Friday, February 28, 2014

Grateful: Witness to the March of Technology

It still amazes me now far technology has advanced from where it has been since I was sentient. I was born to a family that had very modest means in suburban Manila. In the middle of the 60's, all I remember were newspapers, magazines, radio and the phonograph for outside news and entertainment. But because both my parents were musically inclined, and Lola had a piano, we could manage to entertain ourselves simply by singing along to my sisters as they played the piano. During special occasions, we would watch movies. And that was always a major treat for us. We would even dress up!

Communicating was done through the telephone, with its rotary dial and the party line (the shared line). Luckily, she was our spinster neighbor who rarely used the phone. I would get into monumental bitch fights with our eldest sister when it came to using that phone.

Soon came the television set. It was a wonder for us, seeing all that moving pictures in the little black and white screen in an elegant wooden cabinet. The first set was our Lolo's, so watching any show was a community event. Excitement over the TV got me my first major surgery at the age of 6. I tripped running up the stairs with my lunch on hand. I hit my right eyebrow on the edge of the steps. I was rushed to the hospital, and stitched by my own father (he was a resident surgeon then) without anesthesia. Yes. Without anesthesia. Thankfully, I have no recollection of the pain.

The tape cassette recorder and player came and allowed us to capture music we liked. That was the birth of the playlist, though we didn't call it playlist then. It was just a 'tape' or 'mix'. That was such a blessing. We didn't have to buy LP's (long-playing vinyl records) anymore to have a copy of songs we loved.

When we were in high school, Sony came up with the Walkman. Suddenly, you could bring your music with you. Revolutionary!!! And the coolest classmates were the first ones to have that 'it' gadget! I got mine in 4th year. It was a first gen type, when 2nd gen was already available. But I loved it. I learned to experience STEREO for the first time - High Fidelity! I finally understood what depth in audio meant.

The CD player came next. The family's first one was a personal type, a Discman. My first investment in a CD was Madonna's Like A Prayer album. It was amazing! The sound seemed so crisp compared to an audio tape. I called it an investment because CD's were just too expensive for impoverished college kids like me.

To communicate faster, 'the upwardly mobile younger generation' relied on pagers! Either Pocketbell or Easycall. From big sets, the pagers became smaller and smaller. The process remained the same. You dial a call center and leave a "Message for ID number..." But you'd still need to have access to a landline to be able to return calls. And that meant using those red public phones (that never work) or the neighborhood sari-sari store for a quick call. Just imagine how 'revolutionary' it was when the first cellular phones started arriving in the Philippines. Finally a portable phone! No matter if it was as huge as a flat iron. It was personal and portable. We started dumping pagers for the chance to have a cellular phone. My first was huge Motorola. Getting signal was quite a problem. (Nothing really changes?) But I didn't have to wait in some sari-sari store for my turn.

Then the Internet! You could get a dial-up service through existing phone lines. Subscription included an email address. Communication became instantaneous. And if you had the patience, you could start tinkering with the browser and read oodles and oodles of information on anything and everything, including PORN!!

Reaching out to others became easier with ICQ, crude chat services. I used to visit chatrooms like Gay Manila. Though these chatrooms were full of possible hook-ups, you also got to meet friends whose shared interest went beyond having sex. There were eyeballs and grand eyeballs. My bf then and I loved attending them for a chance to see in person that seemingly hot number in the chatroom. No pictures on profiles yet. Just ASL's. LOL

Internet speeds accelerated. Websites became portals which included billboards and chatrooms. Photos became easier to share. Then soon, even videos.

Meanwhile, phones reduced in size and SMS became a feature. Previously, you could only text within telco subscribers. Then the barriers went down. I still remember the first messages I sent from my Globe line to a Smart line of a potential date. Groundbreaking!

On the music scene, portable mp3 players made their debut. But they didn't catch my attention. The iPod did. But I had to wait for the 3rd Gen just to make sure it wouldn't just be a fad. And the 'playlist' was coined and born.

Digital cameras and videocams were also increasing in specifications and becoming cheaper. Soon after, cameras appeared in mobile phones, too.

I'll stop at this point. It gets both complicated yet more exciting and convenient. But beyond praising the current capabilities of the iPhone, iPad, etc., I am grateful for having seen this 'march of technology'. I have known how it is to be simple and unwired and unplugged. Yet I have also felt the ultimate convenience that current technology offers. I was born at the right time to have witnessed all this.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

1 comment:

FiftyShadesOfQueer said...

Although I haven't witnessed it all and I do appreciate what technology has to offer (especially since I belong in the Information Technology field), I still miss being "unplugged".