Monday, June 15, 2009

Hang on...here we go around again!

Today I complete another circuit around the sun...my 45th said trip.

It's so hard to grasp that I'm quickly closing in on half a century of existence. Granted I don't remember a great deal about the first 5 or so years, but my capacity meter still shows a lot of data stored in the old melon-sized hard drive I call a head. The true question would be is the drive over half full or is there still lots of room for more data? I am an older model you know but adequately equipped for upgrades...

If you'd be so kind as to indulge a brief stroll down the proverbial memory lane...let's look specifically at technology in my lifetime.

I graduated high school in 1982 from a school that still used carbon paper to make copies. The brand new Xerox copy machine the school purchased was too expensive (and technical) for teachers to make bulk copies.

The very first computer I used for practical application (and I say that loosely) was an IBM System 36 Model 5360 while in my first year at Vanderbilt University. The class I was taking was Computer Programming...which used Pascal, a structured programming language. The computer weighed over 700 pounds and had to be kept in a temperature controlled room. A dozen terminals were outside the room for student use/abuse.

Upon checking into my first duty station after being commissioned as a US Marine officer, I was issued a Sharp PC-5000 laptop computer... before I was issued my sidearm (which then was the Colt .45). It was part of the 'new Marine Corps' which can easily be translated to 'let's see if we can bog down the normally nimble Marines with bureaucratic red tape requirements too.' The Sharp PC-5000 is not recommended as a hand-to-hand combat weapon...

As the Classified Materials Custodian for my command (a collateral duty that had federal prison consequences attached if you messed up), I was responsible for, among other things, the secure holding and issue of the command's GPS devices...Garmin under guard basically. They were classified as Top Secret issues...

The only ways to communicate with family back home from my duty station in Hawaii was 25 cents a letter or 42 cents a minute on the phone. No email, no instant messaging, no free mobile to mobile or friends in a calling circle, no video conferencing, no fax machines and no text messaging. I'm sure all of the Y-generation readers are now convulsing in complete incomprehension...

I 'rented' my first cell phone in 1992 for business use in my first post-Corps civilian job. A Motorola 'bag phone' was the only option. This was also the phone I used when I began working part-time broadcasting high school sports for a local radio station. Setting up to broadcast then required a table for the phone, power adapter (and source), mixing board and research materials. Today, I can broadcast from the bleachers with just a laptop and headset if necessary... and it sounds 1000% better.



Speaking of radio, commercials were recorded on a tabletop reel-to-reel recorder for sound quality. Messed up? Back up the tape and try again. Went 32 seconds on a 30 second spot (which was timed with a stop watch)? Edit copy, back up and try again. Now, I record my promo's on my home or laptop computer, edit for time through compression, take out any deep breaths by digital edit, make my voice sound a little deeper, and email the spot in an mp3 for airing. A spot can literally be on air within a few minutes of emailing. Wish compression editing worked on waistlines....

Just a very few examples of changes my years have seen in the area of technology. I think most people my age appreciate the devices and medias we have today because we've lived without them. Either that or we stick our heads in the sand and pretend the world is the same as it was when Ronald Reagan was elected President...the first time.

Ahhhh...the good old Reagan years...where did they go...

11 comments:

Luke said...

Happy Birthday!

~Luke

BeckeyZ said...

Happy Birthday Tony.....you're just a couple years older than me.

Hope you have a great day (and an awesome cake - it's just not a great birthday without an awesome cake).

Jeff said...

Happy Birthday Tony. I really appreciate your sense of humor and way with words. It is truly a gift. I am quickly approaching middle age myself and can identify with a lot of what you mentioned (I am seven years or so behind you). I think I found you through the blogs Luke follows and I think it is a good find.

I too wish there was compression editing for waistlines. And agree I would love to go back to the Reagan era.

Dave said...

Happy Birthday Tony. I hope you enjoy your day. I'm only a few years behind you and can completely relate. My kids think I'm crazy when I tell them we didn't have cell phones and the internet when I was their age. They can't conceive of a world without it.

David said...

Happy belated, Birthday Tony.

Well, I am winning the race. I did the half-century thing last August. Mary Anne had a blowout for me, got me a video camera and a BBQ-- we had a blues jam, and friends I haven't seen in 25 years showed (food was free). So, I will be there. You just tell Candice I am coming.

Bag phones-- the is what some of the mean kids called talkative students they didn't like when I was a teacher.

Colt .45-- good side arm... the only difference is now I need a red dot.

Hey when I was a DJ, we used to play our albums forward!

Enjoy it.

dons_mind said...

i knew there was a reason i stop by here every once-in-a-while...thanks for serving our country man....semper fi

and btw, happy birthday! many more....

Lula! said...

Well...happy, happy, happy to you...
you old man.

Kidding.

I always tell my eldest daughter, "When I was in school, we did research the old-fashioned way--IN THE LIBRARY." There was no internet when I was in high school. Well...there was, I guess...but we surely didn't have it in 1993.

Sigh.
I'm old, too.

Anonymous said...

Just came to hear you chatter after reading your posting on Rosie's blog...great stuff...love your recap of "those good old days" in technology. I can remember when I started working at my now 40-year-old job back in the 60s that I had to "type" the copies when my boss needed more copies of a letter...the carbon paper would never make enough impressions! Oh, love those new machines!!! Keep up the great writing, Tony...happy birthday!

Laretha said...

Happy, happy birthday Tony!

Sorry it's late, I was just making your birthday last longer! :-)

Mine is this month too - Monday. Hubby is end of the month.

June is a great birthday month!

I pray your entire year is blessed and the favor of the Lord is all over your year.

eaglegirl said...

Belated Happy Birthday. When parents tell their kids about what was not available 'back when' they sort of act like it was in dinosaur days.
Our parents said things like,' when I was a kid I walked 5 miles to school each way, in the snow, sleet and freezing rain'.
Wonder what our kids will say to our grandkids is similar form. Lord willing we will still be around to hear and laugh.

NC Sue said...

Hi Tony -

Happy Birthday (belated of course).

You mentioned the changes in technology you've seen. Years ago I read a book by Eddie Rickenbacher, who was a WW I fighter pilot/flying ace. He'd been born in horse & buggy era, worked some with Henry Ford on the first automobiles, saw (and flew) the first airplanes, and witnessed rockets in space. Can you imagine?