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Old 13th September 2011, 11:11 AM   #1
thaumaturge is offline thaumaturge  United States
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Default The Future is Now!

This ought to stir things up a bit. The subject is how technology has actually changed over the course of your lifetime. I'll start it off with a few things and let others here run with it.

Portable telephones.
Then: In 1970 my father had a mobile telephone installed in his car for work. It had a regular rotary phone dial and a monster 35 Watt or so transceiver that took up a chunk in the rear of his station wagon. Full sized phone booths existed in any convenient spot.
Now: Virtually every working adult in the western world has a cellphone in his pocket. Phonebooths have vanished. Payphones only exist mounted on the front of convienience stores.

Then: When I was a sophmore in high school in 1967, a black and white Ampex reel to reel video recorder was 2 foot by 2 1/2 foot by 18 inches and weighed probably 50 lbs or so. It recorded fair quality black and white video on 1" tape. Most all television stations were broadcasting in color by then and used machines that ran 2" tape although some 4" tape machines still existed at that time. Sometime btween then and now Sony revolutionized the broadcast industry with their 1" reel to real broadcast video recorder, then the commercial sized Beta cart tape using 3/4" tape.
Now: I possess a automotive key fob spy camera I can hold unoticed in my hand that shoots up to two hours of full color 720p HQ video onto a micro SD card that I can plug into the USB port of most any computer and burn the video over onto a $0.20 DVD which my printer will most impressively label for me.

Data Storage
Then: I have a sixties photo of a large forklift loading a miraculous huge IBM 5 MB storage unit onto a cargo airplane for shipment to some big buck industrial customer. Unit was about 7 foot wide by 3 foot deep by 6 to 7 feet tall and weighed probably a ton and a half.
Now: You probably coodn't tell if the guy next to you in line at McDonalds had a Terabyte shirt pocket drive in his pocket containing over 200 full DVD quality movies on it. I might typically have 4 or 5 movies on a tiny 16GB flash stick in my pants pocket. My portable MP3 player is woefully out of date and only holds about 15 albums worth of music to choose from on 1GB full sized SD chips.

Energy storage
Then: A typical Fat AA Nicad battery had a storage capacity of a whopping 400 mAh.
Now: A typical normal AA Nickle metal hydride rechargable battery has a storage capacity of 2500 mAh. 1000 mAh AAA cells are not uncommon.

Then: When I was again a sophomore in high school in 1967 the school district moving squad rolled in the latest greatest small IBM console computer to total up the grades for the year and I got to look over the shoulders of some of the Ham Radio club / electronics shop elite while they fed brain jarring math problems into this beast that was six feet long and two and a half feet deep and nearly three feet high and had its own IBM selectric style typwriter keyboard and printer unit. Wow! In abot 1975 or so I signed up for ten hours a month worth of computer time on a local university's Univac 1108 computer. Entering and running BASIC programs through old modified teletype units that whent "shook" on every keystroke. There were a whopping 10 terminals in a narrow strip room adjacent to a glass wall facing the beast. I recall there were at least five dial up lines available on campus at that time.
Now: The CPU in your smart phone is faster than the original Cray 1 supercomputer. Wouldn't match it for data width or I/O throughput but on math functions it would clean its clock!

I'll let others carry on from here.
Noli timere problematum affigit
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Old 13th September 2011, 11:35 AM   #2
DF96 is offline DF96  England
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Then: for most of my childhood (in the 1960's) we did not have a house phone. We had to walk down the road to the bus station to use a phone booth for outgoing calls. No incoming calls!
Now: I have a mobile but I don't always bother to carry it around with me.

Then: In the late 1970's we could run an entire power station using just one PDP-11 16-bit minicomputer. It had 64k core memory, and 5Mb of disc storage (14 inch platters?). Clock speed was probably a few MHz, using TTL logic on huge PCBs.
Later: Floppy discs, Winchester discs (what everyone now calls hard discs), MOS memory, CMOS logic. We needed a network of 10-20 computers, each with 4MB memory, to run a power station. Then along came the IBM PC with DOS - about the worst computer design I have ever seen! I was horrified at the thought of letting non-IT people use such an unfriendly system.

