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Looking back on our technology
Judith Tabler clr

Do you ever think about the early American pioneers when you are doing some modern, techie thing? I sure do.
Driving on a busy road, waiting to peel off to the right on an exit ramp while keeping up speed and gradually moving into the right lane? Or suddenly seeing an overhead sign saying that your next highway turn is to the left in a half mile and you are in the 4th lane to the right?
What would they think? The pioneers were intelligent people and knew much more about many things than we do. But, they didn’t drive a high powered machine down a road at 70+ miles an hour, surrounded by other machines going the same speed and weaving back and forth.
I think about how our parents or grandparents would react. I reflect often on how fast technology has advanced.
Twenty years ago, I got my first cell phone. It was a flip phone, and I bought 30 minutes a month. I was in heaven. Since I was responsible for the “care” of several Senior citizens, and wanted them to be able to call me any time, I could carry that phone.
Now, I own a computer in my purse. It happens to function as a phone, but does so much more. It can google, check e mail, call up various apps, check the weather, take photos, text, call a cab, and even work as an alarm clock or timer. I can watch videos on the darn thing, and hope to heavens that no one will do that while driving their car...see paragraph 2!
Our land lines now have answering machines and caller I.D. This would have amazed Fred’s dad! We don’t talk to human beings when we make calls to various companies, (Cox for one), and business is conducted in a much different way than it was 10 years ago. That would frustrate Fred’s dad!
My first computer (1997) had 32 bytes and I eventually upgraded to 64 bytes. Isn’t that weird? You could do very little on a computer then. Now, my watch has more memory than that, and in fact, my phone has almost as many Gigabytes as my computer.
A little over 20 years ago, the internet or World Wide Web was closer to the wild, wild west. When I bought my first computer, the Internet was mostly used by scientists and scholars. Computers were becoming more common place at home, but they still used floppy disks, remember those? Computers were ugly boxes that required telephone hook-ups to dial up a connection to America On Line (AOL) or CompuServe. Sites had to instruct users to “scroll down” or “click here” because, well, no one knew what they were doing!
Up to then, people garnered their information from newspapers, magazines (all becoming passé today) and libraries. Thank goodness, libraries have stayed current and evolved with the times!
My parents would never have believed that anything...I mean anything could be researched on the WWW! Students back then would spend hours at the library researching for term papers and reports. Remember?
And my grandparents? (They are the closest to the pioneers I can relate). They owned gramophones and wound up the machine to play very fragile records. No television, no radio until later, no 24 hour news (Hooray!!). They didn’t know nor did they care when the celebrities were going to the bathroom, or the politicians were having affairs, or... These grandparents were working too hard to be involved in such nonsense!
Our parents (and sigh, we too) typed on metal machines with no electricity called “typewriters.” If you made an error, you had to either start all over again, or use a white ink to cover the errors. There was even a song called the “Typewriter” song; a catchy melody with the sound of typewriter keys clicking all the way through. Explain that to our kids!
I know that if we could resurrect these bodies at the cemetery and if they could talk to us, we would learn so much. But in the same respect, they would be amazed! Simply wide eyed, slack-jawed, amazed!
Planes with 200-300 people zooming across the sky, cars with heated seats, computer systems, air-conditioning, and so on; electronic signs running words in a line, advertising product and showing instant photos of people in the crowd, drive-in restaurants, food choices, dishwashers, vacuums that move around the floor by themselves!
Oh yes, I often think of those old-timers and then I wonder, “What’s coming?”
Judi Tabler is a guest columnist for the Great Bend Tribune and her views don’t necessarily reflect those of the paper. She can be reached at