Saturday, February 22, 2014

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Write About Technology

It's Saturday Night - 
time for more Genealogy Fun! 

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission Impossible! music) is to:

1)  Julie Goucher, on her Anglers Rest blog, has a long-running weekly blog theme called The Book Of Me.  This week's prompts are about Technology.  We'll use that this week!

2)  For this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - please address these issues:
  • What technology changes did your ancestors see?
  • What technology changes have you seen?
  • Did your family own one of those early changes? - such as television
  • Do you like or dislike technology?
  • What do you think has been the best technological change in your lifetime and historically?
3)  Answer the questions, and share your work on your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, or on Facebook or Google+.

Here's mine:

a)  The technology changes that my ancestors saw depends on the generation and the times they lived in.  For instance:

b)  My great-great-grandparents, who were born between 1815 and 1845 and lived into the 20th century, saw tremendous changes in modes of travel -- from horseback and buggy and sailing ships  to trains and steamboats and automobiles.  When they were born, light came from the sun, candles and gas lamps, and many lived to see electric lights.  Communication went from letters and town criers to newspapers and telegraph and telephones.  

c)  My great-grandparents, who were born between 1845 and 1870, and lived into the mid-20th century, saw the mass production of automobiles and the use of airplanes for transportation.  They saw the use of more electrical machinery to mechanize work and the invention of radio, television and movies.  They grew some of their own food, or bought it from local farmers and ranchers.

d)  My grandparents, who were born between 1875 and 1900, and lived well into the 20th century saw even more changes in transportation, household appliances (refrigerators, washing machines, etc.) and communications devices.  The space program, early computers, routine airplane travel, etc. were introduced.  My maternal grandfather, Lyle Carringer, loved everything new and technological.  He was an early adopter of automobiles, refrigerators, radios, televisions, etc.  

e)  My parents saw all of those things mature, and be made into commodities.  The digital revolution started and gradually replaced analog devices.  Space travel became commonplace.  However, I don't recall them being early adopters of new technology.  My father worked an adding machine, but neither ever sat at a computer.  In this generation, leisure time became available because of household and workplace inventions that made tasks easier to perform.  My parents rarely took vacations away from San Diego, and my mother flew on an airplane twice in her life.  I don't think my father ever did.  

f)  I was born in 1943, so I grew up with electric lights, radio, television, refrigerators, grocery stores, and telephones (my home's number was ATwater 1-4182).  In my generation, the computer became ubiquitous, more powerful and smaller in size.  I wrote software for work and play in FORTRAN starting in 1966, and bought my first PC in 1983.  The hand-sized smart phone I have is more powerful than the Space Shuttle's computer from the 1980s.  The biggest technological advance I've seen is software development to address almost every educational, entertainment, and economic need and the ability to communicate over the Internet in real time.

g)  I consider myself to be a relatively early adopter of technology - I tend to buy the second version of devices after the bugs are wrung out of the first version.  I love almost every aspect of it.  I work 8 to 12 hours a day using digital technology to learn, to research and to write.  I can do every task much faster on the computer than 30 years ago, and therefore can make more misteaks in a shorter period of time.  I can also do more tasks in a given period of time using digital technology, and can be more productive.  The drawback is, of course, that I have a sedentary lifestyle and my body mass and health status reflect that.  But it is so enticing to sit here in the genealogy cave and tap away on my keyboard and see my words in print immediately after I hit the publish button.  

h)  The best technological development in my lifetime has been the digital computer.  No doubt.  It has affected communications, entertainment, and economics tremendously over the past 70 years, not to mention genealogical education and research.  

i)  The best technological development in history?  For me, it's a tossup between the printing press, the electric light bulb, the automobile, the airplane, and the digital computer.

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Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver


Bill West said...

My post is here:

DE Murray said...

hope this isn't too long

Randy covered most of the big ones. I think the changes in my life time (1950 to present) are the most remarkable. While my great grandmother and her parents and siblings left the comforts of 1870’s New York to travel to Missouri. They may have traveled by train at least out of New York and possibly some by boat but what I remember are the stories of the covered wagon and the water shortages. The family lived there for more than a decade since they were in both the 1870 and 1880 Census’. She lived until 1956 and saw so many changes from not being able to keep anything cold through “ice boxes” to real electric refrigerators. Think about the washing too. Everything had been done by hand after pumping the water from a well. Horse and buggies to automobiles.

I think the most amazing thing to me is space. I remember well when sputnik went up and even though there was a cold war going on everyone listened while holding our breath. I was young and walking with my older sister one night and I remember looking up into the sky and asking if she thought we might one day actually walk on the moon. In 1969 we all sat around the TV every night listening and then that heart stopping moment when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the moon.

The theoretical ideas that led to the theory of relativity down to the technology for the Hadron Collider and finding the Boson Higgs particle are nothing short of miracles. The telescopes that allow us actually to see the universe expanding,

I don’t know how many out there know what a slide rule is, but used one, and used it effectively. When calculators came along my first Texas Instrument calculator I needed for engineering school cost $300. If there was one that simple today it would probably cost $1.00 it that. But I have been a tech buff until recently. I love my computer and I finally got a smart phone. I must be smart because I haven’t been able to figure out much more than calling and texting. I’ll use my Cannon SLR for pictures.

That’s my take on technology anyway.