Friday, January 8, 2010

Dude, Where's My Jet Pack?

Hi, I'm Sue. Everyone knows that hoverboards don't work on water, and I am an Anomaly.

Wow, it's 2010. Whether you think "two thousand ten" or "twenty ten" sounds more science-fictiony, there were a time when all of us thought of 2010 as "the distant future." And for the past few weeks, everywhere I go, I keep reading and hearing complaints about all the stuff that we're "supposed" to have in 2010. Flying cars, jet packs, communicators, hyposprays, etc. Yes, those things would be cool, but let's take a step back. We live during an time of amazing technological advancement. I know that sounds ridiculous, but seriously, we do! Check it out - here are just a few brief examples how technology has changed over the past 30(ish) years, leading to things we take for granted every day (or, at least, I know I do).

Portable Music: The Sony Walkman TPS-L2 first went on sale to the public in Japan on July 1, 1979. The Discman D-50 came along 5 years later in 1984 (CD players in general were released to the public two years prior), but ESP - electronic skip protection - wasn't introduced until 1993, nine years later! The minidisc hit the market in 1992. I have a few friends that used them, and still do, for intricate audio mixing, but they didn't seem to really catch on in terms of general use, at least in my experience. And then, in 2001, the 5G iPod was unveiled. Today, iPods come with up to 160G of storage space, touch screens, the ability to run applications and play video, take photos... the newest Nano even shoots video. And if you have an iPhone, well....

Cell Phones: Zack Morris is the first personality I can remember that wouldn't be caught dead without his cell phone. The "Zack Morris Phone", or Motorola DynaTAC 8000X - that enormous, grey, brick-sized phone - was the first cellular phone to gain FCC acceptance. When? 1983. Twenty-seven years and four generations of networks later, and we have iPhones (see above), Blackberrys, Droids, and so on. You can text your BFF, update your Facebook and Twitter status with anachronistic slang, listen to your mp3s of Zack Attack, surf the web for an episode guide, get turn-by-turn GPS directions to The Max, and even watch Saved By The Bell on your phone - probably all at the same time. Oh, you can make phone calls, too.

Television: In 1980, 16 million US households were cable subscribers, and there were 28 networks. In 1984, the cable TV industry was deregulated and over $15 billion was spent on expanding cable wiring over the next 8 years. By 1989, there were 79 national networks, 139 in 1995, and 171 in 1998. We were launched into the digital age around 2003, and suddenly there were huge leaps forward high-definition programming, video-on-demand, digital video records... By the end of 2005, it was reported that 27.6 million households were digital cable subscribers, and I'm not sure we can get a solid count on the number of networks - there seem to be more every day. But I do know that I have 5 different ESPNs, and that's awesome! So, that's television the medium, what about television sets? Not too much mystery there - big old tubes, to flat screens, to flat panel HDTVs... and now LG has introduced a 47 inch display that's only 5.9mm thick and weights 16.1 pounds (that's less than my cat).

And, finally, computers & the internet: The Commodore
64 was introduced in January 1982, with a 16-color display and 64kB of RAM (What kind of chip you got in there - a Dorito?). That doesn't even compare to the first iPod. Data storage has gone from 8-inch floppy disks to 5-1/4 and 3-1/2 inch floppies, to zip drives, to CD-ROM, to flash drives. Something the size of your thumbnail can hold more data than that we ever thought we'd need back in the '80s. And then there's teh interwebs. Sure, the internet is generally accepted to have begun in 1969, but didn't gain a public face until the early '90s, and the big usage boom came in the mid-'90s (AOL 3.0 was released in June 1996). Now, it's estimated that the "population of internet users" is over 1.67 billion. Just think about that for a minute. 1.67 billion.

But the really wonderful thing about the internet is amazing power it's brought to the common person! We can check prices from stores around the world, making sure we get the best buy. We can read newspapers and watch television programs. But, in my opinion, the best thing the internet has given us is right here. The ability to create communities, make friends all over the world, express ourselves, and share our creativity. Anyone can make a podcast. Anyone can write a blog. Anyone can get creative and share something they've made. You can design a logo, upload it to, and have a shirt (or tons of other stuff) in a week or so. You can write a book and not worry about finding a publisher, try - they print on demand! You can create music and get it on iTunes. We can do so much online that wasn't even possible 5 years ago, let alone 30 years ago.

So, you know what? Go ahead and complain about your lack of a jet pack. Get out your phone, put on some tunes, log onto the internet, and blog and tweet about how disappointed you are with the state of technology in 2010. Or take a step back and look at how far we've come. Sure, the things I've mentioned are pretty small potatoes in the grand scheme of things, but there's so much more - I mean, researchers are testing an AIDS vaccine! So, yeah, I'm pretty happy with where we stand. In fact, I love living in the future. But I won't dismiss Hollywood's predictions entirely - in 2015, I'm putting money on the Cubbies to win the World Series (Thank you, Marty McFly).

Anomaly Staff Writer
Subscribe to Anomaly via iTunes

1 comment:

twinb76 said...

didn't you watch NCIS this week? ;D jet packs are close! lol!!