Friday, December 17, 2004

Reverence for gadgets

This morning while I was getting for work, I got to thinking about the gadgets that so many of us take for granted every day. I was thinking about ENIAC and how tremendously large that system was for how little it did (by today's standards). We now carry orders of magnitude more computing ability in our smartphones than this first computer packed into more than 30 tons of wiring and vacuum tubes. ENIAC’s designers would probably not believe the modern computing achievements.

I work for a firm that develops computing silicon. We pack millions of transistors into an area the size of a penny. How can you not sit back and feel bewildered about this ability? We're talking about stuff that's so small you can't see it with a normal microscope - isn't that amazing? The development that has taken place over the last 100 years has been absolutely amazing. Just think about what technology was like a century ago:
  • Experiencing state of the art communication meant you received a telegraph
  • Higher octane fuel for your transportation meant oats instead of hay
  • Engineering faster computing meant creating a slide rule that experienced less friction
  • Word processing meant arranging the movable type in the one press in town

So what’s the point? Stop and think about your gadgets and what they do for you and do something nice for them. Get crazy and clean all of those fingerprints off your PDA or splurge and buy a set of Duracells for your GPS. In all seriousness, we’ve got it pretty good…every once in a while it’s good to sit back and remember that when we’re complaining because we’re only getting download speeds of 150 KB/s.

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