We recently ordered a tablet for our 8-year-old grandson. We ensured that it would support a decent-sized SSD card, 128 GB, for storing all the photos and videos he will likely take. He’ll mostly play games or watch videos on the tablet, and his favorite video is Dragon’s Doom.
Purchasing this gift made me think about how much has changed over the past 40 years or so. I remember the excitement of buying a 5.25-inch floppy drive and modem for our TI-99/4A back in the early 80s. I caught my first look at BASIC in 1980 on a TRS-80 but figured out how to write a few simple programs on the TI. We
wasted spent a lot of time on BBS (The Bulletin Board System) and CompuServe before dial-up internet was available in the 90s. I can still hear that modem connecting!
Our first desktop PC was slow, probably even for that time, as we bought a clearance model. We upgraded it many times during its life and had to use a compression utility to get more drive space. I don’t recall the specs, but the hard drive was probably just a couple of hundred megabytes. These were the 16-bit days, and software arrived with printed books and lots of installation floppies. Around 1995, I purchased a laptop. This was the beginning of always having multiple working computers in the house.
Photography is another example. Taking home photos was once cumbersome and expensive. I had a 126 Kodak Instamatic, and I needed the film cartridge and a sometimes a flashcube to take a photo. Then, once the film was used up, possibly over several months, it had to be taken in to be developed. Today, most phones are equipped to take digital photos and videos – no film needed.
Speaking of phones, how did we manage to keep track of each other before mobile phones? The chances of catching someone at home at the right time to answer a phone call on a landline seems astronomical, but we did it. A recent science fiction series, Upload, shows the characters using a handphone. There’s no need to carry a phone around as it’s embedded in one’s hand. They also have a 3D instant food printer that prints real meals. I’m not sure which one of these will be available in real life first, but I need that food printer now!
That tiny SSD card that will store my grandson’s photos was unimaginable just a few decades ago. Maybe in 20 years, we will look back at today’s world and wonder how we managed with such primitive technology.