Back To The Future

Published On October 5, 2009 | By mbalogh | Blog, Uncategorized

So there I was writing iPhone code when deja vu hit me.  Relatively slow processor, manually managing memory to decrease the overall footprint, relatively small harddrive, concern for data throughput.  I’ve been here before.  Hey, it’s the mid-90’s again and I’m sitting at my old Dell trying to write applications in C, only this time I have access to a lot of really cool technology.  So what would you have done in the mid-90’s to change the world that you can actually do today?

Over this last year I’ve been developing applications for the iPhone and it’s spurred an interesting thought.  Mobile technologies are the future but, when you really look at them, they’re also the past.  How many times have you heard someone say, "the computing power in this little device is equivalent to a full on desktop of over a decade ago"?  That’s because they are.  New technology shares a lot of the same features of old technology.  The computing power of an iPhone has been compared to a Pentium II 266mhz desktop computer.  This puts it’s technology capacity at about 1997 with a few obvious differences.  So what were all the things you wished for in 1997 and can now get?

Mobility?  Check.  Networkability?  3 ways.  We’ve got bluetooth, wi-fi, and G3.  Check.  Easily programmable graphical interface?  Xcode and Interface Builder fit the bill, so check again.  Touch screen?  Always wanted one, so double-check.  Other crazy features?  How about GPS, accelerometers, solid state 32gb harddrive, speakers, and a microphone?  All this in one device that fits in my pocket.

When did all this happen?  Obviously we didn’t wake up one morning and there it was.  That would have been quite jarring and we’d probably be making a bigger deal about it then we are.  No, this happened over time.  Baby steps.  A feature here, a tweak there.  And today all this is yours for just a few hundred dollars.  Think about the power an iPhone would have had in 1997.  Think of the cost.  Then you would have used it to change the world.  Today, we’re jaded.  Technology jaded.  Do I want the iPhone, the Palm Pre, or should I hold out for a google android phone?  Or maybe I want something that does what a phone should do … it just makes phone calls.

Yesteryear we would have taken on the world and won, but today we turn up our nose.  Technology is amazing and there are a lot of amazing things we can do with it but take for granted.  It doesn’t have to be 1997 to change the world.  Unjade yourself, remove the cloud from your mind, and see the possibilities your 1997 self would see.  Now act.

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2 Responses to Back To The Future

  1. Joseph Balogh says:

    “Jaded” is a good word. You’re absolutely correct that we now have the most amazing technology! This is the stuff of science fiction. We can do things today that people would never have believed possible, even a few short years ago. Unfortunately, we seem to have lost our sense of wonder along the way. And, along with it, we lost the belief that we can change the world for the better. The solution to huge global problems such as hunger, clean water, green energy, childhood disease among other are within our grasp. Yet, in spite of it all, these problems persist. If only we would realize how far we have come and believe in the possibilities!

    • mbalogh says:

      I agree. Solving problems is always talked about as a future thing that we plan for, rarely a now thing that we can do. While I think there are those individuals who do a lot, I believe the majority of us can do a lot more, whether it be solving hunger problems or innovating new solutions to old problems.

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