Tech, Gadgets, Photography, Social Media and Poor Spelling
It’s the Diamond Jubilee for the Queen of England today and thats 60 years. This is a long time and a lot has changed in 60 years and the world is a very different different place to the one HRH stepped into as Queen when she stepped out of that Kenyan tree house in 1952
So what has each decade of the queens reign brought us?
The 1950’s were an amazing time in technology 10 years after the end of WW2 and innovation was rife. The 50’s cemented the Technology we know and use to day in so many ways. There were several important inventions from the 50’s and Television was just one of them. the 50s saw nearly every family buying a television set, and nearly everyone watching television for longer and longer periods of time. Television broadcasts became our number one source of news, information, and entertainment during the 50s. Live news broadcasts were now possible coast to coast, and this has changed our world forever.
In 1950 Paper Mate made it’s first leak free ball point pen. The first photocopy machine was made 1950 also 1954 Bell Telephone labs produce solar battery. Polypropylene was invented in 1954 and in 1955 Jonas Salk invented a polio vaccine which was given to more than seven million American students. In 1956 a solar powered wrist watch was invented.
A surprise came in 1957; a 184 pound satellite was launched by the Russians. They named it Sputnik 1. The space race begins 4 months later the United States launch a smaller satellite.
The microchip was invented the first microchip bears little resemblance to its modern equivalent.Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments and Robert Noyce of the Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation (he also co-founded Intel) are credited as being co-founders of the first integrated circuit, in spite of the fact that their creations were six months apart.
Modern computing as we know it was a 1940’s invention however the 1950’s took this notion forward as well as the microchip being invented a huge leap forward in computer storage occured
The Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator (EDSAC) was one of the first British computers and the LEO 1 (Lyons Electronic Office 1), built by J. Lyons and Co, was the first computer used for business applications devised on the EDSAC model.
However, the best part, in 1952 A S Douglas created OXO, noughts and crosses, for the EDSAC with graphical output to a cathode ray tube. This is believed to have been the world’s first video game to use a digital graphic display. It’s a far cry from the gaming laptop of today. Or home PC. Or desktop.
As well as these huge leaps froward in computing communications also got it’s kick start and the fibre-optic revolution started
Physicists Narinder Singh Kapanyand Harold H Hopkins from the UK and Abraham van Heel from Holland simultaneously announced the creation of imaging bundles in 1954.
While these weren’t very good, they did kick-start development. It was Kapany who coined the term fibre optics in 1956 but it was van Heel who discovered that, by covering the bare fibre/glass/plastic with a transparent cladding, contamination and crosstalk were greatly reduced.
Then, in the late 1950s, Lawrence Curtiss improved on this even further by introducing glass clad fibres.
While the 50’s were a post war ear which allowed people to get back to life pre war the 60’s was the age of the Baby Boomer and a time when we put a man on the moon and innovated and moved forward with huge technological strides.
The space race was the obvious big tech of the 60’s with a decade of innovation getting man to space and then to the moon
Most of the technology in the Apollo 11 mission has found its way into our lives and is still being used today
The first games console was also introduced to the world in the 60’s called the “Brown Box” and created by Ralph Baer the fore bearer of the modern games console the device had a two player option and the guy who invented it lost the first public demonstration he gave.
This was eventually turned into a commercial concern in the 1970’s
Another huge innovation invented during the 60’s which we depend on today was the humble mouse. invented by Douglas Engelbart he completly changed the way we interact with computers today.
His creation was made from wood and had two gear-wheels that sat perpendicular to one another so as to allow movement on one axis. When you moved the mouse the horizontal wheel moved sideways and the vertical wheel slid along the surface. He filed for the patent in 1967 as the “X-Y Position Indicator for a Display System.”
It seems Engelbert was a bit of a visionary and was envisaging PC’s and even social media well before their time.
Another huge innovation for the future of the Micro PC we use today was the invention of DRAM. Robert Dennard was the man who redesigned and modified it to create Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM). His insights into how RAM could function more efficiently over a smaller space mean that computers got more memory for less cost and, frankly, took up less space.
