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mcgrew's Journal: What a wonderous thing I have in my pocket! 2

Journal by mcgrew

To someone who is now five years old, it holds no wonder. What's the big deal?

When I was five, such a thing had never been envisioned by anyone.

When I was five, a telephone was a large, heavy, clumsy thing that hung on a wall or sat on a table, tethered to a wall. A phone in one's pocket was a fantasy even ten years later when The Man From Uncle had one like a pen. There was no such thing as the internet; indeed, only multimillion dollar organizations had computers at all, and they weren't networked.

When I was five, a camera, even a small one, was a bulky thing that usually sat in a closet or drawer until a vacation or a birthday party or some other special occasion came along. You would go to the drugstore, buy a few rolls of film, photograph what you wanted, send the film to be developed and photos would come back a week later.

This marvelous device will take a decent picture without film, instantly viewable in color, and can instantly sent to anyone in the entire world.

What's more, when I was five, nobody had sound recorders. Well, almost nobody -- Roger's dad worked at a radio station, and Roger had an old wire recorder that his dad had brought home from work. We were all amazed by it and had all sorts of fun with Roger's fart recorder. Even ten years later, my tape recorder was the size of a cigar box. A good one was the size of a small suitcase.

A movie was something you saw at a theater or on TV, or one a rich family had made of themselves with an eight millimeter film camera; very poor quality picture and no sound, unless you count he sound of the shutter clacking sixteen times a second. The camera and the projector were fairly large and clunky.

This device will make movies, with sound, in 720p (better than TV back when I was five). And send them instantly anywhere in the world.

It contains a library with more books than any one person could read in a lifetime. Read Tale of Two Cities? Just pull this marvelous device from my pocket, there are more books on it than a large metropolitan library (even if they aren't exactly "on" it).

It has the largest encyclopedia ever made. One can look up almost any fact one wishes. Want to read a newspaper? When I was five, someone threw a paper on the porch in the morning, which would be read and discarded. Now, just pull the device from your pocket, and almost every newspaper published is there.

Want to listen to the radio? When I was five there were radios that would fit (albeit not very comfortably) in a shirt pocket. They were full of static and would only pick up stations close by. This device will let me listen to almost any radio station on the planet.

Works of visual art by the great masters, all instantly available.

To a five year old, it's nothing special. These things were always around.

But the five year old is ignorant. The device in my pocket is indeed a wondrous thing. The wondrous things today's five year olds will see are beyond our imagination today, just as the phone in my pocket was something beyond imagination when I was five.

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What a wonderous thing I have in my pocket!

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  • by kermidge (2221646) on Saturday October 05, 2013 @04:39PM (#45046769) Journal

    Yup, that's almost perzackly the way it was for me too, even down to the wire recorder two if my older cousins had, circa '58. About ten years later my father gave me a Sony reel-to-reel with hinged, pull-off speakers and a carrying handle when I was at college.

    All that old, now clunky tech, so nifty at the time. The shirt-pocket transistor radio, a TV with whopping 19" screen, and it wasn't even 1960 yet.

    I await being surprised, should I live so long, but after decades of reading science fiction and fact, it's gonna take some doing. But lack of surprise won't stop the marvel of it for me, even if my comment is "took long enough."

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      I await being surprised, should I live so long, but after decades of reading science fiction and fact, it's gonna take some doing.

      Indeed, Murray Leinster nailed the internet in 1946 in a short story titled A Logic Named Joe [baen.com] (full text at the link). Of course, he got the names wrong since the tech hadn't been invented; PCs were "logics", servers were "tanks" and his internet was censored.

      But I was incredibly surprised in 2006. When Star Trek II came out in 1982, McCoy had no cure for age-related farsightedne

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