14 to 40: Then and Now – Part 2

In my previous post, I noted a number of things as they were in 1979 when Julianne got married.  It is absolutely amazing how things have changed in these 40 years and how these have had a profound impact on our lives.  I know that many of you reading these posts have likely had similar experiences.  But, as I try to do this countdown, and as I look back and compare to today, it behooves me to note these impacts.

Obviously, the biggest changes are all technology based.  In 1979, we had no internet, let alone, most people didn’t have computers unless they could afford the Atari 400.  By the time I began college at Northern Arizona University in the fall of 1980, there were large mainframes in use at the school.  The mass use of computers, even mainframes, was still fledgling.  By the time I got to my Master’s Program at Arizona State University, the advent of the “Personal Computer” was just beginning.  However, it was not until we returned back from Japan in 1991 that the internet was kicking into gear. A company named Quantum Computer Services, run by Steve Case, had created a bulletin board for owners of the Commodore 64 computers.  In 1991, Quantum was renamed America Online.  By 1993, AOL introduced its own email addresses, a Windows version and provided access to the rest of the brand new internet.  Being the tech geek, even back then, I jumped on board of AOL as soon as I was able. My first ever email address was sumoman@aol.com

AOL Floppy – 50 hours for free

By 1992, we had moved to Kentucky and I was working for Japanese companies as an interpreter.  Then, in late 1993 I was hired to manage a Japanese-owned Horse Farm.  The farm got a computer for managing records.  By this time I had become proficient in the early Microsoft Office products, which were available for Windows in 1990.  In April 1994, Netscape was founded and the first Search Engine/Browser came to being.  (Technically, the first one was called WorldWideWeb and was developed in 1990 for the NeXT Computer).  Anyway, that revolutionized the world and impacted our lives at a personal level.  We could then communicate with family via email, learn new things about the world and find new ways to use our time. I began using Netscape and AltaVista browsers long before Google.

AltaVista Search Engine ca. 1999

It was not until 2004 that Firefox was developed and then, in 2008 Google Chrome came out. (Google was founded in 1998, though the domain name Google.com was registered in September 1997).  Google impacts millions of lives every minute of the day in 2019!

Communications technology made advances as well.  Though pagers had been around for a number of years, the wide use of them didn’t really hit until the late 1980s.  One of my first jobs while in college at Arizona State was in a pager “call center.”  Customers would call in to the center and we would send out the messages to pagers.  At that time it seemed like a real communications break-through, though pager owners were all fairly well to do…mainly doctors, lawyers and company leaders.

A typical pager from the early 1990s

Along with pagers, the emergence of mobile phones as a consumer product started hitting in the early 1990s. I distinctly remember using a Motorola 3200 for the first time when I was working for a Real Estate Auction company in Phoenix.  The owner lent me his.  This was in 1992.  Back then it was a very expensive toy…but so cool to talk while driving a car.  Understandably, like Google, the cell phone revolutionized the world.  As for the direct impact on our family…. I believe our very first cell phone was purchased in 1997 or 1998.  It was a Motorola Flip Phone.  Reminded me of Star Trek!   That really helped in communicating with my wife at home.

The first mobile phone I ever used was a Motorola International 3200

The firs cell phone we ever owned was a Motorola Flip Phone

We had our own home computer to connect to AOL and the internet in 1995.  It was fun to add software to it.  Little could we imagine that 24 years later these would be such a part of our daily lives.  I have worked in the Internet-related industry for most of the 21st Century, and particularly since 2010.  The typical office worker uses one all day.

This is a sample Bernina shot. I don’t recall which kind Julianne had

Julianne worked at a Quilt Shop for a number of years in Lexington and became a Bernina Sewing Machine trainer. Bernina, like many other companies, had developed computer connectivity and thus took embroidery to a whole new level.  Julianne needed a computer at home just to run her machines.

Back to the phones…another breakthrough began around the turn of the 21st Century as cell phones became internet capable.  Everyone wanted one.  But the explosion didn’t really occur full scale until around 2007 when the iPhone was introduced on June 29, 2007.  Julianne and I have actually had iterations of these from the first one to our current iPhone X devices in 2019.  And boy how these have changed the world for all of us.  Can you imagine living life without a mobile device? I can’t!

