Yesterday I turned (3×18) which didn’t feel like a milestone year. Certainly 2014 hasn’t been the best year of my life. But an email from a long time reader sparked my interest. He asked me “what are the innovations you’ve seen in your life that had the most impact.”
A great question and one that deserves an answer. I won’t say it’s a great answer because it is far to early in the am for great answers.
Innovations in my lifetime that are amazing:
The delayed conversations between Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Housing in the summer of 1969. I remember sitting on a couch at 2 am listening to the first steps on the moon. My dad was there with me. He explained the gap between speaking, and responding. “It takes time for sound to travel from earth to the moon and back.” My father traveled the world at a time when you didn’t often call home ($$) so he sent letters that took four, five days and beyond to arrive. Some arrived in the post after he got home. Can you imagine traveling 286,000 miles and relying only on a two-way radio? They did, heroes they were.
Apple Computers Apple IIc, it changed the way I viewed computers. Certainly there were many computers to come that would modify the world around them but that first commercial that first Apple IIC in the end changed everything for me.
DVR. Three words that changed television forever. When I was little if you wanted to see a show, a specific show you had better be on the couch ready to watch when the clock hit the time of that show. Football and basketball games for me drove what I did for years. Now, the DVR let’s me control time. I watch when I want to watch.
Cellular phones are the next big thing. I remember carrying the bag phone, because in the parts of Ohio I traveled in your needed a booster or you wouldn’t have cellular signal. I got a car kit for my phone later that was also a booster and integrated with the car so you could talk hands free. I saw holding the phone to your face as risky in 1996. I traveled the world starting in 2001. The difference from when my dad traveled is that I could at worst call home once a day. No lag like the Apollo astronauts simply the warm voice on the other end of the connection.
The laser printer simply the most amazing tool when you consider the output of the digital world, the inkjet came along soon after and made color printing affordable. I remember the days of the old dot matrix printers. the Apple ImageWriter that if you got the scanning module was both a printer (daisy chain and dog slow) and a scanner. The laser printer changed all of that.
USB. As much as the three letters DVR changed the world of television, USB changed the world of computing. In the apple computer world we lived by SCSI. You could link together as many as 7 devices (and later 14) on the SCSI bus. That was painful, required careful planning and you had better have the right terminator at the end of the chain. USB made adding things to your computer much easier. You simply plug it in. Many devices just work thereafter.
Home Game Consoles. Be it Nintendo, Xbox or PlayStation the home console changed gaming forever. In the 1990’s we played computer games. I had a number of them (my favorites are listed below)
- Playmaker football
- Sim Earth
- Dr J vs. Larry Bird
But when the home console arrived things changed forever. Games started getting better and better. In fact they are amazing now. I do miss the old days of the games I loved. I tried the new SimCity but it just wasn’t as fun as I remembered.
It is a fun list of innovations. They each impacted the world and me personally. They changed the way things were considered, done and ultimately what was done. What will be was but will be again to quote Arnold Horshak.