This year my daughters turn 18 and 21.
I was thinking about all the changes that have occurred in one generation and what life was like when I was their age.
I decided to write a series of articles and reflect on these changes. The biggest change has been in technology. How many of these changes have been beneficial and which changes have been for the worse? Mostly I will write about technology change, highlight the wonderful things and gripe about the down side of change.
When I turned 21 mobile phones did not exist. People could only be contacted at home or in their workplace. Yes it was possible to be uncontactable for long stretches of times. I think the text message is more revolutionary and useful than mobile phone calls. Now we all have mobile phones and can be contacted nearly everywhere.
The personal computer had not been created. I completed my computer science course using terminals (with paper printouts) connected to a very powerful computer in the computer centre on campus. Now we all have our own computers connected to the internet through a wireless network.
The Internet started in the 1960s but only became commercialised in the 1990s. I first had access to the Internet in my office using a dial-up modem giving us access to email, file transfers and USENET news. Now the Internet is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in our home and on the go using “smart” phones.
Portable music players have now developed to the point that you can carry your entire music collection in your pocket. The ability to rip Compact discs to a compressed format means an entire music library can be stored as a stream of bits on a memory chip and disk drive. When I was 18 I owned about 20 records and 40 cassette recordings made from my friends’ records.
A camera was a device which required purchasing film, taking 24 or 36 photographs then taking the film to a photolab for printing. After spending over $25 on film and processing you had one (or maybe) two sets of photos which were then stored in albums, accumulating more space on the shelves. Now we use digital cameras and the pictures can be sent by email, put on web sites, printed, modified with Photoshop or GIMP and easily stored.
In my next article I will write about the death of the newspaper and how I get my news.