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Back to the Future (of Technology)

technology through the years

December 1, 2017

As I research the latest trends in order to keep our technology programs up to date, I also come across many references to technologies and devices of the past. While many of these articles are interesting, most of them don’t apply to what’s relevant today. Take this piece about technology fads of the ’90s, for example.

Remember the Talkboy made popular by Home Alone? What about the Hit Clips or Tamagotchi keychains that allowed you to listen to music or take care of a virtual pet? Or perhaps you remember Palm Pilots or Electronic Diaries. All of these things are forgotten relics of the past. They are technology trends that came and went over 20 years ago. Or, at least, that’s what I initially thought.

When Apple recently released the iPhone X, I marveled over the incredible technology of Face ID. But after I thought about it some more, I wondered if this technology too would simply become a footnote in the grand scheme of tech history. Then, as I thought about those other fads from the past, something occurred to me—it’s not that time has forgotten these things; it’s simply that one device has come to replace them in our pockets: our smartphones.

With the right apps, devices like the iPhone X can serve as our virtual pets, our radios, our personal assistants, and our digital diaries. And now, this latest device can even be unlocked using a 30,000 dot digital map of your face.

As technology continues to evolve, I’m sure more and more things we consider fads today will simply be rolled into tomorrow’s technology without a second thought as to where they came from. In fact, it’s already happening. And who knows—20 years from now, someone may even come across this article as they are researching something new, only to find out the answer has been here all along. 

Eric P.
Consumer Technology Specialist

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