One of my jobs this summer is moving old VHS tapes of college convocations to DVD. It’s gotten me thinking about the rapid changes in technology in my own lifetime. I’m old enough to remember not only VHS tapes and recording things to them off the TV, but also to barely remember my parent’s record player and listening to records on it. I remember recording songs onto cassette tapes and creating my own mix to listen to. I remember how excited I was to get my first Walkman, then my first CD player. By them time I hit college, I had moved to an iPod, then an iPod Nano.
I can remember playing Wheel of Fortune on my dad’s computer where the only color the screen had was green. Later we upgraded to a new computer and I played games like Midnight Rescue, Kid Pix, and Oregon Trail. I remember when my school got the colored iMacs and how they were the coolest thing ever. It wasn’t until college that I got a computer of my own, an old iBook laptop.
I remember the advent of the internet. My parents had all sorts of rules about where we could and couldn’t go. They would check each website before we were allowed to access it and then bookmark it as more often than not in those days, you would hit porn instead of what you were looking for. The websites were primitive compared to today’s standards, but they were the coolest thing I’d ever seen. I even remember doing research for research papers before the internet or Wikipedia, and using books or encyclopedias on CD to find what I needed.
And then there were video games! I was part of the huge Pokemon craze and remember when Legend of Zelda— Ocarina of Time was so realistic and lifelike. Then they moved to the Gamecube and I remember thinking that there was no way the graphics could get anymore realistic than that. I would haul my Gameboy Color with me on trips, playing games in the car until my mom would call out that we’d played enough for today and it was time to read a book or do something else.
I remember a time when no kid had a cellphone. It was a big deal in high school if you had one, and the rules were just beginning to come out that you couldn’t have them at school. I didn’t get my first cellphone until college (there’s a bit of a trend there in when I got my technology) and didn’t get my first smart phone until just a couple of years ago. I remember the big bricks my dad used to have and how cool it was that he had a cellphone for work.
I remember film cameras. I remember how cool I thought I was as a kid when I had a disposable camera and could take pictures of whatever I wanted or when my parents would trust me with their camera. Taking a picture was an event, since film was limited and expensive. My dad won our first digital camera at a convention he attended. It didn’t zoom or anything, but you could see the picture immediately after you took it on the little screen! From then on, almost any picture my dad took, we kids would crowd around wanting to see it. I loved having a digital camera when I did a study abroad trip to London. I didn’t have to worry about how many pictures I was taking, since I had several cards and a laptop to download them to. I just had to worry about my batteries running out!
It just amazes me sometimes how fast technology has grown in my own lifetime. I’m in my mid-twenties and yet so much has changed. For less than $20, I can now buy a flash drive or memory card that’s has more space than the hard drive of my first laptop. I can surf the internet on my phone that I can also play games and watch movies on. I’m not saying I want to go back to the technology of my childhood, but it makes me wonder where we’ll be in another 20 years or so and what new and cutting-edge technology, like the CD or VHS, will be thrown aside in favor of something even better.