I took a computer class at Del Mar Community College which was its official name back in the 70’s. Bear in mind that keypunch cards were still used to input programs and data. If you have no idea what that is, consider yourself lucky. The evolution of computers has been a source of amazement to me.
At some point in the class, the prof said that the day would come when checks would be obsolete and people would use plastic cards to pay for things. Not credit cards. The cards would instantly transfer cash directly out of your bank and into the store’s.
He also predicted that one day there would be an “Answer Machine,” a tool for answering homework problems. By using a typewriter keyboard, you could ask the machine a question and the answer would appear on the wall. This machine could also play movies and music.
Does any of that sound familiar?
I heard his forecasts with trepidation and thought that if this could happen, could Asimov’s and Heinlein’s fiction become a reality? Things that seemed foreign and much too futuristic in the 70’s have become daily and indispensable tools in 2011.
I wonder if cave dwellers were as awed by the wheel as I was the first time I sent a fax or scanned a document and then saw it on my computer screen. Our grandmother was raised in the late 1800’s and often rode the wagon with her dad from Loire (Texas) into the San Antonio market to replenish the shelves of their little grocery store. It was in San Antonio that she sat on a flush toilet for the first time. Having no idea that it might be different from the outhouse toilet, she was “startled to near death” when her dad pulled the chain that caused the roar that made the wastewater go down the drain.
Over her nearly 90 years, our grandmother got to see lots of innovations, accepted many, and rejected a few. She was a big fan of color television and gas-powered lawn mowers. She was quite willing to pass on the air conditioner. That was one that baffled us and caused plenty of sweaty nights at Grandma’s house.
I embrace most new technology. I don’t understand it. I’m still trying to understand how Bluetooth, Blu-Ray, and WI-FI work. Maybe I don’t need to understand. Just enjoy them. I was adverse to the Keurig which isn’t new technology but it is a newfangled thing. I love it now.
I made noise about loving the smell of paper and not really understanding why anyone would want an electronic book. Nina and Claire get so excited about books they’ve downloaded onto their electronic readers that I’m getting interested. I’m a little jealous of the people in my AA meeting who bring their Nooks and I-Pads to Big Book study. I’m pricing a Nook out now.
I have nights when I avoid anything that requires an electric cord (except lamps). But for the most part, electronics are so twined into my life that we are Siamese cousins. It’s less scary to imagine what the future might be like when I’m living the future I feared. And loving it-mostly!