We’re in a time of upheaval, a time of uncertainty and looking forward, we’re thinking, “when will this be over and what’s next?” But consider this: we are lucky. Because of brilliant thinkers, innovative risk-takers and creative ingenuity and a lot of R &D, we enjoy comforts and conveniences that were pipe dreams 36 years ago. Like most of my friends, we were fresh out of high school and eager to get on with our lives but did we have any idea of where technology would take us besides what we watched on the Jetsons growing up?
Think about this. If this were 1984 and we had this pandemic, what would you be doing while in quarantine? Why did I choose 1984? I don’t know… maybe because I was a year out of high school, well into college and, hey Orwell picked that year, too!
In 1984, we had no worldwide use of internet (only introduced in 1983), social media was a telephone party line (Hello?? Hello?? Are you there??). And Zoom? That’s what we did on skateboards. FaceTime was with and in front of people at the dinner table or in the living room playing a game.
We didn’t have mobile devices, and very few homes had that $2,500 coveted Apple Macintosh personal computer. Data storage was metal filing cabinets and cardboard boxes of folders and papers. The cloud was… well literally… a sometimes-cumulous collection of white fluff and water in the sky.
Amazon? What’s that? Grubhub, Postmates, DoorDash, EAT 24… nope. Access to immediate, updated healthcare data? Hmmm, not so fast. Could you work remotely? Doubtful in most cases. Would your kids be hunkered down with their Xbox or PS4? Yeah, no… Atari’s Pong was all we got. And even they crashed and sold out to Commodore. No Nintendo until 1985 – if you could afford it.
Price Club was the only big box store- with very few stores and memberships were only given to business owners. Sam’s Club had just its flagship store in Oklahoma in 1983. Walmart was open but not in every metropolitan city like it is today. We had Gemco, Fedco and others like KMart (giant bags of popcorn anyone?)
VPN, VR, AI? Be real… staying out past curfew was mostly our virtual reality. VPNs -see internet above – not chance! AI? Not so mainstream even though Marvin Minsky first championed AI when he co-founded the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AI laboratory in 1959.
Are you now hunkered down and binge-watching your favorite HBO, Showtime, Hulu, Prime and Netflix series? Try being limited to watching just network TV, unless you boldly ventured into subscription channels Z-TV or On-TV, which though, innovative for their time, weren’t all that successful and only available in large markets.
And what about water? Artesian, fluoridated, mineral, purified, sparkling, sterile and flavored – oh my! Those cases of 24, 16oz bottles of water we all have stacked up in the garage are convenient to have and make us feel a lot better when compared with being relegated to just tap water, don’t they? In 1984, the bottled water game belonged to Evian and France controlled 85% of the world’s bottled water industry. FYI, Check the bottom of your bottled water. If you can see a note that says, “From a municipal water source.” or, “Sourced from a community water system.” then your bottled water originated from the tap anyway.
What will 36 more years bring us in technology, innovation and conveniences? How will our children and grandchildren cope with worldwide crises? I may or may not be around to see it, but I sure can appreciate it from this distance now.
Be well, be thankful, stay in touch with loved ones and friends. Reach out when you need help. Offer help when you can and we’ll get to the other side of this.