It is impossible to fully describe the impact of technology since I was born. I was initially brought up using an outside toilet, and a tin bath filled on Friday nights. The television had one channel, if you were lucky enough that it was working properly. There was the wireless, (radio) and records played on a ‘gramaphone’.
Cars were unreliable, and constantly broke down. Heating was a coal fire, and nobody had heard of deodorant.
By the time I was 12, there was gas-fired heating, and the first cassette recorder. Cars began to work properly, and we had three channels on the TV, which was also (amazingly) available in colour by the time I was 17. Ballpoint pens had replaced bottles of ink, labour-saving devices had replaced hand-washing and preparing food, and there was a new thing called a ‘Freezer’, which froze food for later use.
I was living in the ‘Golden Age’, undoubtedly!
Things just kept getting better. When I was 18, I had a cassette player in my car, later changed to an 8-Track. Transistor radios had replaced the old wireless sets, and the TV actually worked without being constantly adjusted. Cheap jet travel had made foreign holidays possible for almost anyone, and people who had never left Britain were holidaying in exotic-sounding places like Benidorm, and Lloret Del Mar.
By the time I was married at 25 in 1977, there were VHS video recorders. A complete marvel at the time. Watch a propgramme while you taped something on the other side. It was like a magic trick!
It didn’t end there. I received a plastic card to allow me to spend money on credit without having to carry any cash around, and in 1999, I bought my first mobile phone. I could make a call from anywhere, at anytime. No need to queue outside a phone box ever again, as long as I had enough balance left on the SIM card. By 2002, I had a laptop. It was like something from a spaceship to me, and I had to spend all day at a friend’s house so he could show me how to use it.
But I still only had ‘dial-up’ Internet, and it took 15 minutes to download a photo sent to me on an email. That didn’t matter, because to me it was like a miracle unfolding in front of my eyes.
Just 20 years ago. Hard to believe now, isn’t it?
In the meantime we got CD, DVD, Broadband, Fibre Optics, Social Media, Streaming, Internet TV with 200 stations, Netflix, even more reliable cars, and we could travel the world for a fraction of what that cost previously.
Technology is an ever-developing monster of our own creation. It can do good. But it can also do bad, as we know.