Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hot New Technologies of Yesteryear

"100 Things Your Kids May Never Know About"
Nathan Barry, GeekDad, Wired (July 22, 2009)

"There are some things in this world that will never be forgotten, this week’s 40th anniversary of the Moon landing for one, but Moore's Law and our ever-increasing quest for simpler, smaller, faster, and better Widgets and Thingamabobs will always ensure that some of the technology we grew up with will not be passed down the line to the next generation of geeks...."

The list starts with "Inserting a VHS tape into a VCR to watch a movie or to record something" - which probably still happens, some places. My household has a VCR machine, along with some other 'legacy' hardware and software.

The last item is "When a 'Geek' and a 'Nerd' were one and the same" - If this change is happening, it's an interesting cultural shift toward an appreciation of intellectual abilities.

The second-to-the-last item, "A physical dictionary (either or spelling or definitions)", is one of a number of items on the list that I think are only partly true - or a matter of (over) simplification.

I make extensive use of online dictionaries like Princeton's WordNet. I've also got a number of paper-and-ink dictionaries, which have the sort of detailed information about the definitions, origins, alternate spellings, and pronunciation that online dictionaries tend to lack.

I suspect that, like the 'paperless office,' this prediction of the demise of print-format references is a bit optimistic.

Overall, this is an entertaining, and apparently well-researched, list of technologies that are no longer new.

Finally, a personal observation: I remember when many items on this list involved cutting-edge, revolutionary technologies. Like #24, "Terminals accessing the mainframe". I remember when computers - mainframe or otherwise - were more likely to be mentioned in science fiction stories than in business journals; and when the transistor started revolutionizing electronics.

Quite a lot has happened, since the Truman administration.

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