Toasters, toaster ovens, microwave ovens…Vinyl records, 8 track and cassette tapes, CD and MP3…boom boxes, Walkman, Discman, IPod…There were 3 network television stations plus one or two local stations that everyone watched and they were all free. Now there are some 500 stations to choose from and you have to pay for reception to watch any.
They’re not only inevitable, but a natural progression of life. We start out as babies, grow into toddlers, teens, then adults – at least chronologically.
Memory typewriters, Vydec, Wang word processors….Gone baby gone…Baud to kbs to Mbs, 5.25, 3.5 floppy disks, CD drives, flash drives, external drives and the cloud…28.8, 56.6 modems, DSL, cable, wireless connectivity…Hard drives used to be the size and weight of a car battery and held maybe 10 megs of data (including the OS). Before the mid 1980s desktop PCs were only used in the workplace – and not on every desk. Some of us had to share and there were timesharing programs that we used from a terminal connecting to a mainframe. Those of us who used computers were of a small, select group. Because in the beginning was the command line. And DOS. No GUIs, menus, icons, multiple screens, and mice were merely rodents you didn‘t want in your home or office. And they were either IBM machines or IBM ‘clones‘. No Dell, Gateway, HP, Acer, Apple. No Windows OS – any version…no public internet. Home users bought the Commodore 64 for a computer to replace their electric typewriters and Atari consoles to play Pac-Man and Space Invaders, while geeks were playing Adventure and Tetris at the office, sending email within their company, creating and updating databases and spreadsheets in addition to writing code and documentation. And we wanted to meet the person who wrote the code for Adventure…Now most households have at least one computer and desktops are almost considered antiques. Laptops, notebooks, tablets and pads – none made of paper. Personal websites and blogs abound and geeks are getting outsourced faster than the technology changes.
All of these changes have occurred during my adult years. And the changes keep coming faster than the grey hairs….
Gasoline prices are up, auto mileage is down. Compact cars that used to get nearly 40 mpg were discontinued while newer models are touted as seating seven, have home theaters, docking stations, GPS, satellite radio and Bluetooth, while getting a whopping 24 mpg. If you really need to commute with your house, why not just drive an RV? Hummers? If you really want to drive a tank, join the army. They’d love to have you sign up. “Be all that you can be.”
The art of letter writing has been replaced with email and tweets of OMG, LOL and WTF. Rotary phones (basic black) were updated with push button and your choice of style and color. Portable car phones were originally the size of a man’s large shoe. Cordless phones, cell phones, cell phones with cameras and internet and software applications and now you have to sign a contract for service. So much for the FCC’s decree to service providers for portability – in the 1990s. Backlash perhaps? Videoconferencing is not just for the corporate office conference room, videophones never really developed. Skype is available to the masses.
Brownies, instamatic, Polaroid, 8mm home movies of youth became 35mm, slides, camcorder video, digital point and shoot, DSLR…Kodachrome is no more. Every amateur photographer uses Photoshop or some variation thereof to compensate for their lack of expertise. Photo albums are found on Flickr, Snapfish, Shutterfly, et al instead of printing physical books…Some 30 years after the Beatles broke up they were resurrected as the Beatles – The Rock Band. Actors became politicians. Politicians became actors. Rock stars have been knighted (Sir Paul is 70!), others became corporations selling stock in themselves.
Companies have bought each other out (leveraging)., and the merger of Exxon-Mobil put an end to the Seven Sisters of the oil industry. Others changed their names (US Steel, American Telephone & Telegraph Co.) to acronyms (USX, ATT). Acronyms replaced words in personal and professional writing. I used to keep a binder at work that listed all the acronyms and their definitions we used at the company – updated monthly…The USSR split into 15 countries, Yugoslavia into 7, Czechoslovakia into 2. The Berlin Wall is no more so referring to East Germany as opposed to West Germany is a colloquialism. North Vietnam and South Vietnam unified into a single Vietnam. British Honduras changed its name to Belize. Burma officially changed its name to Myanmar, but the US doesn’t recognize it by the new name. Countries market bonds in themselves…Is it any wonder that today‘s children are failing geography in school? And Pluto is no longer considered a planet in our solar system, merely a Disney cartoon dog.
Public phones are nearing extinction. First went the coin boxes and slots and checking them for change. And instead of emergency phones on the highways, there are electronic signs flashing emergency phone numbers. Not useful without a phone or available cell signal…Movie theaters became multiplexes. Popcorn became super-sized and super-priced. An entire generation has never experienced drive-in theaters – the perfect make-out spot where the cops didn’t bust you. Especially in their last gasping days when they showed B horror movies. The speakers – if you found one that worked – provided terrible sound, but you could bring your own snacks and beverages, recline your seats (in some cars), or hop in back and put your feet up on the front seats. Some towns now have ‘movies in the park’ during the summer season, but there is no privacy and they only show G-rated movies…VHS, DVD, on demand. download and streaming changed date night from a social activity to a private one.
The franc, pound, deutsche mark and the lire (among others) were replaced by the Euro. The stock market has crashed more than once. Bankruptcy is commonplace. The Dick & Jane books were discontinued. Hooked on Phonics, Project Literacy….Reading skills are down, education costs keep rising…School buses have seatbelts. Schools have air-conditioning and students get ‘heat days’ in addition to ‘snow days’ off…Little League is coed…The Everglades have practically been paved over, apparently with the chant “If we build it, they will come.” The housing market went bust. And Floridians should not be surprised to find ‘gators in their backyards and that they continually have droughts… News is available 24/7, as are shopping and entertainment opportunities…ATMs, direct deposit, online banking. Online and electronic bill paying – originally free due to paper and postage savings…Roach coaches have become food trucks. The Challenger and SSTs came and went and I swear bathrooms on airplanes have become smaller…The dot com bust, McMansions, McDreamy, political correctness, virtual reality, reality programming.
They’re exhausting. Of course people are stressed and not getting enough sleep. We’re busy transferring data from media to media, converting photo formats, using every outlet in the house to recharge batteries for phones, cameras, laptops, power tools trying to keep up…I know I am exhausted, and I’m not even close to retirement age. I haven’t covered all the changes I’ve seen. Some simply are not optional.
When I need to recharge myself, I head for the beach, pull up a piece of sand, watch the waves roll in and listen to the laughter of the seagulls. No ads flashing across my view, no audio/video clips automatically assaulting me. No batteries or electrical outlets needed. No wi-fi hotspots. No worries about power surges or outages.
Excuse me while I go off in search of incandescent light bulbs.