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Technology › Articles

The gadgets and machines of the past 150 years

From homes to farms to mines - to the moon. These are the everyday gadgets, utensils, and machines that we've used in daily life plus their inventors and the people who used them.

I know of at least one Boomer (me) who still has trouble remembering that you don't have to go to the library or find an encyclopedia to get answers to your questions. We no longer need to go down to the river, or turn a crank, to wash our clothes. We don't have to hang our laundry on the line to dry it. We don't have to walk 2 miles to school, carry groceries home, or spend days to travel to see relatives. We don't have to peer at a small, blurry, black and white television screen, listen to the radio and imagine our favorite characters, or churn butter. We don't need CDs or records to listen to a music; memorize a phone number; peer at the small print in a phone book; do arithmetic in our heads; look at clock hands; keep boxes of photos; figure out the VCR; cut articles out of the newspaper; use a phone booth; write a letter; or keep our old checks. Even in the past 2 decades life has changed for most of us - due to technology.

In the past 50 years, these are just some of the technologies that have changed our lives:

  • TV remote controls - leading to remotes for almost everything.
  • Jet airliners - making travel faster, cheaper, and (sometimes) more comfortable.
  • Microwave ovens - making heating and cooking easier and faster.
  • Cordless tools - no longer tethered to an outlet!
  • Communications satellites - allowing the world to connect.
  • The calculator - well, you know!
  • The LED - used in almost everything.
  • The ATM - just get your bank business done and you're out.
  • The computer and the mouse - and email and computer games!
  • The internet - how you can read this.
  • Cordless phones . . . and then the cellphone!
  • GPS

There have always been people who fear new technology and those who embrace it. When electricity was first introduced, people were scared of being electrocuted in their own homes! And yet, we adapt and thrive. These are the photos of how we used to do things and of new technologies (at the time) that changed our lives. Such changes in such a short span of human history!