This morning I booted up my computer to check my emails and conduct some business on the Internet. I had a number of meetings scheduled in New York and the bus trip into town took about an hour. The bus driver paid several tolls on the way using the EZ-Pass system; on the pleasant ride into New York I was busy responding to emails on my Blackberry. Once in the New York Port Authority I needed to take the Subway to finish my trip; I used my Metrocard to pay my fare.
In my last meeting for the day a number of folks joined the conference remotely via the World Wide Web. On the bus trip home I made a number of cell phone calls while the lady sitting next to me was listening to tunes on her IPOD. When I returned home I picked up my remote control to see what was on cable TV; the first show that came up on my flat screen television was the Tom Hanks movie, “Apollo 13”.
I would say that today’s activities were quite normal: let’s look back about 50 years.
There were no personal computers; in fact there were more slide rules in use than calculators. There was no Internet and any mail was probably delivered by the US Postal Service.
There were no high speed electronic toll collecting systems on highways; drivers stopped at the toll both and paid a toll collector in cash. The New York City Subway fare was 15 cents and you bought subway tokens with money; today you purchase a Metrocard and the vending machines accept debit and credit cards. In fact, there were no debit cards or ATM machines back then; financial transactions were made at a bank with a teller.
Most household’s years ago had one phone; it was hard wired analog technology, probably black in color and was rotary dialed. Public phones were actually phone booths equipped with seats and doors; there were no cell phones or digital hand held devices. Odd as it may seem to the young folks today we were able to communicate back then.
Television was over the air transmission and the devices used vacuum tubes; you needed an antenna to pick up the few stations available. Forget about remote control! There was no cable, satellite or digital transmission, there were no VCR’s, DVD’s or flat screen sets; television sets for the most part were black and white. Music was played by stacking your vinyl records on the record player.
Words like NASA, Astronaut and Cosmonaut were new; no human had been in space let alone land on the moon. To the best of our knowledge all folks 50 years ago lived right here on earth.
MRI’s, cat scans, stents and organ transplants are common today but 50 years ago they were unheard of.
This brief essay captures only a fraction of the technological changes over the last fifty years. Technology advances for the most part have enhanced our lives; however, when the Internet line goes kaput or the computer crashes it seems like the world comes to a sudden stop. How did we survive without Prozac?