Old devices die with new tech

When I read that 87 percent of all the scientists who ever lived are alive at this moment, I was surprised.

But, when I thought about it, I shouldn?t have been, because with technology multiplying exponentially, it?s only a natural phenomena.

A friend of mine told me something I never forgot regarding change: with every ?yes? there is a corresponding ?no.? Applying that to technology, I think about the devices we have lost in just the past 50 years.

One of the ingenious machines used in my trade was the telex machine. As an assistant in a public information office, I used it to keep up with news around the world.

In the early 1970s, when I was using this machine, I was amazed that I could get UPI and Associated Press releases.

The only downside to the machine was its use of paper. I dreaded going into the office every morning to see long sheets of paper all over the floor.

Not only did I need to organize all the sheets, but reading news specific to our area was sometimes challenging. If the news was particularly bad, a bell would alert me to jump up and read the information immediately.

How could technology get any more advanced? But it did.

During that same period, reel-to-reel tape recorders became hot items for song writers and professional sound designers. As they became more affordable, I even became a proud owner of a Teak machine.

Once again, though, someone came up with a newer, more streamlined idea. But in those days it took years for that to happen. Today, changes happen within months.

As a young person, I loved the transistor radio, but I didn?t know that little radio would be the thing to launch us into the portable electronic age.

Of course, then came boom boxes, Walkmans, watchmans, cassette players, CD players and so much more.

When I had my first job, I bought a 1970 Mach I from my older brother, complete with an eight-track player. In those days there was nothing better than driving down the road with my songs blaring out of the eight-track.

Unfortunately, the player was short-lived, and cassette players took over.

When the Betamax video system emerged in the mid-1970s, its longevity was disputed almost immediately. In those days, video stores were popping up everywhere and many Betamax movies were rented. Those of us who couldn?t afford to buy the machine rented it.

VHS was already on the horizon and so many of my friends told me to wait and buy a VHS player instead of a Betamax. Good thing I listened. Betamax slowly left the video shelves to be replaced by VHS.

It seemed like VHS was around a long time before DVDs entered the scene. Now we have Netflix, Hulu and so many other sources for our entertainment.

We still have a DVD player collecting dust on a shelf above our television, and lots of DVD movies in a hall closet, but I can?t remember the last time I watched one.

Still, there are places where I can rent DVDs and see some of the movies that Netflix isn?t showing yet.

Even though people still have dial-up modems, my family preferred going with the more advanced technology. I can still hear the sound those dial-ups would make and I don?t miss it.

People don?t need to call doctors anymore to diagnose illnesses?they can just go to WebMd and look it up.

Just about every topic is searchable on Google. In fact, did you know Google?s birthday is Sept. 4, 1998?

In the early 1990s, a colleague started purchasing airline tickets and other things sight unseen. That was a bit too adventurous for me. I was so uninformed about the information highway that I went to a class to learn more about how to use the Internet.

No joke.

Today, search engines are the white and yellow pages combined. We can even use Google or another search engine to find how to contact someone. Which raises another obsolete must-have of the past: the phonebook.

Personally, I miss some things from my past, but I also enjoy our changing technology. I would be lost without my cell phone, my computer and other devices that make life easier.

One thing I am thrilled about is not having to type this column on an old manual typewriter using copy paper.

Thank you, technology, for that small favor!