By Karl Terry: CNJ columnist
A comment by a coworker last week about how much technology has changed just in our middle-aged lives spawned a long list of new things we never would have dreamed.
At the top of that list is cell phones. All involved in the discussion remembered through first-hand experience party-line phone service and rotary dial phones.
Back then if you had told us that some day we would carry a phone in our pocket with no wires that would remember and dial every phone number we knew we would have laughed out loud at the silliness of it.
If you had tried to explain that phone would be able to tell us who was calling before we answered it we would have been flabbergasted.
Of course back then no one would have ever thought about actually not answering the phone when it rang anyway.
Personal computers and the Internet are also something none of us saw coming. I remember thinking how high tech everything was during the Apollo moon missions and being amazed at the computers in use that made it all possible. These days it’s likely your average automobile has more computing power than the Apollo craft had. A college student’s laptop computer today likely has more power than all of Mission Control in 1969.
Social networking was once accomplished at the church ice cream gathering or the country store. These days it’s accomplished without ever leaving the house on Facebook or Twitter. Talk about taking pen pals to the next level. Who would have thought?
Music once meant playing a record or tuning into a radio station and hoping to hear something you liked. Now I can carry my entire collection of music on an iPod in the same pocket as my cell phone.
Actually now I can get a cell phone that carries my music library.
Satellites have totally changed things too. No more stopping at the gas station for directions. Just punch up driving directions on your GPS. Good thing because the gas station attendant who knew where you were and how to get where you were going has been replaced by an automated self-service pump that won’t work unless you have a plastic card to swipe.
Those same satellites have also changed the way we get news and entertainment. Tune in your favorite station in Grady, N.M., and never change it on your drive to Grady, Ark. with satellite radio. Order the latest movie using your satellite television system or find out instantly whenever news breaks anywhere around the globe.
But without a doubt one of the greatest inventions of my lifetime has been the microwave oven. I use it several times every day. I can make everything from eggs and bacon to macaroni and cheese in my microwave. No muss, no fuss and I’m about to decide those nasty little microwaves really aren’t going to get loose and bounce around my kitchen.
As for my wife, she loves the microwave too, she’s just glad it took as long as it did for the technology to be perfected. I’ve told her most of our married life if I had owned a microwave as a bachelor I might never have gotten married.
I can’t imagine what’s coming down the pike in the future. I’m sure I’ll continue to be amazed. The one thing I know is technology is popping up faster and faster and my brain is working slower and slower.