The other day, as parents are wont to do, I was thinking about what kind of world my daughter is going to live in when she grows up.
Then, after I stopped screaming and unfurled myself from fetal position on the floor, I started thinking about some of the technological miracles that have been released since I was a kid, and how now they’re completely humdrum and integrated into daily life.
So without further ado, a roughly chronological top ten list of cool technologies that have become “invisible:”
Remember the first time you got your hands on a Walkman? And realized you could bring 90 minutes of whatever music you wanted with you wherever you went? No more waiting for the bus in silence or being forced to listen to the blather of strangers—you could rock your Def Leppard anywhere.
You didn’t have to go to a movie theater anymore, oh no. And if you needed to be somewhere else when your favorite show came on you could record it … and … watch it later. Whoa.
Of course, back in the early days, programming a VCR was arcane knowledge restricted only to teenage nerds with acne, but if you were one, all kinds of time shifting was suddenly possible.
3 Debit Card
Remember when you had to plan ahead when you were going shopping to make sure you actually had enough cash on hand to purchase whatever it was you needed? And you would keep your gold coins in a handy leather purse tied to your belt and carry a stave to knock robbers over the heads.
Ah, that sucked.
4 Remote Control
Yes, children, there was a time when you had to get out of the couch to change the channel. Fortunately, there were only two channels so you didn’t have to get up much anyway.
And the in-dash CD player in your car most assuredly did not have a remote control. As a matter of fact, you did not have a CD player, period, as they hadn’t been invented yet.
5 Microwave oven
There was a dark time (known as the entirety of human history) when you would have to wait longer than five minutes for food to cook.
6 Cordless phone
Phones used to be stuck to the walls. There was no talking on the phone on the patio. No, there wasn’t.
7 The Graphical User Interface
I have no mouse and I must scream…
(Yes, sure, Real Men use the Terminal, but it is pretty dang nice to have things like WYSIWYG, isn’t it?)
8 Cell phone
Not only could you not take your regular phone with you on the patio, but as soon as you were more than screaming distance from your home or office, you would have no idea somebody was calling you.
This was not always a bad thing.
9 The Internet
Back in 1990, I was at the University of Louisiana and heard about this Internet thing. Apparently there was free stuff on there and more things to read than you could ever hope to get through. So I got a 1,200 Baud modem and a copy of Kermit for my Mac Classic and went to town.
Connecting to the University of Michigan FTP server from my bedroom was the closest to a religious experience I ever had. Really.
Remember the first time you got online on a laptop without any cables? It’s the fuuuuuutuuuuure.
I re-read Neuromancer in the early nineties and was annoyed that in the book people could connect to cyberspace pretty much wherever they were without any wires. Boy, William Gibson sure overlooked that little modem detail, I thought.
Turns out that I’m an idiot and William Gibson is a prophet.
Posted Thursday, 28 September, 2006 by Nic Lindh
Another book roundup, including some stellar athletes and soldiers, what might be the most jaded, soul-weary protagonist ever, and some grimdark fantasy.
The Internet is getting creepy, and Nic is breaking out his tinfoil hat after newspaper paywalls push him over the edge.
Nic is tired of tech sites obsessing over Apple’s financials and business strategy. So very tired.
Nic reads a book about the processed food industry and is incensed.
Computers are complicated. This brings out the irrational in people.
Nic proposes the loan word Rechthaberei be incorporated into American English.
The Core Dump is back! Books were read during the hiatus. Includes The Coldest Winter, Oh, Myyy!, Tough Sh*t, The Revolution Was Televised, The Rook, Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, Gun Machine, Fortress Frontier, Standing in Another Man’s Grave, and The Memory of Light.
This site will return in February.
From a true patriot to a world-weary detective, a dead god, and a civilization about to sublime from the galaxy, this book roundup spans the gamut. Includes Where Men Win Glory, Wild, Inside the Box, The Black Box, Three Parts Dead, Red Country, and The Hydrogen Sonata.
Springsteen gives a concert in Phoenix. It’s fantastic.