life in and around NYC is insane

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Songbird salutes the 70's -- computer technology

As I was driving past my old high school this evening, it occurred to me that there was more computing power on the front seat of my car, in the form of my smart phone and tablet, than there was in that entire building circa 1978.

Do you remember what computers were like back then?  The "computer room" was full of strange and mysterious equipment.  Keypunch operators fed punch cards into the machine.  Ultimately the computer would print out report cards or school schedules. or whatever was required. 

I took a computer programming class my senior year.  We prepared flow charts and wrote instructions in "Basic". We sat at a terminal and typed instructions onto a roll of paper, then waited for the computer to respond.  It was considered remarkable when the computer was able to "draw" a picture using dots and dashes to form an image.

My smartphone, a device I can hold in one hand, can:  make a phone call or a video call, tell me who is calling, serve as an answering machine if I don't answer the call, send and receive text messages and emails, store all my contacts, act as my datebook/calendar, allow me to read books, magazines and newspapers, listen to radio stations or my own music, let me watch movies and TV shows and other videos, play games, monitor my diet, exercise and health statistics, serve as a calculator, draft documents, map out a route and give me a traffic report, remind me where  I parked the car, fetch a train schedule and tell me if my flight is on time, act as an alarm clock, give me a weather report, let me shop for almost anything, take a picture or shoot a video...and I'm sure there are many things I can do that I haven't even thought of.

Amazing.

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