There are also examples of innovations of the 60’s which very nearly didn’t happen the Laser is one of them. While laser research had been going on during the 60’s Theodore Maiman perfected the laser in 1960. From bar code readers to precise medical procedures to accurate measurement devices, lasers have become an essential part of our lives and it was Maiman’s determination at a time when others were losing interest in the subject that we have to thank.
For me however one of the most important inventions of the 60’s was Unix In 1969 a group of employees from AT&T at Bell Labs created one of the most popular and powerful operating systems of the age, UNIX. Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, Brian Kernighan, Douglas Mcllroy and Joe Ossana were among the crew who sat down to develop UNIX on the PDP-7. The name was derived from MULTICS, a project run in conjunction with several large companies including Bell Labs that failed to deliver on expectations.
Some other household inventions we still make use of today over 50 years later were the Tape Cassette, the Touch tone phone, the intercity train and the pelican crossing
The ATM was invented in 1969, it allowed bank customers to make transactions from anywhere in the world.
The foundation of technological advancements we see today was laid long back in the 1970s. It was the beginning of a new era in computer development as well as space exploration.
The start of the PC revolution really came about in 1971 when intel invented the fist microprocessor. Until this point there had been other attempts to create a “PC” which had failed dramatically. The microprocessor however changed all this.
This single invention spawned the DIY PC kits and the famous silicon valley computer clubs. The first successful PCs were do-it-yourself kits: the Mark-8 in 1974, the MITS Altair 8800 and Sphere 1 in 1975, and the Apple I in 1976. Then in 1975 The Microsoft Company was formed to write operating systems and software programs for these new machines.
The microprocessor and computer kits spawned things like the first word processor. The first word processor was the Wang 1200 launched in 1971 by An Wang’s company, Wang Laboratories.
While not quite the Word application we use today this hardware replacement to the office type writer was a huge step forward in using microprocessor technology in the office environment.
The Wang 1200 was an unsuccessful product, at least in terms of Wang’s original expectations, but it played an important role in the history of Wang Labs. It is also interesting in the more general context of the development of word processing as a standard part of office automation.
In 1971 something was invented which is both the bain and the core of modern communication systems Email. Invented by Ray Tomlinson in 1971. He says on his site, “I sent the first network email in 1971 using a program I wrote called SNDMSG.”
While we all would imagine that he can remember exactly what he wrote in that groundbreaking email and what he felt like when he sent it, he’s quite open about the fact that he just did it because it seemed like a good idea at the time.
As the decade rolled on Three pre-assembled PC models were introduced….the Apple II, the Tandy Radio Shack TRS-80 and the Commodore PET. however these were still seen very much as Geek items rather than home use PC’s
For the most part on these “home PC’s” data was stored on cumbersome, unreliable tape cassettes. In 1978, Apple began using the floppy disk drive, and the other PC manufacturers began to follow suit.
By the end of the decade names such as Apple and Atari were becomeing huge int eh world of Desktop computing.
However another innovation was taking shape creating the backbone of something we could not exist without today. Modems and phone lines were used to create the first computer network in 1969. During the 1970s, many small computer networks were formed by universities and government agencies. During 1978 and 1979, this technology resulted in the first bulletin board systems andonline services for PC users. The start of the modern internet.
In 1962, ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency) began developing the ARPANET, which used phone lines and packet switching to link entire computers to each other. There were fournodes on this network, and each node could accomodate several computers. The first official transmission via the ARPANET occurred in 1969.
In the beginning, nodes were added to the ARPANET at the rate of about ten per year. By 1973, there were 30 nodes, including Xerox PARC, NASA, the Air Force and the University of London. Electronic mail was developed in 1971, and by 1973 it comprised 75 percent of all ARPANET traffic. In 1975, the ARPANET had 61 nodes.
In 1973, two new computer networks were introduced: PRNET (packet radio) and SATNET (satellite). In 1974, TELENET was the first commercial network service that any business or college could subscribe to. Some universities and government agencies also formed their own networks in the mid 1970s. Scientists hoped to eventually link these networks together, but for the time being, they operated independently of each other.
In 1976, dial-up connections were developed. This gave database and network access to anyone with a computer, phone and modem. The large computers that were connected by nodes became hosts and the legions of dial-up computers became users.
