Historical Moments in Technology


Can you spot the next big technology craze? What is the thing that will just blow its lid off in the Pop culture or the stock market? I have been doing it for years – my instincts tell me that something is going to be big. Truthfully, I interpret that feeling, as “something that I think is really cool” but nobody else would have that much interest in it. The feeling goes away and I never do anything else about it, or if I do, it is usually the wrong thing.


If you grew up having to use a slide rule, calculators were great. I think Texas Instruments did pretty well. They let kids use calculators in classrooms these days you know.

Video Games

The first video game was Pong. How were we supposed to know that just because we played a very slow, by today’s standards, video ping-pong game on a TV screen that our kids would later play these wildly complicated things? We spent hours playing Pong too – it was a real blast. Most Dads refuse to play the video games with their grown kids today because they think they “can’t win”. That is because when Dad was off working the kids were spending Hours and Hours and Hours playing these games. You get good after that much practice.

Fax Machines

This was just unbelievable. Somebody actually believed words from a piece of paper could whisk off through thin air. There was no way that was going to work. Well I believe, I believe and Disney has always been my man. Anything is possible with a little imagination! Actually, the first Fax Machine was patented in 1843 by Alexander Bain. “However, fax machines did not become popular… until the 1980’s.” (http://inventors.about.com/od/bstartinventors/a/fax_machine.htm)


I worked on PC’s before anybody gave a hoot about them; way back then you had to look at green letters on a black screen and keep up with boring financial information. Then the first time I saw a PC in a magazine with a color screen and pictures I just about dropped a jaw. I could not get enough information. However, instead of buying a stock I bought one of those expensive computers before the price went down. I marveled at this new amazing glimpse into a world of opportunities, but I became disillusioned after a while. Perhaps I have been looking at all the wrong websites.

Word Processors

How many times did I stay up all night in college trying to get the stupid typewriter to type the right stuff? “Whiteout” just made a mess and by 3:00 am I was up to my neck in crumpled paper. I might have stuck around a while longer, in college, if I had had one some technology to help me out a bit. And I am not talking about some odd thing on an old electric typewriter. I am talking about a Microsoft Works Word Processor, Notepad, or something like that. I can copy and paste, check my grammar, check my spelling, and if all goes well I have not done anything silly that even the machine cannot fix.

Computer (Data, Video, Photo, and Music) Storage

This is a Warning! Computer storage changes rapidly. If you expect to be able to view grandma’s pictures on that CD even five years from now you may be mistaken. In thirty years data storage has gone from hardcopy, 8 inch floppy discs, to 5.25 floppy discs, to 3.5 inch floppy discs, Zip drive, to cassette (new computers don’t play cassette’s), to website storage (which is never guaranteed), CD’s, to personal media drives, to memory sticks. Video has gone from film to VHS, to CD-ROM, to Digital Video, to DVD. Photographs have gone from touchable to digital. Music has gone from albums to 8-tracks, to cassettes, to CD’s, to MP3’s, to iPod’s, TO iPhones. See also The History of Storage Devices.

It’s a Tool (Technology) Don’t Let It Rule

Do you really think there’s anything more lasting or memorable than the printed page, a photograph, a painting, or a group of people that can read music and play the notes and sing the songs, a real landscape or a real game of ping-pong. Do not let the virtual totally take over your reality. Technology is a tool, not the rule.