Friday, October 08, 2010

Flashback Friday: Technology of the past

Jeremy fulfilled the great dream of his life yesterday by purchasing an iPhone. I haven't had a lot of time to look at it yet, but so far that thing is like magic to me. Pure magic. I don't understand how it is possible for it to exist and do all the things that it can do. I better stick with my predictive text Nokia flip-phone until I do.

It got me thinking: as amazing as the iPhone is right here, right now, wouldn't it have been even more mind-boggling ten years ago? Here are some technologies from my childhood and young adult years that seemed so cutting edge at the time but have since become commonplace or even obsolete.

Computers. We had a computer in my house growing up for as long as I can remember. It was one of those really boxy computers with a small black screen that could only show green pixellated text. It ran MS-DOS and you had to type in stuff like C: and chk dsk and Run and all kinds of jibberish. Still, I thought it was super high tech (and for its time, I'm sure it was) because it had a touch-sensitive screen. Interesting that while the touch-screen thing went passé for a while, it's back now in a big way with these fancy smartphones.

And don't even get me started on laptops. I got my first laptop when I left for the BYU in 1999 and I thought it was the sleekest, trimmest computing machine there was. I got another look at it about five years after I stopped using it and then it seemed like a hunk of thick plastic with a tiny screen.

Texting. When I was in Japan in 2000, my host sister had a cell phone. No big deal; we had those in America, too. But she could do this fancy thing where she pressed the keys to generate text and then sent that text - almost like an email!! - to the recipient. I thought it was soooo neat. It was called texting, and it hit the States a year or two later. And now you're behind the times if you're still doing the key-pressing thing. It's all about QWERTY keyboards. Sigh.

Cell phones. Remember what they used to look like?

Enough said.

Speaking of cell phones, remember car phones? Somewhere on I-90 near Syracuse there was an old road sign saying you that to report an accident, you could dial a certain number on your CAR PHONE. What is this, 1991?

When I was a freshman or sophomore in high school, we learned about Tamagotchi in Japanese class. We all eagerly awaited the day when they would come to America. And then we went and bought some. I thought they were pretty smart but now they seem so low-tech.

Finally, when I was in kindergarten I remember my older brothers having a watch that you could play Super Mario Brothers on. Did this really exist? It seems too strange for me to have made up.

Hooray for obsolete and now useless technology!


Crys said...

The keyboard makes texting so much easier :) What can I say. I never thought I'd text but now it is the easiest way to get ahold of Jason. A call he can almost never answer. A text he can reply to on the downlow :) So Jason has an itouch that he uses at the hospital and when he got it, we hated it...all the weird little things you had to do to work it. Then he got a blackberry to check his e-mail on and now we are like, hello we need an iphone because the blackberry and the internet are just not good friends. Of course need is so subjective right :) My point is I'm happy for your hubby. Maybe someday when my whole family isn't tied to T-mobile I too can have an awesome phone :) My father-in-law got the ipad which I thought was a total waste of space but now I'm 100% for it. I see him reading books on the thing, watching videos, chatting, playing games, answering is like the perfect time waster....I need it :)

Suzanne Bubnash said...

A wonderful tech advancement during my life has been the cordless phone. We used to be tied to the phone w/ a curly stretchy umbilical cord. Very inconvenient when all heck broke loose in another room and you had to sign off mid-call to see which child was near death. And those phones didn't even have an intercom so if you were on hold waiting for a service (such as airline reservations--yes, we had to do those by phone) you hung up & lost your spot in line, just to take care of dumb stuff.

Liz Johnson said...

I remember getting internet for the first time, and thinking how insane it was that I could send somebody a message VIA A COMPUTER and have it come back to me. Remember Compuserve? Awesome.

Jennifer said...

This is a great list. :)

I remember being blown away when I heard of the concept of wireless internet for the first time. Whoa.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

Thought of this today & laughed. In 1984 Craig's work asked employees & their families to pick what we now know as email addresses (don't know the term used then). I asked why I needed one & it was explained to me that I would be able to send a message over the computer to my husband at work. For the life of me I couldn't figure out why anyone would bother to send a message via computer, when it was much easier to pick up the phone!

Sarah said...

I remember in 3rd grade we got these little magazines called, "Weekly Readers." In one addition there was an article about something called microwaves that could cook your baked potatoe in 8 minutes. We had a huge discussion about it.... Just a few years later, we had this giant, brown box with a silver twist knob on the counter called a microwave and it worked! It cooked that darned potatoe in 8 minutes! ...amazing. Now, everyone has 'em and we heat stuff up without even thinking about it. Sarah

Kristen said...

I don't watch many commercials, thanks to DVR (oh hey, there's another one for your list--from having to be home to push Rec to carefully setting the VCR timer now to TiVo!), but I thought this was a really neat (almost beautiful) ad showing a historical timeline of technology that changed the world:


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