In 1978 and 1979, the new dial-up technology made bulletin board systems and online servicespossible. These were the first online systems for computer hobbyists.
The first bulletin board system (BBS) was created in Chicago in 1978. This dial-up message board was operated by a college student from his personal computer. PC users could dial in, post messages and read messages from other users.
In 1979, Compuserve and The Source gave PC owners their own networks in the form of online services that provided e-mail, games and forums on a subscription basis.
The first successful link between networks was achieved in 1977….PRNET to ARPANET to SATNET to London and back again. The internet that we know and love was on its way!
There were also innovations happening because of the microchip in other areas The Video recorder was starting to come into it’s own.
The first machines to use videocassettes were introduced in 1971. Between 1971 and 1973, a variety of videocassette players and recorders were put on the market, but none of them lasted very long. They included the RCA Selectavision, Sony U-Matic, Ampex Instavision, AVCO Cartrivision and Phillips Video Recorder. Many models were sold with optional video cameras.
In 1975, Sony introduced the Betamax videocassette recorder (VCR), and JVC followed it a year later with the VHS model. At this point, VCRs were still sometimes referred to as VTRs, a holdover from the old reel-to-reel days. At first, high prices prevented most people from owning a VCR, but business picked up when prices began to fall in the mid 1980s.
A new line of video cameras was introduced to go along with the new VCRs. They were very bulky and cumbersome, and could only be used with a portable VCR slung over the shoulder.
The first working prototype of a digital camera was completed in 1975 by Steven Sasson for Kodak.
It weighed in at eight pounds, captured black and white images on a cassette tape, had a resolution of .01 megapixels and was not exactly the handiest of gadgets to cart about.
It counts as the first ever digital camera although it never went into production and it would be some time before Kodak released its first digital camera commercially.
Where companies like Microsoft, Intel, Apple and many more can find thier roots in the innovation of the microprocessor world of the 1970’s. It is the 1980’s when the technological revolution really took hold and the PC stopped becoming a “Geek toy” and moved into the offices of the world.
Personal computers were born in the 1970s, shortly after the development of the microprocessorchip. The Apple I came out in 1976, and the Apple II appeared in 1977. It had a 6502 processor running at 1 MHz. The 6502 was an 8-bit microprocessor chip, and in the Apple II it had a maximum RAMspace of 48 kilobytes. (In contrast, today’s least expensive Apple, the Mac mini, has a processor that runs at 1.5GHz with a 60-gigabyte hard drive and 512 megabytes of RAM.)
Then in 1982 came the IBM PC. It is hard for us today to realize how big a deal this was, but you have to understand the reputation IBM had at the time. IBM made big, mainframe computers for major corporations. By introducing the PC, IBM gave personal computers real credibility. Since the PC came from IBM, it had a strong reputation behind it.
The IBM PC, although pathetic by today’s standards, was very powerful for its time. It had a 16-bit 8088 processor running at 4.77 MHZ. This was a blazing clock speed for the time, almost five times faster than the Apple II or IIe. That, combined with the fact that it could handle 16-bit calculations, combined with the ability to add on the 8087 math co-processor, along with a maximum memory space of 640 kilobytes, made the PC a very powerful machine.
IBM’s machine spawned two revolutions:
Soon there were thousands of hardware and software companies competing in the PC space.
During the ’80s, Intel released the 80286, the 80386 and then the 80486 — a 32-bit processor which had more than a million transistors on a single chip, a clock speed of 25 MHz and a 4-gigabyte memory space. Hard disks, which really didn’t exist in the personal computer marketplace in 1980, became inexpensive and ubiquitous as the decade progressed. By the end of the 1980s, PCs were everywhere.
When IBM released the PC, it came with an operating system called DOS. Like just about every operating system at the time, DOS had a command-line interface. You typed in commands like DIR or COPY, and the operating system would respond. The advantage was that these systems were simple to program and they fit well with the character-based screens that were common at the time. But “normal people” (meaning, non-geeks) had a lot of trouble feeling comfortable with DOS.
