Last weekend I traveled home to Arkansas to attend my great-grandmother's funeral. Normally I wouldn't write about such a thing, but my grandmother was such a happy person - always smiling - and I think that she would appreciate the fact that we're celebrating her life rather than mourning her death. She would've been 101 years old in May and the thing I will miss most about her is her stories.
You see, my grandmother had a very quick mind and I think if she'd been born in my generation or that of my son she would've been a great technologist. As a technologist myself I find some of the things that she would talk about to be amazing. For instance, she told the story of when she traveled to the state fair to see her first television. To watch it, you had to hold your face up to a binocular-like viewer and the tiny sceen inside was only 2 inches across but sure enough there was a moving picture in there. She also told the story of the first car to ever arrive in my home town. The town doctor bought it and had it shipped in via train and then hired my great-grandfather to "figure the thing out and then teach him to drive it". She also told the story of the marvel she experienced when later in life she saw the first airplane she'd ever seen flying overhead.
When she was my age most people didn't have telephones or automobiles and certainly no one had a television or had even pondered the idea of a computer. She told a great story of when they lived in Colorado and she was in her twenties and my grandfather (he was a hunter and trapper) caught a silver fox that he then traded for their first automobile that they in turn used to relocate to Arkansas.
As I sit here tonight thinking about her and these stories, I can't help but wonder what strories I'll tell my grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and even great-great-grandchildren (if I'm as lucky as she was) that they'll find hard to believe. Will they believe that our "telephones" were voice only and no video? Will they believe that there was a time when bandwidth to your home was measured in Mbps or that IP addresses were only 32 bits?
Even within the 20 year gap between my 15 year-old son and me there are some pretty amazing differences in terms of technical evolution. I can't wait to see what the next few years have in store.
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