Thursday, October 13, 2011

Not So Long Ago: The Walkman!

It's been raining the last few days so I've had to rely on the Berlin subway to get around town. Compared to other transit systems, the Berlin U/S-Bahn is relatively reliable and easy to navigate; however, the 2,30 ($3.00 USD) one-way ticket is steep by Americans standards.

My preferred mode of transportation is the bicycle. It's cheap, quick, and invigorating; yet, for all of its advantages, it does have a downside: it isolates you from the community. So my occasional subway excursions allow me the opportunity to observe German culture “up close and personal.”

These days, the first thing I noticed on the subway is people interacting with their Smart Phones. People are surfing the Net, listening to music, watching videos, texting messages, or just chatting on these small-tech wonders. Technology has come along way in my lifetime!

It seems like yesterday that the first Sony Walkman was introduced (1979). The Walkman was the dawn of portable music. For the first time, you could carry around your own music library. You were no longer dependent on the radio or confined to the house if you wanted to listen to music. Granted, you still had to carry around cassette tapes, but these were manageable, not like vinyl records. I can even remember Hi-Fi stereos, 8-Track tapes, and the introduction of color TV. In their day, all these devices were tech miracles. 

As technology advances even faster, I find harder to keep pace. As soon as I've achieved tech competence on one gismo, another gadget comes on the market. That's one reason I've been reluctant to get a Smart Phone. Do I really want to invest time and money on a device that will be out-of-date in a few years? Will the Smart Phone become the BetaMax of the 2010s? But now it seems inevitable that Smart Phones are here to stay. In all likelihood, they will become a necessity like the personal computer. Welcome to the 21st Century.

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