Then in 1984 there was an event that changed everything. Apple released the Macintosh computer with its unbelievable Graphical User Interface (GUI). Because we all use GUIs every day, it is hard for us to understand today how revolutionary the Mac was. But if you ask people who lived through the transition, many of them can actually remember the day they saw their first Mac. I do.
The GUI did not become ubiquitous in the 80s, however. Microsoft did not get Windows figured out in any real way until version 3.0 in 1990, and version 3.1 was where things really took off. That was not until 1992.
The 80’s as well as being the time for the Desktop PC were also about Portability in a big way two innovations really sparked this movement.
The first was the Song Walkman
People used it to listen to music while on the move and teenagers everywhere rejoiced at its ability to drown out the sound of their parent’s voices.
While comparing the clunky and heavy TPS-L2 with the iPod you may well walk away chuckling to yourself, but to the children of the 80s it was the epitome of cool.
According to Sony’s history site, ten years after the launch of the first model over 50 million units had been manufactured.
The second was the mobile phone
The concept of the mobile phone had been bandied about for several years, but limitations placed on the allocation of frequencies by the FCC hampered research until AT&T introduced the idea of the cellular system (read more).
Once the hurdle of frequency allocation had been resolved and the FCC had opened the way for further research, mobile phones were on their way.
Motorola launched the DynaTAC 8000x in 1983 with the dimensions of 300x44x89mm and weighing in at a lovely and light 785g. It proudly offered you about one hour of talk time, used an LED display and had an extremely attractive aerial – and it was the sweetest damn thing to own in the 1980s.
and while all this was going mobile there were other advancements in mobile technology which we are still making use of today, the Camcorder
It was in 1983 that 8mm movie cameras finally met their doom. This was the year when Sony and JVC launched the first ever camera-recorders, camcorders to you and me.
Sony stayed with the soon to be defunct Betamovie (Betamax) standard while JVC went with VHS-C.
It was a modern miracle. Gone were the hours of editing, the sweaty lugging around of tons of equipment, the sodden battery life and silent home movies, and in came instant home movies. That you could watch on your VCR. At home. With sound!
Two other innovations of the 80’s are still generating huge sums of money today as billion dollar industrys
The invention of the CD and the Home Games Console
Like the GUI, it is hard for us to imagine life before compact discs, or CDs. It is also hard to imagine just how revolutionary the CD was at the time. But you can get a sense of it by thinking back to the way that people got their music during the 1970s.
The two major formats for holding music in the 70s were the Vinyl LP and the cassette tape. You could also get music from an AM or FM radio station. The 8-track tape was still common in 1980, but it was on the way out because the “compact cassette” was so much better, and you could record your own cassettes to boot.
One thing that all of these formats had in common was hiss. Whether you were playing an LP or listening to a tape, you would hear the hiss. It was just something that everyone expected.
So when the CD came out around 1983, the thing you immediately noticed was the total lack of hiss when you played the CD.
The other thing about CDs was the absence of wear. Cassettes stretched and broke. The oxide flaked off. The capstan that pulled the tape past the head would suffer from “wow and flutter.” Albums had problems with dust, scratches, warping (from heat) and “wow and flutter” as well.
The CD came along and did away with all of that. All of the problems with dust, scratches, stretch, heat, motors, etc. completely disappeared. What you had was pure, clean digital sound. And the CD held over an hour of music. And CDs were rugged — you could stick them in the dishwasher if you wanted to. This whole collection of goodness seemed like a miracle at the time.
There were video game consoles prior to the 1980s, but they weren’t that popular. Video games were in arcades (and running on computers like the Apple II) in the late 1970s, and even simple video game consoles with games like “Pong” were available. Atari released the Atari 2600 in 1977, but sales were slow. In 1979, the 2600 started to gain momentum, and then in 1980 it exploded because of the game “Space Invaders” and falling prices. By 1982, Atari was selling 8 million units a year and video games were everywhere. “Pac-Man,” released in 1980, was exploding at the same time.
These early consoles were incredibly primitive by today’s standards. The Atari 2600 used a 6507, a primitive 8-bit processor running at 1.19 MHz. The graphics resolution was about 160 x 190 pixels and 128 colors, but you could only have four colors per line. The console had 128 bytes of RAM. A game cartridge contained a 4,048-byte ROM (although later cartridges could have 32 kbytes divided into eight 4K pages).
