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Old 05-07-2008, 12:19 PM   #31
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Man, there's a ton of things that blew me away when I first saw them that are pretty passe now. A few of mine:

The Compact Disc (CD)-
The first time I heard a CD I was dumbfounded! One of my best friends was the first person I knew to have one. It was a wedge shaped portable model, can't recall the brand. He brought it over to my house and plugged it into my stereo and cranked up Boston's Third Stage. I couldn't believe it! The intro started very quietly and built to this thunderous crescendo, yet there was no hiss! And the whole idea of a laser reading microscopic pits seemed miraculous to me. I recall turning the disc, staring in fascination at the rainbow of light reflecting off the back. The CD revolutionized music for me and set me down the path to becoming a bigtime audio geek. But now I have about 1,000 CDs and they're no big deal.

The DVD- Another miraculous invention. The day I bought my first DVD player and hooked it up is a day I won't forget. The picture and sound were a stunning step up from VHS. The first movie I heard in Dolby Digital seemed like pure sorcery!

The Personal Computer- When I was a kid a computer meant a Commodore PET! It was a one peice thingy with the small green monochrome monitor. No graphics, just ASCII characters. No HD, no CD- there weren't even floppies back then; if you wanted to save something you plugged in a special tape recorder. When the Apple computer came along it seemed like rocket science!

As Expatgirl mentioned, it's hard to overstate how computers have changed things. When I was back in HS and college researching a report meant a trip to the library. I used to have to order stuff from the State Library; they photocopied it and mailed it out to you. The most advanced thing I had to type it up on was the (dazzling at the time) IBM Selectric electric typewriter.

Look at things now! I recently went back to school; in my Tech Writing class I did a 13 page research report on Japanese knives. I did most of my research online and conducted some interviews w/experts via e-mail without leaving my chair. I think wrote it up on my PC using OpenOffice software which automatically corrects simple mistakes and flags spelling errors. I seamlessly inserted images into the copy, and when I couldn't find an appropriate photo online I grabbed my digital camera, took a picture of a bunch of my Japanese knives and imported it into my paper. Back in HS it would have taken a professional printshop a couple weeks to do what I banged out in a few minutes.

I'm not sure what's more amazing- the degree to which technology has advanced over the last few decades or the degree to which we take it for granted.
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Old 05-07-2008, 12:21 PM   #32
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Everything listed so far has been great.

I will add remote controls. I remember sitting in my grandparents TV room when they had their remote control. It was attached to the TV with a thick wire. We thought it was the most amazing thing ever. It was the size of a box of tissues.
When I was a child, I was the remote control- just ask my Dad!
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Old 05-07-2008, 12:24 PM   #33
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Something I have noticed in my short history of coming up on 50 years is advances in technology allow more people to do more things but they just don't seem able to do these things as well.

No simple explanation for this. Mayhaps because things are becoming easier people don't pay as much attention to what their doing. Other times I think it has something to do with safety nets.

I think it also has something to do with what was written well over 100 years ago, their taking the talent and skill out of the craftsman and putting it in the machine (paraphrase). Machines really don't have soul and I think soul is missing from much of todays work.

When doing my woodwork I oftenly stop and wonder, would I be able to do these things if I had to start by straddling a log and pulling and pushing a saw. Maybe, but would I want to? No.
Some great points. Technology does allow us to do some things easily that used to require a lot of skill. But used properly it also allows us avenues of expression that we didn't have before.
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Old 05-07-2008, 12:35 PM   #34
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I have to say that digital photography is one advancement that continues to amaze me. My first camera was an Eastman Kodak Brownie.
Mine was a Kodak Instamatic. Mom and Dad got it for me so I would keep my hands off the Argus.

Then came the Poleroid and finally the SLRs. Then the photo classes and the dark room(s).

Quote:
Now I can take pictures, load them onto my computer, mail them around the world and print them in the time it used to take to load a new roll of film into the Brownie.
Amazing, isn't it?

Did you know the take up spool for the Brownie is probably more valuable than the Brownie itself? I found this out when I sold some old rolls of film on eBay.

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Did you know that the head of the U.S. Patent Office wanted to close it down in 1899 because, "Everything that can be invented has been invented?"
As a matter of fact Yes I did know that was said.

Being the person I am I suspect the true motive was removal of protections a patent offers inventors. Don't forget the era. Capitalists were (and are) out to remove any barrier to making money. Nothing wrong with making money but ....

Did you know most employment applications/ contracts stipulate intellectual properties of the employee belong to the employer?
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Old 05-07-2008, 12:56 PM   #35
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Polio Vaccine: I remember what a wonderful thing it was when the polio vaccine was discovered. Everyone in town went to the high school gym and got their little vaccine soaked sugar cube for free.
For those of you who don't remember polio, it was a terrible, paralyzing disease that killed and crippled many children and young people, and doctors had no way of treating it except for the iron lung.
One summer, we had an outbreak in our town, and a boy just a block from our house got it. All our mother's knew to do was keep us home and try to keep us from getting over-heated. I remember taking naps on a pallet on the kitchen floor with the fan blowing on me. I also spent a lot of time playing in the bath tub.

Air Conditioning: The movie theater was the first place in our town to get AC, and Saturday and Sunday afternoon matinees became very popular in the summer time. The stores were quick to follow, but most people didn't have it in their homes for a long while.
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Old 05-07-2008, 01:06 PM   #36
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Some great points. Technology does allow us to do some things easily that used to require a lot of skill. But used properly it also allows us avenues of expression that we didn't have before.
So true.

Would I have even considered making that 'corner' in three steps if I had to angle the wood with am old block plane instead of my saw and jointer .... LOLOLOLOLOOLOL ! Not hardly! And the glue up ...

Yes, tools and technologies can be liberating BUT they can also be limiting.

Case4 in point is when design moved from the drawing board to CAD. Anyone else notice the switch to inorganic designs in the late 70's and early 80's? I firmly believe this was due to the limitations of that eras CAD. It took years to climb out of that hole. Not sure they have yet, not completely.

Also, ...

We were having problems making things fit. I asked the 'engineer' how he derived his numbers. His answer was "The machine (computer) does that". So it falls to me to give a Mechanical Engineer a math lesson so he can understand the problem? And I'm the Shop Ape?
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Old 05-07-2008, 02:28 PM   #37
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All of the features on phones.

Quite a difference since I was growing up. We never had a telephone until I was 12 years old. When we finally got one it was on a party line. For those who never heard of one, you shared the same phone line with someone else. So if they were on the phone you would have to wait until they were done talking. When you wanted to make a call you told a telephone operator what number you wanted.
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Old 05-07-2008, 03:50 PM   #38
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I would add gaming machines. I was so excited as a teenager to get a computer game that loaded from a cassette player - took ages to load and was really basic. Now my boys have DSLites with the game chips just slotting in and fantastic graphics and speed.
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Old 05-07-2008, 03:51 PM   #39
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The microchip. This thing is in EVERYTHING now and most of the time you would never even think of it.
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Old 05-07-2008, 03:59 PM   #40
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I know computers have been mentioned, but I'll be more specific and say the internet. All that information right at your fingertips! I've been able to use it to find diaper rash remedies, Celiac diagnosis for my son, info on politics and government, all the latest news, ebooks--not to mention the ability to send a message to DH whenever I want to during the day. It's great!
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