I was probably around 14 years old when I was first exposed to a real boy’s toy – a mid-90’s gaming console. It wasn’t mine, of course, but that of a friend. I knew then that I’d found my first love, but also felt that handling stuff like these was probably just once in a lifetime opportunity for me.
I wouldn’t notice then that my bare necessities were evolving. Little did I know that, in under a couple of years, consoles like these would be obsolete and that my life will be inundated with electronics (of all sort) in more ways than I’d care to remember!
It wouldn’t be unfair to say that the world we know today is under the spell of gadgets. For better or worse, our generation has been gifted with technological advances that were either a dream or a myth a couple of decades ago.
When I landed my first job, I was gifted a rather “expensive” mobile phone. Not being acclimatized to such lavish gifts, I made a pledge to keep it for the rest of my life. It was one of the earliest mobiles to come with a color display, 1 MB of storage, stereo FM and to top it all – had a Java OS. I was convinced that it would outlive me. Connoisseurs would remember my phone as one of the first mobiles that could change its clothing (in reference to the replaceable outer skin). I remember it as the mobile I wanted to ditch in under a year!
There was not much wrong with the phone. It was just that there were other better ones in the market – much quicker than I had anticipated! By the time I got the mobile from the shop to my home, new products were already lined up which spoke of storage spaces in 100 MB or more; while I was impressing friends by taking their pic with my CIF camera, the next in line in the same series spoke of a 1 MP camera; in no time, anyone who spoke of clock rates in MHz (as opposed to GHz) were considered to be living in the age of dinosaurs; the sleek new mobile that came with 64 MB RAM would hardly last that many weeks before being overtaken by far superior competitors.
While there was growth in many aspects, there were several components that were getting quelled as well. As if to ascertain “technological Darwinism” features like Push-to-Talk or Visual Radio never really made it big. Despite the ups and downs, the progress was largely seen as positive. It was like reliving the era of the shrinking PCs. Only this time the gadgets were not just dwindling in size but also narrowing the disparity of access to information across the world.