The computer circuits, necessary to fly men

 Thephones: The idea for cellularphone service dates back at least to 1947, but the first call was made from thesidewalk outside the Manhattan Hilton in 1973 by Martin Cooper, a Motorolaresearcher who rang up his rival at AT&T Bell Labs to test the newphone.  Thirty years later, more than half of all Americans own one andcellular networks are beginning to serve Internet access at broadband speedsthrough thin air.

Cell phones have brought a whole new meaning to the termmultitasking. Twenty years ago, it was not possible to talk to the office whileyou were at the grocery store picking up some necessary items. You could neverhave had a three-way business conference while you were fixing dinner or beenable to deal with a business client from home while caring for a sick child.Cell phones have enabled us to do various tasks all at the same time.Space flight: Americans from 50 years ago would be disappointed to learn wenever went further than the Moon — no Mars colony, no 2001 odyssey to Jupiter,no speed-of-light spaceships.  Even the Shuttle is in trouble.  Butthe space race against the Russians that dominated the national psyche (and agood chunk of the budget) in the ’60s and ’70s pushed the development ofhundreds of enabling technologies, including synthetic fibres and integratedcomputer circuits, necessary to fly men to the Moon and back.  And theastronauts brought back a lesson from space: “We saw the earth the size of aquarter, and we realized then that there is only one earth.

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We are all brothers.”With the revolution of space flight launching network satellites that hasenabled global connections that has enabled global communication.Personal computers: Before IBM recast the desktop computer from hobbyist’sgadget to office automation tool in 1983 followed by Apple’s people-friendlyMacintosh a year later a “minicomputer” was the size of a washing machine andrequired a special air-conditioned room.

  But the trained technicians whooperated the old mainframes already knew computers were cool: They could usethem to play games, keep diaries, and trade messages with friends across thecountry, while still looking busy.  Today, thanks to the PC, we all lookbusy. Digital media: “The camera doesn’t lie” went a saying not heard much sincethe release of Photoshop 1.0 in 1990.  Digitized audio, pictures, movies,and text let even an amateur edit reality — or conjure it from scratch — with akeyboard and a mouse.  A singer’s bad notes, a model’s blemishes, or anovercast sky in a movie scene can be fixed as easily as a spelling error. Just as important, digital media can be copied over and over nearly for free,stored permanently without fading, and sent around the world in seconds.

 It rightly worries the movie and music industries, but how do you put the genieback in the bottle if there’s no bottle anymore?The Internet: This one seems like a no-brainer, but the Net’s unique strengthis that no two people will agree on why it’s so important.  The world’slargest and most unruly library, it’s also a global news channel, social club,research archive, shopping service, town hall, and multimedia kiosk.  Addto that the most affordable mass medium ever, and a curse to anyone with asecret to keep.

  Three-fifths of Americans now use the Net, but it remainsto be seen whether the connections to one another will transform us, or provethat we’ll never change. TV: Barely20 years after radio shook the entertainment landscape, broadcast televisionsent out another temblor in the 1930s and 1940s. Television changed everythingfrom the way people got their news to how advertising was done.Despite beingblamed for everything from our sedentary lifestyles to societal violence, TVisn’t going anywhere, and in fact an incredible number of waking ours are spentin front of the boob tube. Last year, a Nielson report estimated that Americanswatch more than 5 hours a day, on average. The Consumer Electronics Association(CEA) recently estimated that, recession be danged, ownership ofhigh-definition TVs in U.S.

households has doubled in the past two years.Radio: WhenGuglielmo Marconi patented his radiotelegraph system in 1901, he envisioned it asa way for ships to wirelessly communicate with one another. But by the 1920s,regular broadcasts of music and news exploded, ushering in a new era of massmedia. From baby monitors to military radar, radio is now firmly entrenched ineveryday life. The ability to harness radio waves eventually made possible allforms of wireless networking, from cell phones to Wi-Fi.

  The Printing Press:The original game-changing gadget was too big to fit in your pocket, but itrevolutionized literacy all the same. Around 1450, German goldsmith JohannesGutenburg transformed printing with his press, a table-sized machine modelledafter the wine presses of the day. The invention used thousands of movablemetal letters to quickly and cheaply copy text. Gutenburg’s press took thespread of ideas out of the hands of elites and paved the way for the ProtestantReformation and the Enlightenment.


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