enough.
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 which one is better than another, and how they have helped me. 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.
But even more amazing than the computers are the advances that are being made in the medical field. It is possible these days to have many surgeries with incisions that are only one or two inches long, instead of having to be cut open with incisions that are six inches or larger. Granted there are still surgeries that require large incisions to be made, but most surgeries are much simpler than what they used to be. Even the tools that are being used today are much more advanced than they were years ago.
There is the Gamma Knife, that uses gamma radiation to perform very delicate brain surgery.
The Socrates robot(I think that’s what his name is) can perform many different types of surgeries. It has many different arms, that can be manipulated in many ways. There is no way that human arms can possibly make all of the different moves that the robot’s arms can make. This is just to mention a couple of technological advances in the surgery field.
Even imaging has come a tremendous way. When I was growing up, the only imaging device possible to see anything inside of a person was the x-ray machine. When the ultrasound machine came out, people could not believe that such a great machine had been invented. The first ones were done on pregnant women, after about four month gestation, to check on the baby and its development. This was back in the 1950s. It was in the early 1970s when I had my first ultrasound. The next imaging device that I was aware of was the CT scan. My first one was in the mid to late 1970s. Next for me was the MRI, and I had my first one of those in the mid 1990s. I know that there are PET scanners, but as of yet I have not had to have one of those. Unfortunately, I have had too many of all of the others to keep count. I have had to have video imaging done on my bladder and kidneys, but I don’t know which one of the technologies was used for that process.
These imaging devices eliminate a lot of, what used to be called “exploratory surgery”. The surgeries that were done when the doctors knew that something was bad wrong, but did not know what, and had to find out to save a person’s life.
I am a true living miracle of technology. For I have an artificial bladder. My first bladder surgery was done in 1997. It was to have a supra pubic catheter placed directly into my bladder. I have a neurogenic bladder, and therefore was unable to tell when it was necessary to go to the bathroom, and when I would just go, because I knew I was bound to have to go, I was unable to do so. The first time it happened was on my birthday, March 22, 1997. I happened to already be in the hospital foe a different reason. It was 10:30 PM and I had not gone to the restroom since 7:30 AM. I knew that I was bound to have to go. I tried to go, but was unable to do so. I told the nurses, and they immediately had to catheterize me. To their amazement, 1,000cc came out. They told me that they were going to have to kink off the catheter or my bladder would go into all kinds of spasms. About half an hour later, they came back and released the kink in the catheter, and another 1,000cc came out. Once again they had to kink off the catheter. Half an hour later, they repeated the process. This time, only 800cc came out. The nurses told me that I was lucky to be alive. They went on to say that the normal bladder feels the urge to release at 600cc and can hold 800cc. They said that I was lucky that my bladder had not ruptured and killed me from peritonitis. Once a bladder ruptures, the person is usually dead within 24 hours. A Foley catheter was inserted and had to remain until my first surgery on April 18, 1997.
I was a very active person, and was attending the community college for a computer degree. After three years, the catheter started rubbing the inside of my bladder and making it bleed. The doctors knew something had to be done. I had finished school and was working full time. As you can see from the picture of me at work, I have many medical problems, but I try not to let them get me down. I’m not going to go into any detail here.
On November 2, 2000, I received my artificial bladder. The bladder was made from my intestines. They took the part where the large and small intestines meet. That is the only place in the intestines where there was a sphincter that would open and close like the bladder needed to be able to do. In December of 2000 I had to have a knee replacement. While I was recuperating from the surgery, the opening to my bladder closed up. I had to have a catheter inserted into my urethra until the next surgery could be done. The doctors had to release me from the knee surgery before I could have the bladder surgery. In March of 2001, I had the bladder surgery.
I returned to work April 18, 2001. From what I have been told, of all of the people that received an artificial bladder in 2000, only a handful were still .living in 2003. Now I am the only surviving person that received an artificial bladder in 2000. November 2, 2016 will be 16 years. Were it not for technological advances, I would not be alive today. I am so thankful for technology and all of the advances that I have been able to enjoy, and will continue to enjoy for years to come.