By Jim Stanton
Guest Columnist 

We'll see many changes during our lifetime


August 27, 2020

I have always been a person interested in history and particularly my family history. When I first started doing research into my family a distant cousin who was also very interested in family history, told me that when I talked to the older people in the family to take a tape recorder and record what they had to say.

When I was told this several decades ago, taking a tape recorder with me at the time would have been a little bit of a job. At the time tape recorders were about the size of a medium size suit case and were usually on a rolling cart.

But thinking back, I think if I had used the tape recorder back then, it would have been worth the trouble. Today there is no excuse for not recording your conversation with previous generations, to begin with today most of us carry cell phones that can be used for voice or video recording, and small voice recorders are available fairly cheap.

This brings me to one of the topics of this article, that is the changes many of us see during our life time. When I first started doing my family research I used a paper notebook and a pencil or ink pen. This usually required the person doing the research to make trips to places where public records were kept and also to cemeteries. During the mid 1970's I bought one of the first personal computers to be made, a Radio Shack TRS-80. For the time this computer wasn't what I would call cheap, I think I paid somewhere in the neighborhood of $700 or $800 for it, and just a few years later the desk top and soon pocket calculators coming out had more memory then this large computer.

Memory is something else that has come a long way, in just a couple of decades, to begin with it was on 10.5 inch reels and even as large as those reels were, they wouldn't hold no where near the amount of information that can now be stored on a memory card smaller than your thumb nail.

I remember a couple of us almost got run off of a job years ago when we were installing memory banks in a large room, these memory banks were large cabinets with reel to reel tape. One of the men on the job said that one day in the future we would be able to get all the memory in that room in just one cabinet and wouldn't need those rows of memory banks, most of the people laughed at him for saying that. Now you can get thousands of times more memory on a thumb size card.

These changes have taken place just since I've been an adult. Last week our family welcomed a new addition, a great nephew to me. Being born in 2020, there is a very good chance he could live several years into the next century, that will be the 22nd century, a century that many of us may remember the television series Star Trek starts in. This makes me wonder what changes my great nephew might see in his life time.

When my mother was born in 1927, airplanes had only been around for just a little more than twenty years, yet she lived to see humans walk on the moon and live in outer space. When my grandmother was born in 1889, people were riding horses or wagons pulled by horses or other animals as their main form of transportation and more subject to the weather or as they more often referred to it, the elements.

By the time she passed away in 1983, look how people were moving from place to place, normal weather was no longer even considered by most people when they traveled, since they were most likely going to be in a fully climate controlled vehicle. Even years after my great-grandmother was born in 1858, for anyone wanting to go start a new life in California it usually meant, several months of travel in a covered wagon. A few years later with the building of the transcontinental railroad that time was cut down from months to just days. By the time she passed away in 1964, that same trip could be made in a matter of hours on a airliner.

I have often wondered what people back in the mid 1800's that were getting ready to make that months long trip across the country would have thought if someone had told them, hey, in a hundred years this trip will take only a few hours to make. At this time the Alger Sullivan Historical Society is not holding it's regularly scheduled monthly meetings due the the Covid-19 pandemic.


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