It seems not too long ago for me that “car phones,” for all intents and purposes, didn’t exist. We called them car phones because that’s where the phone was. In the car. It needed a large, heavy battery to be portable (that was a bag phone) or needed to run off of the 12 volts provided by the car. Don’t even get me started about antennas.
Now, everyone carries their phone in their pocket. My wife and I don’t have a house phone. I have my phone and she has her phone. This is actually something I dreamed of in the late 70s/early 80s when I first learned of cordless phones. I was so disappointed when I learned it needed a base station plugged into the wall jack.
A friend recently posted a picture on facebook of her son standing in a phone booth. A real glass-walled, close the door, claustrophobic, Superman dressing room phone booth. I made a “what be that strange device” comment on the picture and she responded that her son asked if he could get in it because he never had.
So, without further ado, here is a brief list of the things I now realize that I take for granted:
- Television remote control. There were remote controlled TVs when I was young but only the richest people we knew had one. Our remote control was my father yelling, “Joe, go change the channel.” Or “John, you’re closest to the TV, turn up the volume a little bit, please.”
- The Compact Disc – which is now on the endangered species list – I remember one of the local radio stations having someone bring one in and tie it into their broadcast board. I listened on my father’s stereo (which, BTW, had quadrophonic sound) but didn’t hear much difference because, well, radio propagates through the air and picks up a certain amount of… doesn’t matter. I was blown away (almost literally by canon blasts in the 1812 overture coming through a massive pair of subwoofers) the first time I heard a CD player demonstrated live.
- Digital music. Real music. Not tones generated by the computer itself.
- MP3 players – In my day, we had the Sony Walkman portable cassette player
- Satellite broadcasting, cable TV, satellite TV, HDTV
- the universal serial bus (heh, take that one back to 1982 and people might think you’re talking about a spaceship shaped like a bus where you can have breakfast on your way to work)
- laptop computers – heck, personal computers, wireless networking, the internet for crying out loud, and even podcasts.
The list goes on and on for each generation. Looking back at all of these awesomely cool devices I think it will be interesting to see what is groundbreaking to us today (or tomorrow) that we take for granted in 5 years.