Feb. 21, 2020

Changing Technology

Sometimes, when you stop to think about it, the pace of changing technology is overwhelming, especially to older people.  I used to reflect on my Grandmother Hall’s life span and what she was able to witness during her 94 years on this planet.  She saw covered wagons in the 1890’s and a rocket put a man on the moon in 1969. She rode in wagons that used buggy whips to increase the speed and in automobiles that used a pedal on the floor to increase the speed.  In the early days of the twentieth century it took all day to make a trip to any of the four towns around Lake Martin, Dadeville, Alexander City, Tallassee or Wetumpka. Of course there was no Lake Martin in those days and it might not have taken the whole day to go to some of them.  Today you can go to all four towns and be home for lunch.


These days I reflect on the changes in technology I have experienced and find myself amazed at the pace in which things have changed.  I understand that Gordon Griffith had the first phone in Red Hill in the mid-1940’s.  My cousin Sellers Hall had joined the USAF and wanted to call his mother on Mr. Gordon’s phone. His mother had to walk from where the rock house on Castaway Island Road is just down below the vet’s office, to 4068 Red Hill Road where Mr. Gordon then lived to receive the call, which is just over a mile.  Prior to Mr. Gordon getting the first phone, Mr. Palmer Taylor had sold his grocery business across from the Red Hill School and moved to Eclectic so that he could get phone service for his new petroleum products distribution business.


Not too long after I got out of the USAF in 1960, I went to work for IBM in Tampa, Florida.  At that time computers were electro-mechanical devices rather than electronic and received most of their information from punched cards.  Within a few years I had the responsibility to maintain all the computers in all the banks in Tampa.  At that time the holes in the cards were the data of the card and were read with metal fingers being pushed through the hole in the card.  Very soon the holes were being read by a light going through the hole to a photo cell behind the card.  After that came magnetic character recognition using characters printed in magnetic ink.  Still later characters could be photo scanned.


All those bank computers in Tampa, with all their computing power, could not come close to matching the cell phone in my hand today.  The first car phone I owned almost filled up my trunk space. And it could only be used in a limited number of areas. Today my hand held device can just about be used everywhere. With Google and a cell phone you can just about find out everything you wish to know about just about everything.


The futurists are predicting driverless cars and trucks.  What is going to happen to all the truck drivers without a job, all the taxi drivers and Uber drivers no longer needed?