Generational Acceleration

We have changed a lot as a culture in recent years. It seems that these changes keep happening at an ever faster pace. In my grandfather’s day, things were pretty much the same as they were in his father’s day. There were a few new inventions, I few social norms that were being challenged by rebellious youth but that was as it had been from time immemorial. The automobile was invented in my grandfather’s lifetime. He could remember a time before they existed.

In my father’s day, things were beginning to change faster. We had been through one major world war and the threat of the Nazis were looming large. There were automobiles everywhere and my father embraced them. He and his pals bought an old model A Ford an fixed it up.

Dad used to go to automobile auctions and get jobs driving cars for the dealers. He was twelve years old at the time. They would give him money for a bus ticket home. He said he would keep the money and hitch hike home. This was a very different society than we have today.

Television was invented when my dad was a teenager but it didn’t really become a major force in American culture until he was grown. I on the other hand never knew a time when there wasn’t television.

For me, computers were the exciting new technology. There were big computers before I was born but when I was in high school, Intel invented the microprocessor. That was the chip that made personal computers a reality. I wanted to own a computer so bad I could taste it.

When I couldn’t find a job during the recession of 1975, I joined the army for computer training. I learned to fix and program small computers in the army. When I got out of the army, I immediately got a job working with computers.

My daughters never knew a time when there weren’t computers. We always had computers around the house when they were growing up. Computers were a part of their daily life. They didn’t learn to program them but they did use them to write papers, to balance their bank account, and especially to play games.

My grandchildren never knew a time without cell phones. I wonder what the next technology is going to be. Is it going to be virtual reality? Is it going to be 3D printers? Is it going to be self driving cars? I know. It will be all of these and things we can barely imagine now.