If you’ve been living in the civilized world for any length of time, you should be well aware of the fact that our lives are made easier by some of the most advanced technology of our modern era.
Just in the last 40 years, human beings have made strides in technology that were unheard of for two-thirds of the 20th Century. If you think about it, the telephone basically stayed the same for decades until touch-tone technology was introduced. Now, the advancements in cellphone and smartphone technology move forward at a record pace, making today’s technology obsolete tomorrow.
But, we wouldn’t all be living lives of comfort today if some of our greatest technological advancements were never created. As each advancement builds upon an earlier breakthrough, here, we’ll explore some of the first breakthrough technologies that helped shape our lives and the world.
If you’ve never heard of Usenet, then you probably missed out on the ‘80s entirely. Regardless, we all know what the Internet is. In fact, you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t.
But, did you know that the Internet had a few predecessors? And though the earliest version was a private military communications system known as ARPANET, a more functional version came about shortly after.
In 1979, just 4 years before the Internet had its first official birthday, Usenet was developed by Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis, two Duke University grad students. The two used two Unix to Unix proxy servers to send files to a colleague of theirs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
After Usenet went online, it became a haven for academics and for the earliest computer enthusiasts. You might recognize these individuals as the pocket protector wearing nerds of yesterday, but it was this subculture that actually spawned the first chat rooms that existed before the Internet.
Usenet is still alive and well today, and much more user-friendly. It is recommended, however, that you access Usenet via a service provider offering a variety of Usenet plans.
You might be surprised to learn that the cellphone industry was literally going nowhere before the first iPhone launched in 2007. Prior to this year, cell phones were largely sold as flip phones, and no matter how many models were produced, the features never seemed to change all that much.
The iPhone 2G removed all physical hardware and featured a touchscreen interface, a revolutionary product that changed the entire dynamic of cell phone use and production across the globe.
The iPhone, however, wasn’t the first touch-based phone. That title is held by IBM Simon. Of course, Simon never really caught the attention of users in 1994. Besides, cell phones were highly expensive, and many even believed that cell phones caused cancer back in the early ‘90s.
Today, we can all send messages, access the cloud, make calls, navigate around major cities, surf the Internet, and store our favorite music all on one device, and this is all thanks to the iPhone 2G.
Can you remember the days where you actually had to talk to someone on the phone to communicate with them? Interestingly, most people don’t remember the time before texting became the preferred way to communicate.
The first text message ever sent happened in 1992. This was sent by a developer to the company director at Vodafone’s Christmas party, and it read simply: Merry Christmas.
Text messaging wasn’t a preferred method of communication until the mid-2000 era, as more cellphones were better able to use communication software. The invention of T-9 Word, the predecessor to the predictive text that we all love, made it easier to send messages.
Today, it’s estimated that 18.7 billion messages are sent each day via text message worldwide. That’s a whole lot of people typing and not talking. But, this is where we are now, in a text-based world, at the helm of a smartphone, all made possible by the pioneering advancements of our greatest tech developers.