We went to see Guardians of the Galaxy with friends and family this past weekend, and it was good fun.  And after the matinee was over, we all went out to get something to eat.  Now the range of ages in this dinner party was from age 11 to 67 and the topic of technology came up since one of our dinner companions was pleased to find out that We Are Technology does do Mobile App Development.  But the discussion did not end there with the normal, “Oh good, I will let my friend know that you can help her with that project and so forth.”  The topic eventually morphed into what technology we had when we were kids – or more accurately – what technology we did NOT have as kids.

It was at this point that our eleven year old companion that was enjoying his plate full of shrimp became more interested in the topic at hand.  We proceeded to explain to him that there were no cell phones when we were kids and that we had to go to a phone booth and pay for calls away from home.  We also explained that computers as they are now did not exist and one had to type letters and papers on a typewriter, and that it was sometimes frustrating when one made a typing error because it forced the typist to start all over again at least until liquid paper was invented.  Teachers did not have copy machines or printers available, they had to use ditto machines or mimeographs to make handouts or tests for their students.

This change in technology has probably broader implications than what is fully realized at the present time.  Anyone can now write a letter or a blog article at a moments notice and easily correct it.  The older method using a typewriter such as this Underwood was more time consuming and even a bit stressful if one were prone to typing errors.

This change in technology has probably broader implications than what is fully realized at the present time. Anyone can now write a letter or a blog article at a moments notice and easily correct it. The older method using a typewriter such as this Underwood was more time consuming and even a bit stressful if one were prone to typing errors.

All of this surprised our young companion as we proceeded to tell him more such as we only had three TV channels available.  Not all TVs were color sets and were large boxes with small screens and television shows were not on demand and could not be recorded. One had to wait for the show to come on and there was no way to replay things.  There were no video games. So as children we played outside a lot more, which he seemed to support the idea of. Apparently, he enjoys playing outside unlike a lot of children nowadays, but he was starting to get the idea that there was no Netflix, which lead to the discussion that the Internet did not exist as we know it. If you had to look something up, one had to research it from a book, which might mean a trip to the library since most people did not have reference libraries in their own home.  And just thinking about that concept as I am writing this blog, I realize how much time we save by finding the topic we need immediately by the use of search features.  I remember spending long hours reading and thumbing through books during college trying to find the information that was pertinent to the topic that I was writing about.

The eleven year old was surprised to hear how bulky the old cathode ray tube machines were and how small the screens could be.

The eleven year old was surprised to hear how bulky the old cathode ray tube machines were and how small the screens could be.

Phone_boothWe then explained that letters had to be written and sent by post office or one had to make a phone call.  We did not get into the whole long distance phone call dilemma or the fact that letters sent far distances would cost more.

Our grand list of differences that we have seen since our childhoods mounted and then I told him that digital cameras were not available.  He looked at me with some surprise as it was explained that one had to buy film, have it developed, pay for all the photos to be developed, and then there was always the risk that not all of the pictures would turn out.   Judging by his reaction I think what really bothered him was the fact that one would have to wait a week or so to get their pictures back.

Our eleven year old companion finally turned to us all and said, “I am so glad that I was not born in the last century!”

We all looked at each other.  Ages 67, 48, 41, 39 all stared at each other with the realization that we were all born in the last century! And all this time I kept thinking the last century was the 1800’s!  We all felt old and had a good laugh, but technology has really changed a great deal since we were kids in the last century, which made me think about what changes I have seen that have made a difference in my life.  And after a few minutes of consideration, I think some of my favorite technology changes are the digital camera, scanners, being able to type on the computer, do fast research with search features, and email communications with people all over the world.

So what are your favorite technological changes? We‘d love to hear about them.

Gretchen Winkler ©2014
Cumulus Technology, Inc. – the “We Are Technology” people