Editor’s Note: Below is another column in Steve Canipe’s series called Boomer Bytes. The column, as the title suggests, will focus on a variety of topics that may be of interest to baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964. But Canipe also hopes to start a conversation with younger generations, too. Check out an introduction and Canipe’s (first self-titled) column here.
- See second column – Are We Really Old? – here.
- See third column – Cars and More Cars – here.
- See fourth column – Getting Educated – here.
- See fifth column – Home Alone? – here.
- See sixth column – Death – here.
- See seventh column – They’re Playing Our Song – here.
- See eighth column – Driving: Knowing When To Quit – here.
- See ninth column – Hobbies: What’s Your Favorite – here.
- See 10th column – ‘The Last of Life, for which the First was Made’ – here.
- See 11th column – Volunteeering – here.
- See 12th column – Duck and Cover – here.
- See 13th column – Providing for the Future – here.
- See 14th column – Here We Go Wandering… – here.
- See 15th column – State of Schools – here.
- See 16th column – Our War – here.
- See 17th column – Behind the Curtain – here.
- See 18th column: Our Mind
By Steve Canipe
May 23, 2014. One of the things that I have noticed as I get older is that the seeming rate of change is getting faster and faster. Being a sort of analytical person, when I really think about it, this sort of makes sense. For example we all remember when we were young when it seemed that holidays like Christmas never came quickly.
When we were aged 6 the time from one Christmas to the next was one-sixth of our life time; we had few comparisons other than our lifespan. Now at age 68, Christmas comes in one-sixty-eighth of our lives or about 10 times faster on a comparative basis. So that now with it being late May the year seems half over and we just did Christmas, New Year’s, and Easter already. The only big holidays left are Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and now it’s Christmas again – already!!
So time seems to shrink for us as we live longer. But there are lots of other things that change as well. There are so many things that we did not have as children that are so common today that we don’t even think about them.
Television is one of these things. I was about 6 years old when my parents got their first television set. I lived near Charlotte so Channel 3 (WBTV) was the only station clear enough to watch. We could sometimes get Channel 2 in Greensboro but only after channel 3 had signed off for the night or before it signed on in the mornings. You remember those times right? The national anthem was played and then on came the “test pattern” and then white noise!!
Today living with digital cable and satellite services there are hundreds of available channels. I must say that I tend to watch only a few of them — mostly sports channels and nature/educational ones although there are a few network shows I still enjoy.
But beyond television, there have been so many other things that have happened in our lifetimes — the transistor radio being one. Do you remember your first one? I do and the freedom it game me to listen to the music I wanted to without being told it was that awful “rock and roll” stuff. A professor at Harvard University named Clay Christensen wrote a book discussing the massive change that this little transistor caused. His book is called Disrupting Class.
There were many other changes that came and came rapidly due to both military need and also the space race that we were in with the then Soviets. Business picked up on advances and marketed them aggressively. With the buying power of our sizeable boomer generation, we were a force to be reckoned with and focused on by marketers.
Arguably one of the major change forces we have witnessed is the computer and its underlying microprocessor development. Today there is hardly any appliance, car, or device that is not in some way controlled by a microprocessor. A microprocessor is just a computer in miniature.
We probably all remember the earliest computers – the TRS-80 from Radio Shack, the Commadore 64, and the Apple II. We also remember when IBM became a big player in the game and brought Bill Gates and Microsoft to powerful control of the market. There were even smaller companies out there that made some forays into the personal computer territory…one of these was my first one and was called a Sinclair. It did not last long and was terribly inefficient but was fun – it really was more of a toy than a working machine.
My first “real” computer was the Apple II, which was very expensive, nearly $1000, and this was in the late 1970s. It did not have a monitor or a floppy drive let alone a hard drive. You used a cassette player to input programs and to save your data. Oh yes the cassette did not come with it!! It operated very slowly and fully maxed out had RAM memory at 4 Kb – yes that is kilobytes not megabytes!! The computer I am typing this article on has 16 GB of RAM – this is more than a million and half times more than my first Apple computer!! And the sad thing is that even with a monitor and 500 MB hard drive it was only slightly more than $1000 in 2014 dollars – in 1980 dollars it would be about $360. Wow have we come a long way or what?
Of course I was an early adopter and had to have a modem – it hooked to the telephone line with an acoustic coupler and had a whopping data transfer speed of 16 baud or 1.6 kilobytes/sec. Today’s high speed connections that are typical in homes are about 30 megabytes/sec. Remember that a megabyte is about 1000 times faster than a kilobyte.
There is a college in Wisconsin that each year posts a listing of what their entering students don’t know or haven’t experienced – it is called the mindset list and is very eye opening. For the current list visit the Beloit College site. I have pulled a few of the most interesting things – these would be for the graduating class in 2017…these could be our grandchildren!!
The following list is from the Beloit College website and has only a few examples of the 60 or so in the list:
They could always get rid of their outdated toys on eBay.
A tablet is no longer something you take in the morning.
Jurassic Park has always had rides and snack bars, not free-range triceratops and velociraptors.
Thanks to Megan’s Law and Amber Alerts, parents have always had community support in keeping children safe.
With GPS, they have never needed directions to get someplace, just an address.
There has never been a national maximum speed on U.S. highways.
Their parents’ car CD player is soooooo ancient and embarrassing.
Let me hear from you about your thoughts on the rate of change as it is affecting you or your family. What do you do to keep time in perspective or do you just not worry about it? Send your thoughts, either via email at [email protected] or post them at the end of the column. I’ll look forward to hearing from you.