The world of technology has undergone an amazing revolution in my lifetime. Things that I thought were incredible in my youth have come and gone in the world. I’m sure that there were dramatic changes in technology across lots of other generations, but I wonder if they were as dramatic for others as they feel for me.
As I watch older movies, I’m amazed at the evolutions. I was watching an older sitcom recently and saw someone using a cordless phone. While we have these cordless mobile devices, there was a time when having a phone in my house that wasn’t tethered to a spot on the wall was incredible. And I haven’t seen one of these in years.
My Mother worked in real estate and getting an answering machine was critical technology for growing her business. These were essential in every home for a long time (along with call waiting). First tape-based, then SSD, but now these devices are really gone and exist in the cloud. Now you get voice mail and call waiting on a mobile device. Does anyone have an answering machine anymore? For that matter, are there still public phones? I’ve seen a few booths in my travels, but they seem to be mostly standing as tourist attractions for pictures or repurposed as small libraries or wi-fi hotspots.
One of my big career steps was working with an import company that lived off faxes. When I was there, we went from a single computer-based fax service to upgraded multi-line fax add-in boards with not only digital fax reception but the OCR of the actual recipient to email the images to the appropriate department. It was an amazing job where I learned a lot about imaging and large-scale storage of data. I know there are companies that still have fax machines, but emailing images around seems to have overtaken this in much of the world.
We still have mainframes and lots of older applications, but one piece of software I expected to see around was Lotus Notes. I know some people might still use it, but IBM doesn’t support it. They’ve outsourced. I guess a lot of software I used early in my career is gone: Ami Pro, WordPerfect, Lotus 1-2-3, and more.
Maybe one interesting device my wife loved was a Palm Pilot. There were lots of PDAs for a while, but the advances in mobile phones completely did away with that category of devices. I’m actually still amazed that Blackberry couldn’t survive the transition to screen-based devices. For a time it felt like everyone in business carried one around.
Hard disks and tape changers seem to be fading, though I’m sure someone still uses them. Anyone bought a tape drive for their personal or business use anytime in the last few years? Or for that matter, do you still use CDs or floppy disks anymore? VHS tapes? Dot-matrix printers?
What about a modem? The sound of a modem connecting was both amazing for me as a young man and an annoying sound early in my career. Same for pagers. I loved getting one but hated carrying it. While there might be these devices in use somewhere, for the most part this technology has been removed from our lives.
Perhaps one of my favorite devices, which came late and died quickly, was the iPod. I had a few digital music players, but they were hard to manage. The iPod was revolutionary, and I had quite a few over the years. I still have a waterproof Shuffle I use when I swim, but for the most part, these devices are just memories.
What tech do you miss, or remember fondly? Or perhaps, what old tech do you still work with that you enjoy?
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