Monday, August 28, 2006

Changes in technology

I guess we can consider this entry a "Notes on the Journey to Nerdville" entry.

I was thinking last week that I can't remember the last time I checked out a videocassette of a movie from BlockBuster. Nor a DVD, for that matter. Back in the 80's and 90's, it was practically a weekend requirement to check out a movie or two to watch over the weekend, but now those can be sent to you via NetFlix or other such services. There's still a BlockBuster near me, but I haven't been there in probably years. Most of the time, I just buy the movies that I want to watch rather than rent them.

However, this is not the only change in technology that I've noticed. Whenever I was saving some artwork last week, for some reason I noticed the Save icon. It's of a floppy disk. Here's a Wikipedia entry on floppys. Way, way back, that is what we used to store our info instead of today's flash drives. But the amount of info that a floppy carries compared to your usual flash drive makes the floppy look more than merely stupid. Of course, we didn't know that back then, so we went along merrily with our limited memory floppys. And using big, clunky computers that printed out their documents on tractor feed dot matrix printers. I can see some of you remembering the familiar loud, wrreeeek wreeeek wreeeek wreeeek that dot matrix printers made while printing your documents. Some of you old school geeks may still have your dot matrix printers because you hold on to them like someone else holds on to their childhood teddy bear. ;-)

Anyway, after floppy disks came ZIP drives. While the standard floppy held 1.44 MB of data, ZIP drives held 100 MBs (and later, 250 and 750 MBs). To the computer geek of that time, getting a disk that held nearly 70 times the amount of data that a floppy held was enough to make them stand with eyes and mouth wide open and say "Whoooooooa." However, ZIPs didn't catch on as hoped, and it wasn't as widely circulated as the floppy.

One of the reasons that it didn't catch on was because of flash drives. The flash drive I currently have holds 2 GBs of info - about 20 times the memory of the standard 100 MB ZIP disk, and - are you sitting down? - nearly 1,400 times the space of the old 1.44 MB floppy disk. All that, and in a space much smaller than either the floppy or the ZIP disk. Now THAT should make you stand with eyes and face open as you say "Whoooooooa."

My oldest nephew is currently 9 years old. Who knows what kind of tech that he'll have by the time he goes to college? He may laugh at my 2 gig flash drive and say "You actually used THAT??" Then he'll whip out his watch that works on voice command and tell it to project its holographic image so that he can show how he accesses the Internet with it, and how he saves his data to a virtual server. And then I'll be the one that goes, "Whooooa."

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