In the endless march of progress, it can be very easy to lose track of the accelerated Evolution of Technology. Especially if something has been around before one is born, it can be easy to think they had always existed.
Even if one is broadly aware that one invention of a particular, ubiquitous device, it tends to be only in the most abstract of terms but also simplistic and inaccurate ones.
The Cliffs Notes on History seem as though they would read along the lines of “Everyone used candles, then there was the light bulb, and they didn’t any more” so on and so forth for every other device invented since 1850.
People in history who dared to dream
Have you ever seen the old footage of people who first tried to create a mechanized flying machine, completely ignoring the fact that, in most cases, the blimp already existed?
Are some of them putting what amount to propellers on cars? Kind of funny right? As well as dangerous and mostly pointless as what would be the airplane was years away and looked nothing like these early death machines.
This is not to say that no one should ever try anything and we should all be reading printed books and newspapers by candlelight in a room warmed by a wood stove. Just that real invention, or innovation to use the accurate term for the majority of the cases, comes only with the extended period of painful labor a streaming parade of failures and, more often than not, at least in the old days, at least several injuries if not one or more deaths.
With the evolution of technology many sacrifices increasingly, not only go unsung, but completely unknown as time goes on. To be fair, this preamble has little to nothing to do with the modern age which, according to my rigorous empirical research is a terrible bore for at least 45% of modern audiences but this is near the point where I actually get to the interesting stuff.
Modems are great!
Modems, for those of you born before 1990, is a funny looking word referring to little boxes that let computers, but not phones or tablets, get on the internet, at that point called “the World Wide Web” (what all that ‘www’ business stands for in web addresses) or “the Information Superhighway”. They are the reason that we can do what we now do, mostly forgetting what went before.
But Modems are not always great…
Now mostly inside the computer casing, yes, they are in there along with the DVD player and hard-drive, tucked away and unobtrusive, Back in the day they were big, hard plastic things making a noise that would be heard emanating from the deepest bowels of Hell.
Based partly on the technology used in Fax machines, there were modems, originally pronounced moe-dems by the uninitiated, back before the internet (yes, there was indeed a time before the web, even dial-up).
Necessity the catalyst for Evolution of technology
What happened in those days, when we all wore bonnets and computers ran on coal, was that the data would be sent directly from one computer to another, hard-drive to hard-drive, by way of a modem.
What makes the evolution of technology truly ironic is that while in these latter, halcyon days of high-speed internet and wireless connections, traditional mail is referred to as ‘snail mail’ yet back then, around 1980s, it was actually faster at getting information from one place to another.
Though to be fair this situation was not only to do with the somewhat clunky performance of the technology of the day. This was also a time in which the postal service was still regarded as ‘the’ service, and there was a minimum of two deliveries a day from Monday to Saturday.