This week, let’s welcome my partner in crime, my wife Missy to the newsletter for a guest submission! She loves making stuff and has a big hand in organizing Podcamp Pittsburgh X these days! You can follow her on Twitter as @rebelliousflaw.
I consider myself one of the “lucky” people – you know, one of the ones bridging the technology gap between my parents’ generation and those a decade or more younger than I am. When I look at how I spent my youth, it involved technology my parents had never seen or even thought of when they were my age. Like many kids growing up in the 80s I saw the evolution of the home computer. How many of us remember the Tandy? What about the Atari home gaming system?
At the time the Tandy and Atari were making their way onto the scene it was like we were living in a sci-fi world. Who would have thought that in just a couple of decades we would have more powerful gadgets, like cellphones, literally in the palms of our hands?
I’m on Facebook. (Of course I’m on Facebook. Just about everyone’s on Facebook these days.) I love seeing the pictures of old technology crop up with “Share if you remember this,” emblazoned across the image. My brother-in-law, for instance, is about a decade younger than I am. I remember when he first saw the rotary phone hanging on the wall in our basement. He knew what it was, because he had seen one before. But, he had never used one, and had no idea how to make it work. The phone literally came with our house when we purchased it. I kept it on the wall as it is handy to have something that doesn’t require electricity to operate – for those instances where the power goes out, like it did with Snowmageddon in 2010. It doesn’t happen often, but it does. Our power was out for about two days while we were snowed in during Snowmageddon. Folks with wireless phones – requiring power to operate, were a little SOL during the power outage. Even cellphones require a charge to operate, and being without power meant being without heat. The cellphone batteries zapped even faster in the cold, making it a 50/50 chance whether I would be able to make a call from it. Knowing that we had a way to reach the outside world if we needed to helped ease the situation.
It’s my brother-in-law’s reaction to the rotary phone that made me realize just how unique my generation has it. Our parents are learning technology in their later years. (Teaching my dad to use an iPhone, for instance, has been one of the greatest experiences for me.) The current generation grew up with cellphones and handheld video games. It’s our generation that has seen the technology go from Point A to Point B. I remember how excited I was to get the new NES in the mid 80s. My siblings and I saved up money to buy one, because that was what we really wanted. We were so excited by the 8-bit Mario and the side scrolling game play. And, then Nintendo came out with the Gameboy! I remember the green screen. There was no multi-color. It was a modified version of black and white. My brother-in-law? He had a Gameboy color.
It’s not just the physical technology that has changed (i.e. size of electronic devices, and black and white versus color screens). The way the technology works has markedly advanced. Cellphones in the early 1980s were HUGE. They had to be. And, they could only make phone calls. Today, cellphones are a fraction of the size and contain more computing power than a computer from the 1980s the size of a small college campus (because they had to be that large to function back then). My iPhone has a better processor than my first computer. It is faster. The graphics are way prettier. And, it is smaller than my television remote.
No matter how I look at it, I think my generation has a pretty sweet spot in the timeline of human evolution. And, we have a few more decades to continue to be involved in the growth and adaptation of the ever-changing technology we’ve watched develop since we were kids. I’m looking at virtual reality becoming an actual thing. And, I’m stoked about it!
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Here’s what we have this week: Read the rest of this newsletter here!