Sometimes when people ask me what I do for a living, I say that I am a technologist. It is kind of an odd term but fits me pretty well. I have made a career out of being on the leading edge of technology since I taught myself how to use a computer when I was 25. I have speculated many times about the direction of technology and been right often enough to make a living.
I have an equal number of regrets about technology that I should have jumped into and didn’t. For example Apple stock was selling for under $5 per share in 2004. Today it is trading for $195.
Technology is such a relevant thing. I would like to have a dollar for every time I had a conversation with someone older than I am saying they are not interested in embracing new technology. My canned response is, “Do you ride your horse to work”? Of course not. Yet one hundred years ago many people still did ride horses or walk and cars were the new technology. We wouldn’t dream of not having a car now.
I grew up in a time of rotary phones and party lines. There really were no computers to speak of yet and automation consisted of punch cards. My parents and their generation would often drive to see people when they wanted to talk. They really weren’t much for talking on the phone.
My generation was different. My generation grew up talking on the phone and most of us still do.
The IBM PC came out in 1980 which changed the landscape in a dramatic fashion. Suddenly there were computers everywhere. In 1985 when I was twenty five cell phones came out. I remember owning a bag cell phone which was really high tech at the time. It was the size of a lunch box. It had a huge battery that didn’t last long and a strap so you could carry it with you. It was heavy and not very convenient.
By the time the 1995 rolled around, the Internet had taken hold and people were going online in masses. I owned one of the first Internet services in the area at the time, and the first service in New York State that was completely Windows based. (Everything before that used Unix or Linux).
I was wearing a pager and most people I knew had one. I even started a business selling pagers. That business didn’t do very well and didn’t last long. Pagers now are a thing of the past and that was only 20 years ago.
By the time my son was a teenager (2005 ish?) there were cell phones everywhere. Even the kids had them. I remember finally relenting when he was in high school because it was just easier to communicate rides home from school and sports activities using a cell phone.
People from that generation use text messaging and often don’t like to talk on the phone much. That’s how things change.
Now smart phones are the thing and we do everything on them, email, messaging, browsing the Internet, etc. It has gotten to the point the Internet service is considered a utility like electricity, water service or natural gas.
Many businesses are using the Internet for phone service (IP phones). This allows for people being able to work from anywhere and working from home, telecommuting, has become a thing. And I am one of those people that makes that possible.
Recently I passed on buying a house to flip largely due to the lack of high speed Internet service. I think most of us will live to see unlimited high speed Internet service delivered by wireless that will be available to everyone regardless of location.
All this technology is really great in some ways and not so great in others. I will get to that in my next article :).