Technology Is Young

5/26/2004 5:44:33 AM

Technology Is Young

Some time ago, I saw the World of Tomorrow exhibit in DisneyWorld, which had a major impression in me. It depicted the life style of the average American family at five different times separated by 20 years: 1900, 1920, 1940, 1980, as well as an attempt on depicting some date in the near future (approx 2010).

What was astonishing was the huge number of changes that occured over each period! I soon came to the realization that virtually all electrical appliances and most other items that we use today became mainstream within the last 50 years (even the dual freezer/refrigator was first sold by GE in 1953), and, 50 years from now, we may not be using any of today's devices.

The same applies not just to technology, but to other fields such as medicine and business. In medicine, there's a well-known saying that virtually any medical knowledge a doctor had ten years ago is now considered wrong. Business managers didn't even know the concept of the time value of money (NPV) back in the 60's.

Well, I shouldn't have been that surprised. Most Americans were farmers in 1900. Lifestyles were much different; can you believe that Americans showered on a weekly, not daily, basis in 1900? Also, a lot of technologies--especially in electronics and computers--became mainstream since 1980 and, to determine the amount of change that occurred since 1900, I should simply, using an exponential model for technological change, raise the amount of change since 1980 to the fifth power.

Even when living through a change, you may not realize that how recently it occurred. For example, I was surprised when a Taco Bell manager remarked that the concept of combo meals didn't exist in the fast food industry until McDonald's introduced value meals in around 1993, which is just a decade ago.

I leave with this last fact to ponder. McDonald's Corporation celebrates its 50th birthday next year.

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Net Undocumented is a blog about the internals of .NET including Xamarin implementations. Other topics include managed and web languages (C#, C++, Javascript), computer science theory, software engineering and software entrepreneurship.

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