by Mark Ollig
During this week of Thanksgiving, many of us will be among family and friends.
We take time to pause and think of the people and things in our lives we are thankful for.
Being this is a technology column (with a sprinkling of self-deprecating humor yours truly likes to throw in), I thought it would be fitting to reflect upon some of the technology we can be thankful for.
When one pauses to think, it is surprising how immersed we have become with using technology in our daily lives during the last 20 years.
These days, the number of high-tech devices might seem overwhelming; however, here is an interesting perspective I would like to share with you.
Not long ago, I saw two photographs; one displaying high-tech devices used in 1993, and another showing what we regularly use today in 2013.
The first photograph showed eight devices sitting on a table we commonly used in 1993.
It displayed an OmniBook 300 laptop computer, a portable (although somewhat clunky) VCR recorder, a Motorola cellphone (otherwise known as “the brick”), an LCD watch, Walkman cassette AM-FM radio, Apple’s Newton Message Pad (or Notepad), a belt-worn pocket pager, and what appeared to be a Polaroid Vision Instamatic camera.
Those of us who used these devices usually had one concern in the back of our minds: did we have an ample supply of batteries on hand?
The second photograph displayed only one device: an Apple iPhone.
Of course, the two photographs deliver a message which makes perfect sense.
It causes one to realize just how far technology has come in the last 20 years; with the point being the small hand-held iPhone (and similar smartphones) has made things much easier in our lives by performing all the functions those eight separate devices provided for us in 1993.
Here’s a list of various technologies and popular devices we’ve seen during the last 20 years that some of us may be thankful for:
Talkboy cassette recorder, 1993
Sony Walkman WM-EX606 (cassette model), 1993
Internet search engine: ALIWEB, 1993
DirecTV Satellite TV, 1994
Google Blogger, 1994
Bluetooth wireless, 1994
Sony PlayStation 1, 1995
GPS devices (public use), 1996
Motorola Flip-Phone, 1996
Pioneer DVD-R disc, 1997
MPMan F10 Portable MP3 player, 1998
Panasonic portable DVD player, 1998
HP optical computer mouse, 1998
TiVo Digital Video Recorder, 1999
IBM USB flash or “thumb” drive, 2000
IBM multi-core processors, 2001
Apple iPod, 2001
Mozilla Firefox Web browser, 2002
Blackberry smartphone, 2002
Microsoft Pocket PC , 2003
Samsung OLED TV, 2004
Microsoft Xbox 360, 2005
Twitter , 2006
Apple iPhone, 2007
Kindle e-book reader, 2007
Roku Internet video-streaming receiver box , 2008
Apple iPad, 2010
Trakdot Luggage Tracker , 2013
Sony Smartwatch 2, 2013
Google Glass , 2013
Let’s also not forget the technology which allows us to navigate over the network-of-networks: The Internet.
Many think of the Internet more as a place, rather than a complex arrangement of physical technological devices; however, the operation of the Internet is made possible in part because of the technology contained inside these devices.
Gateway devices such as routers send data messages through the network connections inside the Internet.
Fiber optic cables provide the physical transport layers and signaling pathways needed for us to access the Internet’s many interconnected networks.
We need to be thankful to Sir Tim Berners-Lee for his creation of the HyperText Markup Language (HTML) software code, which brought the World Wide Web onto the Internet.
Vinton Cerf and Robert Khan can be thanked for designing the TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) communication software code. TCP/IP ensures data is not lost while being transmitted between networking devices and computers over the Internet.
In March 1976, the telecommunications industry was thankful as it celebrated the centennial of Alexander Graham Bell’s contribution of a technology called the telephone – which, of course, changed how the world communicated.
Bell’s invention was also responsible for the founding of many locally-owned rural telephone companies all across the country.
Thirty-seven years ago, in March 1976, when my hometown’s telephone company was owned and operated by our family, my father was asked by the local paper to make a comment about Bells’ invention.
“I am thankful he [Bell] invented the telephone. If he hadn’t, I would have probably ended up in the Pony Express business; and that would have presented a problem for me because I can’t ride a horse,” I recall my father jokingly saying as the reporter smiled.