“Mum…Grandpa’s started twittering again…”

“Mum…Grandpa’s started twittering  again…”

Although it seems hard to believe now it was only in the early 1980’s that home computing moved out of the realms of science fiction and into the homes of ordinary people.

In only a few short years scientists had managed to scale down computers from something that filled a whole room with valves and wires to a small square box that could sit on a desk. Even then computing was really only for the ‘geeks’ that could understand the complex languages needed to make computers do what you wanted them to do. Then a bespectacled schoolboy from Seattle changed the world by inventing a simple interface that almost anyone could use and computing changed forever. His name is Bill Gates and he founded Microsoft, one of the most successful businesses in the world that has totally dominated the world of home computing.

But it is not just home computing that has radically changed the world of communication and revolutionised our lives. In the later part of the same decade – the 1980’s – other visionaries were removing the wires from the back of telephones and using radio waves to transmit audio signals. The era of the mobile phone had also begun and suddenly you could talk to other people all over the world from a small gadget that fitted into your pocket. These two radical developments in technology have now totally changed the fabric of society and indeed changed the way we communicate and interact with the rest of the world.

The actual pace of change in both technologies has been staggering since the first fledgling prototypes were launched into the media only two decades ago. Computers have got increasingly smaller and yet more powerful with increased ‘processing power’ and almost unimaginable amounts of ‘memory’. They have turned into multimedia machines with thousands of ‘applications’ now available to do everything from home shopping to watching full length feature films and from fighting in ‘virtual wars’ to finding a job.

Similarly the humble phone, designed to bring two people together by voice, now includes satellite navigation, movie camera technology, calculators, electronic games, message ‘texting’ and even electronic banking – and a whole host more.
There are two elements of this electronic revolution though, that have probably overshadowed everything else and that is the phenomenal growth of e-mailing and the Internet. Interestingly both of these concepts actually took time to become established but once the implications and opportunities were better understood they literally exploded across the globe. The idea of e-mail had been around for a while but was viewed just as another medium to transmit messages. At first it was just used in the business environment until home computer users started to realise how it could be used to contact thousands of ‘strangers’ and communicate ideas.
The internet also began as a widely fragmented ‘islands’ of information that could be accessed individually until someone came up with idea of linking all this information together by creating a ‘search engine’ to help locate whatever you wanted to find. Like Microsoft, ‘Google’ had foreseen the future and then helped to create it.

Gradually the distinctions between the power of the personal computer and the mobile phone started to blur and by the dawn of the new millennium phones were essentially mini computers and home computers were also communication devices.

Today the rate of change shows no sign of stopping and the exponential growth of these amazing technologies is creating new social phenomena that even the most visionary commentators did not foresee. Instead of business leaders driving the new revolution it is teenagers that have seen the future and are pushing the boundaries. They have taken the idea of a ‘daily diary’ to new heights through ‘blogging’, created their own persona’s through the medium of ‘My Space’ and ‘Facebook’ and displayed their personality and talents through ‘You Tube’. And now even the older generation have discovered how to use Twitter and the revolution shows no sign of stopping.

Everyday new applications arrive on our desktop computers that are set to change the way we think about everything. We now use our computers for on-line banking, electronic shopping, watching films, e-mailing each other and communicating in a thousand different and innovative ways. In two decades technology has not only radically changed the way businesses are run it has actually changed the way we run our lives. As one media business commentator recently put it “these days if you are not on the net then your business doesn’t exist”.

And, come to think of it, whether we agree or not the same might be said of our private lives too.

About Rory Gear

I’m Rory Gear, also known by my writing pseudonym – Joe St Clair. I’m a full time professional writer and blog writer, I write pretty much about anything and everything that interests me. Connect with me on Google+

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