The decision recently was made to take down the wall-mounted phone which has hung in our kitchen for probably close to three decades.
It’s been a fixture in the house, but, with the advancements in technology, it hasn’t actually been usable for several years now as communication systems have relied more on digital and fiber technology.
I’ve often thought of the advancements in technology during my life, or, for that matter, just in the last 25 years. It’s hard to imagine there are people, including some of my peers, who have never known a world without the internet. They don’t know the struggle of having to plan out your internet usage (assuming you were blessed enough to have a home computer) because you not only had multiple people in need of using the service, but because once you were connected, you risked missing an important phone call. The sound of that dial-up connection lingers in my memories. Sometimes, it took multiple attempts to get online. Even then, it could take several minutes to load a single webpage.
Today, you don’t have to worry about being knocked offline when someone calls your home. Pages come up in seconds. An entire family can sit in the same room with multiple devices connected. Let’s face it, today, you can do all of that from your phone.
My family’s first home computer was a Commodore 64. All of the programs were stored on individual floppy disks, and you had to type in some basic coding to use them. It wasn’t as simple as clicking an icon on a screen. My first video game was Pong. Eventually, I played some Pac-Man thanks to some family trips to Pizza Hut, and then a family member had an Atari system. We thought we had a real advancement with the original Nintendo Entertainment System in the mid-1980s. Kids today would laugh at what we thought was amazing.
There was no satellite radio in your car. If you went on a long trip, your options were either to periodically scan the radio frequencies and hope there was a station in range playing music you enjoyed, or carry a case full of cassettes (later CDs). Some generations before mine didn’t even have that option. There was no radio in their cars.
There was a day your school maybe had a few televisions for all of the classes to share. They sat on large carts that could be rolled around the building, with a VCR connected. When I was around 13, our school had wall-mounted TVs placed in every room. Today, there are programs to provide each student with a digital tablet device so they can watch videos or receive assistance with their school work.
Space exploration is done more by computer these days than by people, even though the itch for manned missions to the Moon or Mars continues to exist.
We can connect with people across the country, or around the world, in minutes with email, social media and video chats. Back then, you wrote a letter and waited for them to respond.
Today, we probably don’t think much of these advancements, but much of them would have been considered elements of science fiction not too long ago. Imagine what might be available when the children of today are in our shoes.
(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)