Energy storage
Then: No NiCads or alkaline cells. Just zinc-carbon, and lead-acid.

Then: two VHF channels, 405-lines, black and white, all valves. 625-lines on UHF and PAL colour appeared when I was still in school.
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Old 13th September 2011, 02:10 PM   #3
mickeymoose is offline mickeymoose  Canada
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Post WWII Germany I recall telephones with hand-cranks and manually operated switchboards.
Once or twice a year Philips would set-up a big screen in the town sqaure and project movies and news. Oh, how I remember the Philips Logo stickman. 100s of People would stand and watch for hours
The first actual TV I saw was early 50s when Germany won the socker match against Hungary(?)
Bycicles had carbite powerd headlamps and the conversion of the 150VDC mains to 220VAC had begun.
Oh yeah, the good old days! Don't miss them a bit! E
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Old 13th September 2011, 02:40 PM   #4
Risk is offline Risk  Finland
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This reminds me of Monty Python's four Yorkshiremen:

Four Yorkshiremen - YouTube
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Old 13th September 2011, 03:10 PM   #5
c2cthomas is offline c2cthomas  United States
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We had 8 watt per channel tube amps and played music on turntables. Oh wait - that was the audio show last week.
DIY audio can be expensive but getting to see things go up in smoke - that's priceless!!!! ..... "whatever - call it brainfart of Mighty ZM"
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Old 13th September 2011, 08:58 PM   #6
chris661 is offline chris661  United Kingdom
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I was young when we had dial up internet. And Windows 98. It would take several hours to download a seriously compressed piece of music. And the connecting noises! Oh, I miss those. I might actually record those, just for nostalgia.

Now I play the latest games on a budget laptop, over wireless internet. I can stream music (and video) faster than I can watch it.
I have a small handheld device that has 32Gb of storage for my music, that can host a face-to-face video call with sound. The battery will last for a week. It has wireless internet access that enables me to share photos and videos with friends that can view them at their own leisure, from anywhere in the world.

The future will be an interesting place.

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Old 13th September 2011, 09:21 PM   #7
revboden is offline revboden  United States
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The research I did for my Ph.D., earned in 1988, flying to all over the world to go to libraries, reading hundreds of thousands of pages to find little nuggets of information took 3 years.

today with search engines, I've estimated it would take five weeks to gather the same volume of information...
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Old 14th September 2011, 11:33 PM   #8
CopperTop is offline CopperTop  United Kingdom
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It occurs to me, though, that in many ways we have reached the logical conclusion of a lot of this stuff. When a thumbnail-sized full HD camcorder costs $10, the limiting factor is no longer the price or size, but the fact that you only need one (if at all), and don't even have the time to use it, anyway. The same for being able to carry 10000 hours of video around in a sugar cube-sized player with microscopic 1080p LCD that runs for a year between recharges: it would hardly change my life at all. Once we got to CD & DVD, colour TV, digital camera, Pentium PC all available for a couple of hundred GBP or USD, the limiting factor became the time we had available to use them. The biggest technological change in my life compared to 20, 30, 40 years ago is the internet (and I could use a very modest early 90s PC quite easily for that). I'm not holding my breath for anything else really revolutionary to come along before civilisation finally destroys itself!
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Old 14th September 2011, 11:46 PM   #9
sofaspud is offline sofaspud  United States
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One word... nanotechnology.
It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from enquiry. - Thomas Paine
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Old 15th September 2011, 12:00 AM   #10
CopperTop is offline CopperTop  United Kingdom
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Originally Posted by sofaspud View Post
One word... nanotechnology.
Well they do say that combined shampoo and conditioner is nanotechnology. It's a start, I suppose.
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