Changing Times

I will be turning the big 4-0 later this year. Saying that publicly gives me an inexplicable chill up my spine, but at the same time it also gives me an opposite, yet equal sense of pride to say that I grew up in the 80s. Growing up in the 80s allowed me to experience some incredible advances in technology.

For folks older than me, they will understand what I am saying — and more — because they too lived through this stuff. For the younger generation, I’m sure you’ve heard of these war stories before, and I didn’t write this to make you roll your eyes, but simply to reflect back at how things used to be just a generation ago. I’ll admit that the 80s was a pretty long time ago, but as a regular guy who vividly recalls that era, it’s been a pretty cool ride to see and experience the advances in technology as they have unfolded over time.

When I was in school, I remember thinking how old people were if they were in their late 30s — and if you were 40, you were over the hill and might as well have been 50 or 60. Well now that I’m almost 40, my eyesight and hearing are not as sharp as they once were, and my body is starting to randomly hurt for no reason, I assure you that my mind and spirit feels just as young as it did when I was 16!

Growing up in the 80s meant you had to wait for the 5 o’clock news to see the headlines or the weatherman’s predictions. It was a time when you waited for the newspaper to read the classifieds. You actually had to use the phone book as it was intended. If you needed detailed directions, you bought a map at a convenience store.

Photo-sharing back then meant ordering duplicate prints when getting your film developed, and the week it took to do so was filled with anxiety over whether your shots came out, and hoping no one had his eyes closed. It was a time when pre-registration meant someone mailed you a form that you filled out by hand and then mailed back along with a handwritten check. Another fun fact was that in 1980, the Sony Walkman was one of the hottest items on the market. Not long after that, the first home gaming systems started to hit mainstream America.

When I think back to those days, it just felt normal. To my parents who grew up on a farm and were in their 40s, they were blown away by my Walkman, Atari 2600 and the family cordless telephone. I thought they were nuts and just not with the times.

To the younger generation, maybe today feels normal to you, but I’m constantly blown away by what most smart phones are capable of today. Instant news and weather, games, GPS based maps, directions to the track, music player, HD pictures, incredible video and sound, Facetime, voice recognition software, Race Monitor, online PDF NASA results ( and so much more. You can even collect video and race data with a phone now, too!

It’s not just me noticing this phenomenon either. I recently saw an Internet blog that highlighted the fact that a modern cell phone made 100 percent of the items on the front page of a huge Radio Shack newspaper ad from 1991 nearly obsolete. Fittingly enough, Wall Street watchers tell us Radio Shack is nearly obsolete, too.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. You can even use your phone to call someone, but hardly any of you young whipper-snappers do that because that’s old school.

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