I’ll be 54 this year, and I was thinking the other day how technology has changed during my lifetime. Looking back made me chuckle so I thought I’d take some of us back down memory lane, and for any younger readers, this will probably horrify them!
Let’s start with the internet! In 1991 (aged 23) I was working for Equity & Law as the office manager. The computer team arrived at the branch one day and installed a new terminal (as we called computers then 😂). After hours of messing around, they dialed up and, with great excitement, showed us a screen and said … this is the internet!! I can remember it like it was yesterday! What does it do, I asked. Well, they said, you can ask it anything at all! Go on, type a question in. And do you know what, I couldn’t think of a single thing I wanted to ask! Can you imagine not having Google now! If we had a question we’d ask our parents, and they would tell us to look it up in a book if they didn’t know! I used to go to the library every Saturday morning to get both books for enjoyment and reference books to help with homework. Then came a revolutionary day – Mum and Dad bought a really good set of encyclopedias- life changing!
If you wanted to make a phone call you walked to a phone box … but we rarely did that as we didn’t know anyone else with a phone 😂. I think I was about 10 years old when we got a house phone. My sister was terrible, she would say goodbye to her friends on the bus and then phone them when she got indoors! Mum went mad when the bill came in so she bought a lock for the phone … and then gave us a key for emergencies 😂
TV – we had a black and white TV with 3 channels – BBC1, BBC2 and ITV. I remember arguing with my sister who was going to get up to change the channel and fiddle with the aerial when the picture went wonky! When Channel 4 was launched we weren’t allowed to watch it because it used to have vulgar programs (trendy programs aimed at teenagers in truth!). And the TV didn’t have programs on 24 hours a day! Mum and Dad always had a little bet on the horses on a Saturday, and one week my Dad hit the jackpot, winning about £80 (a months wages!) … he went straight to the betting shop to pick up his winnings, and went into Radio Rentals next door and rented a colour TV (nobody bought TV’s in those days!) – and they delivered it the same day. He also arrived back with a huge bag of sweets too!
Household appliances – my Mum washed all our clothes by hand up until I was about 11 or 12, when she got her first washing machine. She worked full time and so would spend all of Friday evening and Saturday morning doing all the washing. She had a spin dryer, although it used to dance across the kitchen floor when it got going! You wanted toast – you used the grill on the cooker. No coffee machines, bread making machines, microwave ovens, food processors etc.
And of course no Facebook, no instagram, no TikTok YouTube etc etc – it would be hard for teenagers now to imagine a life without technology!
Games – it scares me when I see our grandchildren absolutely fixated with their games consoles etc – they really do look like zombies sometimes. As kids we played cards, backgammon, draughts and board games on wet days, and played outside when the weather was nice.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not against technology – far from it. Taking on this life would’ve been a whole lot harder without it. Just the solar technology alone makes such a difference to our life here. Being able to use YouTube and Google to instantly access experts for information and guidance from all over the world is a godsend.
But there is a downside … maybe we’ve become a bit too reliant on it these days – I think even we need to step away from our phones a bit more! I’m not sure there’s many people who wouldn’t admit the same! I do find now that I’m losing touch with tech a bit – starting to feel my age as I look totally confused trying to back up my photos off my phone without deleting half of them!
If I look at how technology has changed just in my lifetime, and the pace at which it evolves now, it does make me wonder where we’ll be in 5, 10, 30 years … will life be better ir worse for it? I just don’t know!