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How has technology changed over our lifetime?

In this article, Tom Chapman asks us to think about how technology has changed over our lifetime and to consider what we think the future will be like
© University of Southampton 2015
So what have been some of the technological developments during the life of Tom Chapman Aged 44 1/2?
As you might have noticed I am a great fan of gadgets and technology generally. To be honest I think this is possibly because of my age. Whilst teenagers are now growing up in an Internet age that is integrated and part of their daily lives, I see myself as being rather fortunate to have experienced the changes that have taken place in technology in recent years.

Late 1960s and early 1970s

In the late 1960s and early 1970s the UK saw a move from pounds shillings and pence to decimalisation and we saw the introduction of barcodes on products. Products also had ‘use by’ dates introduced; the thought of not being told when something isn’t suitable to eat is almost alien to some young people. We saw the introduction of electronic point of sale (EPOS) and computerised tills in shops.

Late 1970s and early 1980s

In the late 1970s and early 1980s we saw the introduction of the Sony Walkman and portable music, personal computing (ZX 81, ZX Spectrum & BBC Micro) and Channel 4. This may sound silly to mention Channel 4, however, within the United Kingdom up until this time we only had three channels on television. To those individuals that have grown up with cable television, satellite and the likes of sky and Virgin Media; to only have three television channels that did not operate 24 hours a day must appear rather bizarre.

Late 1980s and early 1990s

In the late 1980s and early 1990s we saw the birth of what we understand is the World Wide Web and the mobile phone, one small enough to carry at least, and a device that was actually a phone rather than a computer that people used throughout their daily lives and occasionally as a phone.
We saw the birth of Microsoft Windows and electronic funds transfer at point of sale (EFTPOS),e.g. credit cards.
In the UK retailers moved out of town into large shopping developments as well as into other channels such as NEXT and its mail order directory. I mention NEXT as a deliberate example of the similarities between catalogue shopping and businesses operating on the web. The synergies between these two channels and the ability to master one prior to the invention of the other has given NEXT sure footing in the market.

Late 1990s and early 2000s

In the late 1990s and early 2000s we have seen various debates about ‘clicks versus bricks’ or ‘online versus offline’, we have seen businesses strong in their market fail because they failed to take the opportunity that the web offered when others new to their market saw it as an opportunity.
We’ve seen an ‘age of search’ and then an ‘age of social’ but there was little to indicate that those that were good at search were the ones that automatically became the most successful in the social domain. Arguably we are now in an ‘age of mobile’ and I see no reason to believe that those who are particular strong in the social domain will necessarily dominate the mobile one.
Now considering what has happened in recent decades I personally feel it would be either exceptionally clever or rather foolish to try and predict changes we will face and the technologies that will evolve over a similar period of time in the future, but …
What do you think it will be like?
Will we walk around wearing Google glasses or some form of implanted contact lens? Will we want to even if we can?
© University of Southampton 2015
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