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So you have a Time Machine hidden away somewhere too?
"I controlled my laughter and simple said "No,I am very busy,so I can't write any code for you". The moment they heard this all the smiling face turned into a sad looking face and one of them farted. So I had to leave the place as soon as possible." - Mr.Prakash One Fine Saturday. 24/04/2004
Yes, all those historic events interspersed with the the technological advances make up our lives. You went down a track that I managed to avoid with your military service. The computer particularly the PC is very significant and amazing in many ways. There is no other invention that has become so ubiquitous. Perhaps I have become blase about them.
"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." - Bertrand Russell
Most people around here are far too young to remember Sputnik. (I remember Apollo 11!) But lots of the inventions people would mention as made in their own life time, are not - they are much older.
Like the microwave: As a boy, I read about these in my parents' old science books dated 1951 and 1952. These books also explained how color TV was made, with a photo of a color TV screen. And of optical "fibers" - they were glass pipes, not fibers, but the principle explained in the article is that of optical fibers. The first IC came in 1949. The first digital computers were developed during WW2. FM radio was patented in 1935, the field-effect transistor in 1925.
Of my own "firsts" worth mentioning that I did play around programming APL on what I believe was the first commercial portable (/luggable) personal computer, the IBM 5100, back in 1975 - but it wasn't an "invention", just a smaller form factor.
Some times I have fun with my younger colleagues, when a crash leads to a core dump, I ask if they have ever seen a real core dump - and then I show them my old 1152 bit core memory. Or I dig up my old card decks, or punched paper tape. Even flapping floppies, 8 in size, is something new and unknown to younger people today.
Now that you mention calculators: The first generation came as four-function (+-/*) or five-function (with square root as well) variants - the latter quite a lot more expensive. A friend of mine wanted to save money by buying the cheaper one, hoping that it actually could do sqrt, if you found the solder connections for the button. He digged out a scalpel to cut an opening in the plastic case where the 5-fn model had its sqrt button ... and the button popped up! Even the button itself was there, inside the case! No soldering required, no button needed. Making an opening in the case was all that was required.
Talking about IBM 5100, have you seen "Compaq Portable 1" restoration videos made by 8-bit guy? One of the hardest restoration projects he has done yet.
Going back on topic, 3D printer is a really cool relatively recent invention. Even they are not as significant like the other things mentioned here, I think it's pretty amazing to see your computer generated 3d model come to life. What do you think? Do you think 3D printers could become big deal in a few years and even reach general consumer market?
I might be about the same age as Peter Wasser - I am 67 and, like him, from Australia. My first computer was my university's IBM 7040 in 1969 which I programmed in assembly language. I have been programming ever since, although now semi-retired. These days I make apps for Android phones using Java. And while I agree on GPS and fibre optics as being significant I think I have to agree with others here that computers, especially as personal devices, and the internet are the innovations with the greatest impact. However a close contender is the mobile phone and another is the commercial use of jet aircraft.
Invented a while before I was born but anyway. The late Hans Rosling said that the most important invention was the washing machine. Because that freed up a lot of time for the women not having to stand in some frozen creek in the middle of the winter washing clothes. Instead they could read to their kids, help them with homework and make higher education possible for a greater part of the population.
I'll go another route. In the area of music, the electric guitar. At 55, I can't say it was invented in my lifetime but it certainly flourished and was refined by further inventions during the time. Utilization is possibly more important than initial invention. Richard Daniels in The Heavy Guitar Bible, Volume II makes an excellent point about the extensive sustain providing guitarists playing options far beyond what was available before. A revolution akin to what the violin provided for classical music. BTW, if you are a guitarist, this is a great read from the formative years of rock.
My first "computer" was a huge block of electro-mechanical relays and the next was a large chassis full of thyratrons. The first program I wrote was on a 256 byte Univac digital trainer circa 1964. My vote for the most important technological innovation in my lifetime is the transistor without which there could be no integrated circuit or any of the more recent innovations.
I have to concur with many of the other respondents here: the personal computer. When I think how it's morphed into the many forms it takes now from PCs to phones to watches to IoT and how the computing engine has shrunk and is in so many objects, I marvel at how much we take this immersion for granted. It's had so many impacts on our lives, too many of them not so good but many that are.
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