Technology

original phone
This Western Electric phone is so modern it has buttons. I still use it, but now it’s on a VOIP (digital) line.

Technology has been changing rapidly since I was born — in the days of computers that used punched cards, cars that used carburetors, and phones with rotary dials (that you could rent out for ten cents). I’ve never used punched cards in a computer, but I have used mainframes with terminals — including one operated over a 300 baud acoustic modem.

I started using a Mac as a replacement for a typesetter (printing to a laser printer with the smallest possible margins, at 80%.) When PageMaker came out, the student newspaper replaced the typesetting machine with two Macs and a laser printer to save around $12,000 in consumables and leases per year, while doubling the number of seats. I was one of the first to have a site on the Web; I’d been using Gopher for research (Mac with a modem) and started playing with this Web thing before graphical tools came out.

I’m not even particularly old! But I’ve seen computing power that would have required a Wal-Mart filled with computers and storage systems fit into something you can slip into your pocket, complete with a digital camera (the quality of which nobody had in the 1970s or, probably, in the 1980s) and, um, a telephone… of sorts. Then we call the result “underpowered.”

Technology is always changing rapidly and is always disruptive — ever since James Watt improved the steam engine. The pace has been increasingly fast. It’s getting annoying, really.


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