Becoming A Communications Junkie

The mobile phone, invented in 1973 by Martin Cooper while working for Motorola, took ten years and 100 million dollars to bring to market. It is now so popular that it has become a permanent fixture in almost everyone’s hand or pocket. Its versatility and multi-use application rivals that of the PC in many ways. It can be used as a phone, send and receive text, take still photos or videos, search the internet, and store information for later recall. Like the computer, each new model that appears on the market will have people rushing to stores to buy the new version. 

Thanks to a 1982 invention we can listen to music on CDs (compact discs) in our cars, portable boom boxes at the beach, or while stretched out on a couch at home. By 2007, 200 billion CDs had been sold around the world. By 2010 their sales dropped by half because of new technology, giving us some idea of how quickly the communications world changes. However, even a high-tech expert would have serious difficulty convincing me to abandon my stack of CDs.

We can watch movies on a digital video discs (DVDs), created in 1995. They became wildly popular after the cost of DVD players dropped. By 2011 more than one billion DVD players had been sold world-wide. But DVDs, to some extent, lost popularity when a new player appeared on the scene. NETFLIX, founded in 1997, is a streaming service available via TV that allows customers to watch a variety of TV shows, movies, and documentaries, commercial free. By 2018 it had 130 million subscribers in 190 countries.

The computer would be a shallow device without an invention that took experts from several countries many years and much trial and error to perfect. The internet came into general use between 1996 and 2001. By 2005 this immensely complicated invention was an integral part of computers.

The internet is now acknowledged to be the daddy of all communications inventions. Experts agree that, “The internet revolutionized the computer and communications world like nothing before it. The telegraph, telephone, radio, and computer set the stage for this unprecedented integration of capability. The internet is at once a world-wide broadcasting capability, a mechanism for information dissemination, and a medium for collaboration and interaction between individuals and their computers without regard to geographical location”.

I have no need for smoke signals or drumbeats. Technology is evolving so fast that I could dispense with my newspapers, CD and DVD players, and my landmine telephones and still not lose out. I am not in love with my mobile phone but I would sorely miss my new laptop, e-mail, and the internet. Oh yes, and the joy of holding a newspaper in my hands while sipping my morning coffee.

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Dr. James F. McDonald is a retired elementary school principal who lives in Dundas, ON.
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