Friday, February 18, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History: Week 8 -- Technology

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History is an annual challenge for family historians to write about their own lives.  Amy Coffin is the author. 

Since I came to this idea well after the first of the year, I'll start with the current week.  Week 8 poses two questions to start the writing process:  What are some of the technological advances that happened during your childhood?  What types of technology do you enjoy using today, and which do you avoid?


My love affair with technology began with an old party-line telephone.  A party line was made up of the telephones in many homes that were all served by that single line.  Everyone could connect to that line simply by picking up the telephone. 

Living in a rural area of Pennsylvania, my family stayed in touch with the world through that party line phone.  Privacy wasn't its strong suit because each time you picked up the phone you might find yourself
 interrupting to a neighbor's conversation or being interrupted by them.  That may have been the start of my drive to "find things out"   -- which was corraled into a penchant for doing research.

The next stage of technology for me was the dusty green Smith-Corona manual typewriter that my parents gave me.  Familiarity with that typewriter helped me throughout high school and college, and then on to one of my earliest jobs in Washington, D.C., as a secretary for an international trade association. 

Then came the electric typewriter.  Wow!  We thought we'd walked into heaven.  But the process was pretty much the same as the manual, just faster.

Imagine my delight then to discover a magnetic card machine!  A part-time job lead me to a nonprofit organization that sent out hundreds of form letters to hundreds of individuals.  But once I mastered that "mag card" machine, that onslaught on letters was no match for me!

Once the word processor became king of the business world, technology sprinted through many versions until networked computers were the technology most used by those of us in the business world. 

And I have to say, sadly, that I can't even remember my first home computer.  But with an aerospace engineer as my husband, it didn't take long for our home to sprout all the bells and whistles of the most current technology.

Today, we have multiple computers and peripherals (printers, scanners, sound system components, fax machines, copiers, external storage units, etc.)  There isn't an area of our lives that techological innovations haven't touched --  smart phones, satellite television, automated kitchen appliances, computerized sewing machines, a car and a truck with onboard computer systems (the truck even has its own phone!), and all those other devices that we wonder how we ever did without.

What technology do I avoid?  None that I can think of (... well ... unless those speed violation cameras count).  There's just so much of it now that I can't become fluent in all of it.  Today, it's more a matter of choosing which technology would best suit my needs at the moment.

The truth be told?  I love technology!

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