Archive for January, 2009

I confess. I’m not a member of the “tech” generation nor do I claim to be. In a short span of time (the last 30 years) my world has changed dramatically. It’s hard to keep pace with emerging technology when your brain doesn’t work quite as well as it used to and everything you were taught in school is obsolete.

When I was a kid…

…I walked 5 miles in the snow to get to school. Not really. But…

I learned to type on an IBM selectric typewriter. They actually called the class “Typing” and not “Keyboarding” as they do today. In math class, we learned to add in our heads when we memorized the math tables. Calculators were for the scientists and not the student. In Chemistry we were taught to use a slide rule (which I never quite mastered) to find square roots and other scientific solutions. In Bookkeeping we used an actual paper journal with columns for debits and credits and an adding machine to calculate the totals. Teachers used overhead projectors with slides and grease pencils. They would write on the slides and project it onto a screen in the classroom for everyone to see.

We wrote checks to pay for things at the supermarket and kept a paper checkbook in which we entered the checks we had written. This kept us from being overdrawn. If we needed cash we went to the bank and wrote a check to “cash” to receive the funds.

If we wanted to see a movie, we went to the movie theater or the drive in. The only movies we watched at home were the ones filmed by our parents on their Super 8 movie cameras. We could view prepackaged slide shows with a little gadget that you loaded the circular slides into and clicked a lever to advance to the next one.

We listened to music on transistor radios and played our LPs and 45s on home stereos with headphones larger than our heads themselves. We had reel to reel tapes and amplifiers that improved the listening quality and experience.

If you wanted to travel, you contacted a travel agent who would book your flight through the airlines and hand you a carbon copy ticket with all of your flight information. You checked in at the airport the day of your flight and the ticket agent tore off the ticket and left you with the carbon for a boarding pass.

Writers wrote novels using typewriters and paper. If they made a mistake they used correction fluid, correction tape, or removed the paper and started over, tossing the first draft into the trash.

Every household had a telephone. Pay phones abounded. If you wanted to call someone while you were out you put a nickel in the pay phone and dialed the number. When you left home, no one could reach you unless you called to check in. If you got lost, you took out the trusty road atlas, found your street on the index and followed the map to get you to your destination.

Typesetters set the type for publications and for advertising materials. Their machines took up an entire room and the number of typestyles they had was based on the size of their business and the ability to purchase type (font) families. Small publications would justify the type by counting and adding spaces in each line of type, thus making the lines end at the same point. Press on and rub on lettering and design were necessary tools for any publication. Printing presses used ink and images on metal plates that were burned on by a platemaker.

The graphic artist used pens, pencils and charcoal to create art and the photographer took pictures on 35mm film for future developing. Proofs came with negatives and slides were used to view the pictures through a slide projector on a large screen. Presentations were made with flip charts and artist’s renderings, along with the verbal description of the person presenting.

And believe it or not, this was a mere 30 years ago.

When I started my desktop publishing business 15 years ago I purchased a personal computer, color scanner and laser printer. The total cost for all three was $5000. My scanner alone cost $1500 and my laser printer was $1200. I had 500MB of hard drive memory and a 5 ½ inch floppy disk drive to save and archive files. The internet was completely foreign to me and electronic email was just emerging as a business communication tool.

Today, our world has advanced beyond even my parent’s wildest expectations: personal computers, ATM machines, design and presentation software, scientific calculators, Blu-ray discs, Ipods, cellphones, PDA’s, the internet, home theaters, GPS devices and WiFi. In the last 30 years we have traveled light years in our technology.

And this baby boomer has managed, on most levels, to keep up with it all. The latest craze, social marketing, has tested my mind with a vengeance. And while I’m learning to adapt to Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and the world of bloggers, it can at times be a bit daunting. I long for the days of phone conversations, personal one on one meetings, and handwritten letters. Call me old fashioned; or better yet, call me a baby boomer!


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