Pondering Technology

Around 1985, technology really took off.  If you took a walk around any college campus, you’d have seen practically everyone with a Walkman and over the ear headphones.  Instead of enjoying music together, people were turning inward and grooving by themselves.  The days of the communal jambox and record parties are over.  Though turntables are making a comeback, portable technology has reigned supreme since the mid 80’s. Today, I own a SanDisk mp3 player with 512MB of storage, enough for maybe 100 songs.   My cell phone stores more with its 2GB SD card.  The new iPod classic at 160GB has more storage space than my desktop PC and can  hold somewhere in the neighborhood of 4,000 songs.

In the 80’s, Polaroid and Kodak cameras were popular point and shoot options.  In 1984, I bought a Kodak disc camera.  Remember those?  I think I bought it in Germany and took a couple of “rolls” of film while on vacation in Europe.  It took pretty good photos.   I bought a Fuji FinePix digital camera in 2002 and it was a top of the line 2 megapixel camera and all the camera I could afford.  It came with a 16MB XD picture card as I recall, enough for about 50 photos or so.   I still have it and have resisted the urge to upgrade.  By the way, my 2 mp cellphone camera takes photos of comparable quality and considerably better quality video.  Most digital cameras on the market today are 10 mp or better.  The 12. 2 mp Fuji FinePix A220 sells for half what I paid for the 1st generation 2 mp version of the popular Fuji model.

Around 1983, personal computers hit the market.  By 1986, PCs began to replace the typewriter.  When I was a graduate student in 1986, I bought my first computer, a Leading Edge with a monochrome monitor and no internal hard drive.  The thing had two floppy disk drives.   I bought a dot matrix printer to go along with it.   In 1999, I bought a little Diamond Mako hand-held computer – smaller than a laptop, and a little bigger than a smart phone.    The keyboard was nice.  It had an agenda, a to do list, e-mail and internet capability, a word processor and spreadsheet, calculator and address book with 16MB of storage space.  The problem with it was that it could not keep a charge and each time my battery drained, my data drained with it.

I love new technology, but feel the need to resist the frequent upgrade temptations.  The thing is, I know most electronic products are planned with obsolescence in mind.  The only way I can fight back is to hold on to what I buy until it stops working or until it becomes so dated that it is no longer practical to own.  Except for our stereo and TVs (we still have a mono 19″ color Panasonic) we upgrade our stuff every 6 years or so.  We must have been the last family to buy a CD player and maybe the second to last to buy a DVD player.  And after our central idiot box caught fire, we bought a flat screen HD TV replacement and joined the new millennium.

One day, a Blue-Ray.

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