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Is Technology Always Advancing?

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  • Folks,

    Technology: Always Advancing?

    I believe most of us think of technology as always advancing. A quick look at the evolution of mobile phones or laptops would quickly strengthen this argument. Looking at a photo of these devices circa 1985 will always cause a chuckle. In addition to their performance and appearance improvements, those of us in electronics assembly are also aware of the significant improvements in component packaging, PWB design, and soldering materials and processes.

    But I argue, with a little “tongue in cheek”, that there has been some technology retrograding going on too. The photos below show one case in point. The black Casio calculator watch can be purchased today at Wal-Mart. It has been unchanged for more than 15 years. It is a simple add, subtract, multiple, and divide watch. It also has an alarm function. The silver Casio watch is much more sophisticated. If you look carefully, many extra buttons can be observed. It is essentially a “full scientific.” It can do trigonometric functions, exponents, etc. So one might think it is from the year 2011. Wrong! It was purchased in the early 1980s. They now sell used for >$300 on Ebay. Sadly, mine needs repair. So if you like scientific calculator watches, you live in the wrong era.

    Another example is the smart phone. Originally, it appeared to be a combination of a Palm Pilot and a mobile phone. It was great for me. It kept my calendar, and contacts, and it could be used for taking notes and maybe even had a spreadsheet type of function. 

    I purchased a Droid X  last October. I love it. With all of the widgets it can do many things. The core functions of calendar and keeping contacts are there. But for note taking and spreadsheet functions one has to search for widgets that clearly are not main stream. Essentially the smartphone has morphed from a productivity tool to an entertainment device. Not that this is necessarily bad, but a major change.

    The other interesting fact of modern smartphone ownership is that the norm for storing data is in the “cloud” . When I asked the salesperson how to store all of my mobile phone data on my PC, he looked at me with an expression that seemed to say, “Why would someone want to do that?” I had to find out how to store my data on my computer myself. It involves adding an extra software widget on my phone…….for $40!

    Oh well, time to go for a power walk. I think I’ll use Ride Tracker on my Droid, while I listen to music too.


    Dr. Ron