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Thursday, 7 June 2012

One of the greatest inventions since the printing press has to be the portable audio player.  For years, the only way to listen to recorded music was either your home record player or the infamous ghetto blaster. Now you can shut out the world and retreat to your little capsule of sound. Sweet, sweet escape.

Remember having to change the channel by hand? Those UHF channels were a bitch, and then you had fine tune it every time.  Ugh.

Our first remote was attached to the VCR by a long wire, and we thought we'd entered the space age.  I don't recall when I got my first cordless remote; probably the mid eighties.  Back then, you only had a handful of channels, so not having a remote wasn't as miserable as you'd think.  Today, with hundreds of channels (all crap), a remote is a requirement.

One of the most taken-for-granted electronic device has to be the calculator.  You may have forgotten that for the longest time calculators were not affordable for your average family.  Engineering majors would have lay down a hefty loan to get a calculator for college - they were big, bulky and ridiculously expensive.

Can you imagine not having one today? Granted, most of your personal finances are done automatically via your bank; however, I still can't imagine having to whip out a pencil and paper every time I needed to calculate something.

As much as I love video games, there's that old geezer in me that pines for a day when we didn't have them.   Perhaps it's just sentimental nonsense, but I feel like something was lost when video games entered our homes.  It was one more step away from "real life" interactions, and one step forward towards this "bubble" we are all creating for ourselves.  At least at the arcade you were communing with real human beings.

The cell phone is both a blessing and a bane of my existence. On the downside, it has become tethered to every human being like some bionic parasite.  Instead of just being a handy device, it is often a person's noose, yoke, life support, and addiction all in one. For some people, taking away their iPhone is tantamount to stealing their soul.  I, myself, have to have it for work - I don't like it, but without it I'm f****d.

On the other hand, many of you will remember this scenario...

Not having to wait in line and pay for a phone call is very liberating.  I always felt rushed on the pay phone and would inevitably get disconnected mid-sentence.  You can't deny the convenience of the smartphone - as much as I hate to admit it, I think this is an invention I'd have a hard time living without.

I'm still on the fence about the digital clock.  I can tell the time every bit as fast using your standard analog clock; and do we really need to know the time to the nanosecond?  Notice that this 1976 advertisement wants to charge you a hundred dollars for this simple digital timepiece..... that's nearly $400 in today's dollars!

And, finally, here's a great invention that I'm surprised never took off.  Go figure.


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