The History Channel recently aired a two-hour program about “101 Gadgets that Changed the World.” The list was compiled by the editors of Popular Mechanics, who invited a group of handpicked techie geniuses to decide which thingamajigs had most contributed to advancement of modern society. The list is altogether fascinating.
Telephones allowed folks to talk to each other. It’s easy to see the transistor radio as a stepping-stone to sending communication long distances over the airwaves – even to outer space. Television certainly changed our lives from the late 1930s, when public broadcasting began. In hindsight, it was foreseeable that these early devices would lead to personal computers, cell phones, and an enhanced lifestyle.
We collectively think the advancement of technology refers to electronics, microprocessors, space travel, and smart phones. Bigger and better evolved into smaller and more complicated. What about the gadgets we could operate without a manual? Duct tape may not strike many as a modern marvel, but where would we be without it? Duct tape actually helped save the lives of the Apollo 13 astronauts. NASA has yet to find a better quick-fixer.
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The phonograph led to better ways to hear music: audiocassette players, CD changers, and MP3 players. Digital imaging saved most casual photographers a fortune in 35mm film, while the digital technology in personal computers and cell phones now allows us to send pictures and music anywhere, instantly.
As for the generation now in their twenties, they cannot believe that anyone lived comfortably before microwave ovens, automatic transmissions, PCs, cell phones and air conditioning. Their futures will hold wonders we cannot yet imagine.