Follow by Email

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Changing World

Maybe it's a sign that I am growing older but lately I've been pondering the changes that have taken place just in my lifetime.

When I was growing up (oh so many years ago) we had one telephone. It was on the wall in the kitchen and with five children running through the house, there was no such thing as a private conversation. I remember years later when I was on my own, buying a cord that allowed me to walk through two rooms of my house while on the telephone. I thought that was high tech.

I wrote my first poems and short stories on my father's old Underwood typewriter, which he had used during his college years in the 1940's. The first typewriter I owned was a Smith-Corona. It was portable so I could carry it with me though I mostly left it in the living room. It was not electric and if I made a typo, I had to use White-out and blow on it until it dried.

In the 1970's while working in the Washington, DC area, I fell into the fledgling personal computer industry. My first computer was an Apple that I paid more than $12,000 for. It was green print on a black background; the resolution was low and graphics were almost non-existent. It could only load one program at a time and sharing information from one program to another was a complicated process.

By 1984, I had started the first of two computer companies in the Washington, DC area. Our first classroom instruction consisted of DOS, dBASE, LOTUS and WordPerfect. I designed the computer course curriculum for the United States Secret Service, the Marine Corps and the Department of the Navy. And I was the first contractor to teach personal computers to the Department of the Army's Training and Doctrine Command.

By the late 1980's, I was dabbling in the Internet long before it was available to households. By then, Microsoft and the Windows Operating System were taking off. And by the mid 1990's I was working with Intelligence and federal and local law enforcement in identifying cybercrime and figuring out how to protect sensitive information.

Today, every grade school has computers. All but the poorest high schools require computer literacy. Expensive, clunky pieces of hardware are no longer needed to run sophisticated programs. Smart Phones are capable of performing more intricate functions in the palm of your hand than multi-million-dollar computer systems were just a few decades ago.

I can drive across country with a telephone in my pocket and when I want to make or receive a call, I can talk to my car the way I speak to a passenger- and the car will make the call for me. With the same phone, I can take video, take pictures, check email, ask for the best Gas prices, find out about movies old and new, and do more things than this column has room for.

If so much has changed in the past 20 years, what will the next 20 be like?