First generation iPhone

The iPhones and Android devices of 2019 are so powerful that an entire life can be contained on them.  They have access to the internet.  They can take and store photos.  They become music players..no need for a separate MP3 device (oops, I even skipped over the MP3s and many more applications associated with computers),  You can do your banking.  You can send messages all around the world.  And then there are the selfies.

Julianne and I at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota — a typical photo with our cell phone

Taking a selfie with cell phone in 2015. Top was my picture. Bottom was one of me taking it.  That is San Francisco in the background

So, in closing, here are a few more things that have happened just because of computers, the internet and cell phones:

  • The first website was created in 1990
  • NetMarket became the precursor to Amazon and EBay in 1994
  • EBay was founded in 1995 (originally as AuctionWeb)
  • Amazon.com started in 1995 and has revolutionized the world of retail
  • Wikipedia was started in early 2001
  • LinkedIn got its start in 2002
  • Facebook began in 2004
  • YouTube’s first video was posted on April 23, 2005
  • Twitter began in 2006
  • Instagram started in October 2010

WHEW!!  And that was just the technology of the Information Age Explosion.  Part 3 will look at other great changes.

Julianne’s iPhone has trouble understanding her many times.

 

I Love Trivia!

I am always in pursuit of trivia…all that useless knowledge makes for great and fun conversation. Trivia is (or are) unimportant (or “trivial”) items, especially of information. Usually these are unimportant facts that everybody has stored somewhere at the back of the brain and are useful in conversation or in games.

Jeopardy!_1974It all started for me in the 1960s when I would catch the television trivia show “Jeopardy“, which got its start in the 1960s and continues as a popular show today.  I loved that the material for the questions covered a wide variety of topics (including history and current events, the sciences, the arts, popular culture, literature, and languages),and that there were also pun-laden titles (many of which refer to the standard subjects), wordplay categories, and even entire sets of categories with a common theme.

Trivial Pursuit

Always in pursuit of Trivia!

I have always been a fan of trivia.  I can remember reading the newspaper daily in the 1970s and 1980s…I wanted to see the L.M. Boyd column, which was chock full of trivia.  Here is an example (L.M. Boyd Selections)

“It’s only a coincidence that “nasa” in Hebrew means “to go up.”

Readers_Digest_LogoWhen I was young I also loved to read through the Reader’s Digest. The jokes and funny stories were a blast, but the magazine always had a tons of little trivia tidbits.  Even today on their online site you can find trivia quizzes, such as this “Great State Nicknames” quiz (which by the way, I got a 100% correct on!!).  As trivia became more popular, other magazines began using it.

Paul Harvey

Paul Harvey

One cannot have a discussion about trivia without including the trivia master of AM Radio…Paul Harvey. Known for his conservative and sometimes opinion-laden news stories on ABC radio for decades, he later produced an interesting Trivia type of radio series known as The Rest of the Story, which can be described as a blend of mystery and history. It premiered on May 10, 1976 and quickly grew to six broadcasts a week, and continued until Harvey’s death in 2009. The Rest of the Story series was written and produced by the broadcaster’s son, Paul Harvey, Jr., from its outset and for its thirty-three year duration. Harvey and his radio network stated that the stories in that series, although entertaining, were completely true. True or not, they were always interesting and his listeners, including me, would wait for his “And now, the rest of the story” portion — this was the trivial meat of the broadcast.

FactoidAlso in the 1970s, media had grasped this trivia concept full force and was including it in news reports. In 1973 the novelist/columnist Norman Mailer was attributed with the creation of a new word from his biography of Marilyn Monroe.  The term was “factoid” and it was defined as a questionable or spurious statement presented as a fact, but without supporting evidence. The word can also be used to describe a particularly insignificant or novel fact, in the absence of much relevant context.  Many magazines and TV news shows now have their little Factoids. (Now there is a piece of Trivia you probably didn’t know!!)

