Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Few Little Changes in Technology !

We all realise that technology changes our life style but I wonder how often we stop to think how much has changed in a very short time. When we think the first computer happened in 1975 when Ed Roberts coined the term personal computer and introduced the Altair 8800. It was 1976/1978 that the first real consumer computers were introduced. It then took another 10 years for them to become more readily used. The Internet hit in the nineties as well as mobile phones.  In the twenty years from 1990 to 2010, worldwide mobile phone subscriptions grew from 12.4 million to over 4.6 billion, penetrating the developing economies and reaching the bottom of the economic pyramid. The iPhone came into being in 2007 and the iPad in April 2010. Wow. - how quick things have changed in a very, very short time.
Now let's put this into perspective for the over 40's/50's.  Black and white TV was started roughly in 1956. It really took another 10 years before it became common for most  ( I remember watching TV with my older brothers in the window of the local hardware store). Coloured TV was introduced in 1967 and again wasn't overly common for many until another 10 yrs. I think it was about  1982 before I got my first coloured set ( one of those small portable sets). VHS verse Beta, the cassette tape then  Cd,s introduced in 1981, Walkmans with cassette and then cd,s to be replaced with mp3 players in 1997 ( God forbid that was only 14 years ago !  Where did I put my vinyl record collection ?) 
Mobile phones - another very recent addition. Remember the first ones - looked like bricks and you just about had to yell into them because the reception was so poor! Probably up until 2001 my idea of a mobile phone was the TARDIS  (Dr Who)!  Why on earth would you want to be contacted away from home or work. Enjoy the quiet . 
Then the world changed. Very quickly and irreversibly. And we all got caught up in it - regardless of age. We bought CD's because we couldn't get anything else. We bought computers for our kids to do their homework on. We bought mobile phones so our teenagers could contact us in emergencies. The kids (and not so little kids) wanted digital cameras (“If you want quality kids - stick to film”). Suddenly  - these items became ours and we couldn't do with out them.
Phones got smaller, computers got faster, media entertainment became thinner, more high res with surround sound. In education we got interactive whiteboards and computer banks.  Things went along for a few years with really only minor change. 
Then the iphone hit ! It really did change a whole way of thinking. Call it clever marketing or what you like but it did cause a major mind shift. Phones weren’t being used for just phone conversations. You could interact with it. Receive emails, play games, listen to music, take photos, watch videos (suddenly because of screen size and quality - this became realistic ) and the introduction of “apps”. This was a personal device and mainly taken up by the younger, hipper members of society. Business wasn’t far behind. Linking calendars , emails, phone, notes, video chat had the business community flocking to it in droves. Suddenly - every business man had an iphone. The change of attitude had happened again - and without anyone really noticing. This was a major shift in communication. Phones, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, mulberries could do all this stuff before - but no one really bothered before the iphone. My old 5 yr old nokia has calendars, games, email etc but I have never used it. It just didn’t seem practical. Because of the screen and size the iphone was able to make these things practical and desirable. 

The arrival of the ipad !
Another major shift in thinking. Not a computer or iphone replacement but something in between that will appeal for many reasons. I managed to borrow an ipad 1 for about 4 months to see what uses they could be for education. I stayed with the brief of “education” apps and could see how beneficial they could be for children (although many of my colleagues were going off on tangents of how they would use them for administration or personal use). My conclusion at the end of 2010 was - yes - great for education but I personally wouldn’t own one. Then the ipad2 was released. My school purchased a number to trial. We looked at the educational use, tried them with special needs kids in our classrooms and did our administration on them. I must admit - I became hooked. I can’t really explain why. Maybe it was the smaller, lighter size. Maybe the screen was nicer. I don’t really know. I bought one for my wife. She loves reading, photography, games and using the web. She also became hooked (all for personal, non work related reasons - although she is now looking to how she can utilize it for work related tasks - for use with ESL children). The range of activities one can do on it. Read a book, watch TV, send an email, look up on the net, play a game, make a video call, listen to music, check your calendar - and that’s just scratching the surface. 
Apple seem to have that knack of, not necessarily creating something new, but of being able to put together a number of newer technologies in a format that people will use. Therefore , effectively changing the way people  engage with it.  My - how the world has changed (and me with it).
Ah well- time to reach over and turn the off button on my Black & White telle, duck down to the phone booth on the corner and make a call on my way down to the local library.

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