Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Where is my flying car?

In 9th grade, my Electronics teacher asked us a question. Actually, it was two questions. The first one was: "How different would your life be today if we didn't use electricity?" Now keep in mind this was the early 80's (there I go, dating myself again).
The obvious answer from the students was "No TV!" It took us a little longer to realize we wouldn't have light bulbs. And what about digital watches? Heck, some of the guys in class even had digital watches with calculators on them. Don't believe me? Here is a picture of one:

Never mind that we needed electricity to power the fans that blew warm air through the heating system--or to run all the different devices in our cars. Telephones? Nah, we wouldn't have those either.
The more we discussed, the more we realized how very different our lives would be. My teacher went as far as to ask, "How in the world could we live without electricity?"
I'll admit, it was hard for me to imagine.

And then he asked the question that really blew our minds. It was, "What hasn't been invented yet, or isn't commonly used, that 25 years from now, we are going to say, 'How did we live without (whatever)?'"

Well, 25 years (or so) have come and gone. Sadly, the flying car and transporter technology have yet to see the light of day. However, that doesn't mean that there hasn't been some big changes. Now, I'm sure there are some really scientific people out there that could write pages and pages about all that has changed. I'm going to focus on three primary things that are now common place that we didn't use 25 years ago.

#1 Personal computers. When my wife and I bought our first computer, it had an incredible 100 megabytes of hard drive space. The computer I'm using now as I type this? It has like 600 gigabytes. (If you aren't sure what that means, 1,000 megabytes = 1 gigabyte. So 600 gigabytes = well, you get the idea.) What's even more amazing to me is that we don't just have one computer. We have four. Granted, they aren't all brand new, but with our kids getting older and needing to do more and more homework on the computer, it was getting to be an issue.

#2 The internet. This may seem like the same thing as #1, but it isn't. Yes, computers use the internet, but they are two different things. Again, going back to our first computer, we had something called AOL. We had to dial into a local number, and then we let the fun begin--well, kinda. If we wanted to download any sort of item from the internet, we would click on what we wanted, go make a sandwich, walk the dog, take a shower, followed by a little nap, and then, just maybe, the item would have finished. And now? The web pages almost load before you get done typing in what you are looking for.

#3 Cell phones. It was a sign of prestige and wealth to have a phone in your car--or maybe something from a 007 movie. Then you could get a portable one--if you didn't mind carrying around a purse like bag that housed the phone.

The idea that just about everyone over the age of 15 has a cell phone is something I couldn't conceive 25 years ago. But more than them being used to make calls, the new "smart" phones can do more things than my first personal computer could do--by a large margin.

So, where does that leave us now? Well, I'll pose the same question to you: What hasn't been invented yet, or isn't commonly used, that 25 years from now, we are going to say, 'How did we live without (whatever)?'

1 comment:

  1. In 25 years, we'll say "How did we live without the man cave?" ha ha!

    Actually I just saw an old movie with John Candy where they had cell phones, and they were HUGE, just like the one you pictured here.

    I hate cell phones myself. I don't want people call me at all hours anywhere I am.