The decision was recently made to remove the wall-mounted telephone that has hung in our kitchen for probably almost three decades.
It is an essential part of the house, but with the advancement of technology, it has not been usable for several years, as communication systems rely more on digital technology and fiber.
I’ve often thought about advances in technology in my lifetime, or, for that matter, just in the last 25 years. It’s hard to imagine that there are people, including some of my peers, who have never known a world without the Internet. They don’t know the difficulty of having to plan your Internet usage (assuming you’re lucky enough to have a computer at home) because not only did you have multiple people who needed to use the service, but because once you were connected, you might miss an important phone call. The sound of that dial-up connection lingers in my memories. Sometimes it took several attempts to connect. Even then, loading a single web page can take several minutes.
Now you don’t have to worry about being taken offline when someone calls your house. Pages appear in seconds. A whole family can sit in the same room with multiple devices connected. Let’s face it, today you can do all of this from your phone.
My family’s first personal computer was a Commodore 64. All programs were stored on individual floppy disks, and you had to type in a basic code to use them. It wasn’t as simple as clicking an icon on a screen. My first video game was Pong. Eventually I played Pac-Man through family trips to Pizza Hut, then a family member got an Atari system. We thought we made real progress with the original Nintendo Entertainment System in the mid-1980s. Kids today would laugh at what we thought was amazing.
There was no satellite radio in your car. If you were going on a long trip, your options were either to periodically scan the radio frequencies and hope there was a station within range playing music you liked, or to carry a briefcase full of cassette tapes (later some CDS). Some generations before mine didn’t even have this option. There were no radios in their cars.
There was a time when your school might have had a few televisions for all classes to share. They sat on large carts that could be wheeled around the building, with a VCR attached. When I was about 13, our school had wall-mounted televisions placed in every room. Today, there are programs to provide every student with a digital tablet so they can watch videos or get help with schoolwork.
Space exploration is done more by computers these days than by people, although the itch for manned missions to the Moon or Mars continues to exist.
We can connect with people across the country or around the world in minutes with email, social media, and video chats. Back then, you wrote a letter and waited for them to respond.
Today, we probably don’t think much about these advancements, but many of them would have been considered science fiction not too long ago. Imagine what might be available when today’s children are in our shoes.
(Howell, a Colliers resident, is editor of the Weirton Daily Times, and can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)