What this meant is that the games on the Atari 2600 were very simple. Just a few moving objects, 2-D sprite-type animation, a handful of colors on a mostly black screen. There simply was not enough processing power or memory available to do much else.
Where the previous decades were arguably all about the personalisation of PC’s and putting the technology into our hands the 90’s were all about getting us all connected. Microsoft and Apple reigned supreme in the PC world over the decade both companies would start an unrelenting progression towards getting you and I to use the Internet.
1991 when the WWW first became available for the public it grew dramatically with users multiplying at the rate of about 3500 times a year , by the year 2000 there were an estimated 295 million users on the Internet. This in turn caused a continuing revolution in communication and business.
In 1990 Tim Berners-Lee wrote the first web client (browser-editor) and server which went on to shape the internet that we still use today using a client server model.
This internet growth over the 90’s spawned web companies and sites which are today multi billion dollar concerns
Some of the sites however are slightly different from what we know today..
These websites show that the world wide web was in its infancy
Just as music devices went portable in the 80’s the PC went portable in the 1990’s with the introduction of the laptop computer
The 90’s saw the growth of many technology companies from small beginnings to a market dominant position , possibly the best example is Microsoft who from small beginnings now have their operating systems installed on 80% of the world’s computers. Microsoft managed to provide users with the technology they wanted at an affordable price but also due to it’s strength in the market leaves little room for new companies to emerge. After many years of being the hero of people and governments , both the United States and the European Union are attacking Microsoft for the restraint of competition.
Possibly the field of Medical Science and the advances made in the late 90’s will have the biggest impact on our society with 2 advances that leave us with moral and political questions for the future.
1. Cloning is the ability to clone one animal from the cell of another animal. A sheep later called Dolly which was cloned from the cell of an adult Ewe and was fused with an unfertilized egg cell from which the nucleic DNA had been removed.
2. Stem Cell Research In 1998 stem cells derived from the human embryo were first isolated, and research to help in many of the diseases and illnesses we suffer from is currently underway. But any research has a reliance on the use of a human embryo which is morally repugnant to many in our society.
Many believed prior to this that this was the stuff of science fiction. The human race will need to wrestle with the moral dilemmas social and political implications of this technology for many years to come.
The 90’s also saw the development and growth of Genetic engineering or genetic modification (GM) Foods and the growth of the new science of Biotechnology. GM is used to help make plants resistant to herbicides and insecticides, by the late 90’s about 100.00 million acres were planted with Soybean, Maize, Cotton, Canola, and it is estimated that over 60% of products on U.S. grocery shelves include GM ingredients.
The 00’s have seen our usage of the internet become ingrained in our culture we are connected to it 24×7 and are posting every part of our lives. At no other point in history has there been such a well documented day to day life of the common man.
Some of the key points of the last 12 years include
New inventions of 2008 include: smog-earing cement, high altitude flying windmills, bionic contacts, pig-urine plastic.
New inventions of 2009 include: a new computer interface called the sixth sense, and a retinal implant for the blind.
New inventions of 2011 include: fabrics made from raw milk, a new kind of photography, an electronic bloodhound, the world’s smallest ink jet printer.
During the reign of Her Majesty the world has changed in more than just technology
In 1952, the most unusual, or uncommon, job for a man was a ‘Puddler’ – a term which is relatively unheard of these days – better known as an Ironmaker.
There were only 203 of them in England and Wales, a huge contrast to today, where the most uncommon job for a man is a Fitness Instructor – of which there are over 7000.
Births have gone up by almost 40% and marriages have decreased by around 100,000.
When the queens father died in 1952 most people heard the news on a radio, there were no computers in offices and news papers were the main source of news. There were no satellites around the planet and man had not been to the moon. Intercontinental travel was still in its infancy at best and the fastest mode of transport for the average man was the train.
The changes to our life in connectivity and communications are huge in such a relatively small period of time and I’d suggest that it’s hard to figure out which decade was the most innovative. Each decade has built on the last turning technology from an engineering project to a consumer item over 60 years.
I guess the obvious question is simple.. What will the planet be like in 60 years time?