Electronic Evolution

I was born three years after the first atomic bomb was detonated in Japan.

We had no TV, no on demand anything. The electronic evolution had yet to begin. To see a movie, you had to drive to a theater, roll down all your windows, put a speaker in your car, or park and go inside and take a seat. There were no cell phones. Not everybody had phones in their homes. There was only one in our home. Phones came in any color you wanted as long as they were black. There were two wires on it, one from the wall to the phone and another from the phone to the handset. The one to the wall was not portable, that was it.

By the time I got to high school, not much had changed. TV was available in color. Prior to that, it was black and white and a few shades of grey. We still did not have a way to record, or watch shows on demand. There were no video games yet. Most of our current events info still came from radio and newspapers. TV news was on an hour in the evenings. Half that time was local news weather and sports. The other half was dedicated to national and international news.

When I got married, we still didn’t have cell phones or the internet.

Cell phones didn’t exist when I married. Neither did DVD players. Nor the internet. Most of my news input was gleaned from the newspaper. In childhood, I learned to read by looking at the newspapers. Every day I would read the paper from cover to cover. In Tampa, we had two papers a day. There was the Morning Tribune, and, in the evenings, we had the Times. That was the principal way sports news was followed. When you were away from home and needed to make a phone call, every other street corner had pay telephones in little booths. That was how you called home There were long lines of pay phones in separate tiny cubicles in airports, bus stations, and hotels. They were almost everywhere.

It wasn’t until the mid-1980s that things started to accelerate.

Along came the first electronic games. You found them in bars at first. Space Invaders and Pac Man. The first home based gear arrived. Atari and games like Pong entertained us on our home TVs. We still didn’t have cell phones or internet, but things were starting to accelerate.

Finally, the internet showed up, but was so specialized, only geeks could use it. There were no pictures, no animation, and no videos. Interaction was limited to bulletin boards known as BBS and a couple of apps that made them work, like Maveric. They were asymmetrical, you didn’t ‘chat’ real time with others. The operating system was DOS 3.1. If you didn’t know what that meant, you were normal. There was no Windows and few could afford or, even knew what to do with an Apple computer.

Cell phones showed up too.

About time. The early cell phones were wired into your car and were called bricks. Guess why? They weighed about two pounds and looked like a . . . Well, a brick. As the phones became more widespread, they got smaller. The first one I had billed me by the minute to use it. We paid out the you know what for any long distance calls too. In my case, long distance could be as short as ten miles away. When making or receiving calls, the first minute was generously, ‘on the house’. There would be a beep at 50 seconds to alert you that your minute was about up. My wife and I spoke in 55 second bursts.

By now we’re talking about the mid-1990s. The internet was becoming. That’s it, becoming. There was yet to be any video, social media, or Google. Half the population had no idea what you were talking about if you said ‘dot com.’ Now we’re up to the turn of the millennium. That brought a host of interesting new things. The doom and gloom media elite were hysterical that the Y2K bug would blow up all the progress we had made since the beginning of the industrial revolution. They were wringing their collective hands telling us we’re all gonna die. It was the climate change mantra of the time. I turned 52 at the initiation of Y2K. I can’t wait to see what happens over the next 52 years. So far so good.