Friday, August 25, 2017



The greatest piece of technology affecting our lives today is without a doubt, the computer.  Forty-Five years ago when I was busy flunking High School mathematics class, the teacher brought in a huge machine he called a computer. It was not anything like what we have these days. It looked like something out of a B-Grade Science Fiction movie, dials and windows and buttons all over.  My buddy Scott leaned over to me and said “I’m going to make a million dollars off these computers”.
I just laughed, but Scott is a millionaire now.
Computers touch on just about every facet of our lives every day. Almost everyone has a cell phone, and cell phones are no longer just telephones; they are computers. Cash registers are hardly meant to hold cash anymore. They total the bill using electronics and microchips, and the payment is made by cards that provide electronic  access directly to a person’s account, and funds are transferred, all through the computer and the internet. I haven’t paid a bill with a check in many years. It’s all done online, through computers.

Even now as I type up this essay,  I can recall my typing class in High School. We had a machine back then, very modern, called a typewriter. You struck the keys, much like I am doing now, and a little silver ball with all the letters of the alphabet spun and flew around stamping ink on a piece of paper you inserted into the machine. If you struck the keys correctly you could remove the paper with your 800 word essay, put it in an envelope, lick a stamp and address it to Western Governors University to be graded for your possible admission there.  With the excellent work of the Postal service, it should be there by the end of the week.
Instead, here I sit typing away at a keypad connected to a machine that bears little resemblance to a typewriter, other than the letters being in the same place. When I finish writing, a few clicks, and  within seconds it will have been received by Western Governors University for their perusal. That is truly amazing.

This technology is used for much more significant endeavors; everything from space flight to smart cars, global positioning to law enforcement. Even the company I work for that provides communications for the airline industry relies almost completely on computers. I did not know when I started ten years ago, but most of the communication between a plane and the ground does not occur by voice between the pilot and the control tower. It occurs in the form of data, transmitted by computer, received by computer, and recorded by computer.

The mathematicians from the 19th century saw it coming, the great science fiction writers saw it coming, and they even say certain Aborigine tribes saw it coming. Certainly, my friend Scott saw it coming. 
I never did. Too busy flunking math.

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