One of many Uncle John's Bathroom Reader titles

One of many Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader titles

Through the years I have enjoyed the “Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader” books too. The first edition, simply titled Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader, was released in 1987 with little fanfare, but to Uncle John’s delight, people loved it…and they wanted more. So the following year the “Bathroom Readers Institute” (BRI) released a second edition, and then one after that, and another, and another. In the early 2000s, when Uncle John decided to expand the line beyond those annual “Big John” editions, the series hit the big time. Now there are Bathroom Readers for kids, plus books that cover single subjects such as horses, hockey, history, Texas, quotations, puzzles, baseball, music, Minnesota, Hollywood, Christmas, cats, dogs, golf, New Jersey, trivia quizzes, and loads more.  I don’t have them all, but I have probably read eight or nine different versions!

DUH! - The Stupid History of the Human Race

DUH! – The Stupid History of the Human Race

There are dozens of Trivia books out there, but they have one thread in common…fun and useless trivia.

Antique Archaeology

Antique Archaeology, home the History Channel’s “American Pickers

Then there are the TV shows that come full of trivia. The History Channel features American Pickers and Pawn Stars, both of which always provide history of the things they are showing and also have some nice Trivia breaks in each show. Many shows have trivia pieces in them now so we can always learn something totally useless if we want.

Trivial Pursuit

Trivial Pursuit

In 1982 the board game Trivial Pursuit hit stores. If you have lived in a cave and never heard of this game, the object of the game is to move around the board by correctly answering trivia questions. Questions are split into six categories, with each one having its own color to identify itself; in the classic version of Trivial Pursuit, the Genus edition, these are Geography (blue), Entertainment (pink), History (yellow), Arts & Literature (brown), Science & Nature (green), and Sports & Leisure (orange). Since 1982 there have been dozens of versions of the game, with numerous themes.  The fun for this in my mind has been the thousands of trivia-filled cards that come with the games.  We have taken them on trips and just read through them for fun.  Amazing facts and information have been gathered!!

TriviaWith the widespread growth of the internet in the past couple of decades, there has also been an explosion in Trivia Web Sites and Trivia Apps for mobile devices.  In fact, there are likely trivia sites for every theme imaginable.  A couple of my favorites:

mental_floss – This evolved from the Magazine of the same name (which I believe may have gotten the name from Swami Beyondanda)  Regardless, the magazine has a massive factoid and trivia filled website and blog, has produced its own game called “Split Decision” and has produced a number of books.

Roadside America – My favorite travel site on the web, it is also filled with trivia and useless (but fun) quirkyness. With over 10,000 offbeat sites in the United States featured on their Website, many of them include a brief history of the quirky and strange places, like the Museum of Clean (in Idaho), the Mustard Museum (in Wisconsin), the world’s biggest twine ball (or all five of them), etc.

But there are many more. One person has compiled a list of 100 “Best of Web” Trivia websites. But there are other lists as well.

wikipediaPerhaps my FAVORITE site of choice for all trivial pursuits of both useful and useless knowledge is Wikipedia. According to Wikipedia, the site a collaboratively edited, multilingual, free Internet encyclopedia supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. Wikipedia’s 30 million articles in 287 languages, including over 4.3 million in the English Wikipedia, are written collaboratively by volunteers around the world. And this is where I have my fun….here are a few examples

  • When in church we may sing a hymn and I am curious about the composer and his/her background.  I pull out the iPhone, look them up in a Google search and click on the Wikipedia link. VOILA! There is now a whole bunch of detail and many links to other documents.
  • Many evenings I watch television for a couple of hours before bed.  As I see the actors I can look them up on Wikipedia and then typically IMDB (a large data base about movies, TV and the industry).  It is here that we can find out about they kinds of jobs an actor may have had before becoming famous or what obscure movie they may have been in early in their career.
  • I may see something interesting on TV, in a magazine or elsewhere.  Wikipedia will most likely have the details (after a Google search of course).

Google and Wikipedia are my friends — they constantly feed my mind.