It is amazing to think about the wonderful technological advances we have made in our lifetimes, especially in the last 50 years. Some have been a true miracle of science, certainly improving the lives we live today. Many of these advances are in our kitchens, such as the non-stick surfaces for pots and pans, and the microwave ovens that make leftovers come alive for a second time on our dining room tables.
For some of us men, our focus is not in the kitchen, but instead, we cast our attention to the living room and fall to our knees and praise Zenith for the development of the “lazybones” tuning device which allows us to change channels on our TV’s from the comfort of the couch.
If you’re ever in downtown Boston, there is a wonderful museum that will provide you with a look back at the development of computers. When I first visited that facility, I was in awe at the first UNIVAC commercial computer. It filled an exceptionally large room with banks and banks of metal cabinets housing miles of wires, tubes and mechanical devices to do what today a single laptop can accomplish. It is utterly amazing how far we have come in such a short period of time. It’s amazing to think that the first astronauts who hurtled around the earth had less computing capability than the capacity in a handheld calculator.
The development of the popular and effective antibiotic tetracycline came about less than 50 years ago, and is widely used to treat infections caused by bacteria, including pneumonia and respiratory tract infections among other serious ailments.
Do you like the smooth ride of your automobiles today? You can thank the inventors of the radial tire, which was developed in the 50s.
Have you had some cardiac issues that required the implanting of a pacemaker? Thank the developers of that technology from the 50s that has saved thousands of lives.
Air travel saw the introduction of the 707-120 as Americans jetted from city to city in great comfort and luxury. You might have paid for that trip with a credit card, another creation of the 50s that today we wouldn’t know how to live without.
As a kid, I remember my parents getting my sister and me small transistor radios. I remember listening to mine in my bedroom when Cassius Clay unexpectedly knocked out Sonny Liston in the first round of their fight in Lewiston, Maine. Clay, who would later be known as Mohammad Ali, went on to dominate the boxing world for decades after.
In 1961, Black and Decker launched their first cordless drill. On today’s construction sites, you can see a myriad of cordless devices ranging from drills, saws and other devices created to ease the contractor’s job.
Telstar launched the first communications satellite, providing the beginning of advances in communications and data delivery that would improve all segments of our abilities to communicate and navigate around the world.
Lives would also be saved with the development of the early battery-operated smoke detectors and other safety devices.
In the late 60s, the global system of interconnected computer networks came online. Billions of users today utilize the Internet. Businesses and individuals have come to rely upon it in their everyday lives. A presidential candidate once tried to claim he had invented it, but that just wasn’t true.
We all can be thankful for the advent of the MRI. No matter what injury or illness you might sustain today, detailed medical imaging has become one of the best diagnostic tools available to healthcare professionals.
All of us are amazed at how quickly the desktops and laptops and tablets of the computer families have taken over our lives. I doubt you can walk into any home today and not find at least one of them sitting on a table or desk. Everything we do today seems to revolve around computers, from shopping, to sharing photos, to creating documents and asking Alexa for advice.
All of these things are great, but when they take over our lives and become a substitute for speaking with each other and sharing our thoughts and emotions, it appears to have gone too far. Social media can have a negative impact on individuals, as some abuse it to bully or otherwise create mischief and somewhat hateful experiences for the most vulnerable of our society.
We must be cautious to prevent technology from overriding our responsibilities to others, be they family members, friends or just casual acquaintances. We have a responsibility to keep sight on the importance of personal contact with each other.
I, like many of you, grew up within the time frame of these great technological advances. They certainly have helped to improve our quality of life. But we cannot let those true-life experiences be lost just because it’s “easier” due to technology.
Instead of just sitting across the table and texting each other, let’s talk once in a while. Being competitive is good, winning is great, but if we don’t enjoy it, what good is it? Once in a while, we need to get up and change our own channel, even if it’s just to remember how to do it!