Letters to my sons.

Trying to explain the world to two very small children.


without comments

Dear Son,

this morning at around 6am I was changing your nappy, for the whole time you were preoccupied with the radio alarm clock. Maybe it was the red LED numbers that caught your eye as red tends to get your attention. This got me thinking about how you will view technology when you’re older.

When I was a kid digital watches were the height of technology. When they first came out you pressed a button on the side of the watch and the face would light up and show you the time with a red LED. The LCD watches came out and I got one for Xmas 1980. It told the time, the date and had a stop watch as well so I could time events. It even had a programmable alarm. I think this was when I became obsessed with the correct time because the watch told the full time : hours, minutes and seconds. We had a teletext TV that told the exact time so I could sync my watch everyday. Around 1984 I bought another digital watch for myself. This had 24 hour display, hourly chime (it could be set to beep every hour or every 30 minutes), a count down, stop watch and you could wear it whilst diving. All over the UK on the hour various beeps would be emitted from wrists. At the time I could see no future for analogue watches.

I got my first computer when I was 12 years old, a year after first getting a games console. Games for our Atari console cost £35 pop in 1982 when that was a lot of money, I still think it’s a lot of money now. A mobile phone is more powerful than the Sinclair Spectrum that arrived in 1982, so is an iPod. In fact my iPod Mini has a 4 gigabyte hard disk, the first Intel computer I bought in 1992 had a 40 megabyte hard disk and you couldn’t get bigger at the time.

When your cousin Lewis was born I took the early train to Newcastle and then another up to Hexham and took some pictures using an APS camera. They were developed using a one hour service the following Monday and scanned that evening and uploaded to the web. Digital cameras existed in 1999 but were very poor quality unless you had a few grand to burn.

Within minutes of your birth I had sent a picture of you to Uncle Phil using my phone and two hours after you were born I had published pictures of you on the Internet. When Lewis was born the one hour developing of photographs was a minor miracle and APS photo’s came back with a contact sheet which at the time was thought of as advanced.

You live in an age where the Internet will be ubiquitous to the extent that it will disappear. For us TV got better when a fourth channel was added, cable and satellite TV were a revelation. Your Great Grand Mother Cleaver wasn’t impressed when she first saw television. They were showing tennis and the picture quality was poor. “You can’t see the ball” was her considered opinion.

For some of us who grew up recording stuff off the radio the video recorder was a must have item. Now they are being slowly phased out as people use hard disk recording instead. That will become old hat some day soon as we have TV on demand already. Trails have started for TV on mobile phones, which also double up as MP3 players and cameras.

What ever comes next you will find normal, you don’t know a time before the Internet, mobile phones and digital cameras and when you hear us grown up’s telling stories about these times you’ll think we are old farts. And you’ll be right.

Written by Administrator

September 24th, 2005 at 9:58 pm

Posted in Technology