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Products of the Past

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A teacher arranged her young students into a circle. She then went around the circle and asked each one a question.

“Robert, what sound does a cow make?”

Robert replied, “It goes ‘moo.’”

“Albert, what sound does a cat make?”

Albert said, “It goes ‘meow.’”

“Oscar, what sound does a lamb make?”

Oscar said, “It goes ‘baaa.’”

“Noel, what sound does a mouse make?”

Noel paused, and said, “Uhh ... it goes ... ‘click...click!’”

This is the age of technology .

There was a time when a mouse used to be a rodent and windows were openings in your home. Today, you have mouse, wireless mouse, mouse that operates with radio frequency, and track pads replacing the mice. Disruptive technology is here to stay.

There was a time when it took a long time before a new product was accepted by the market. Today, the market eagerly awaits the launch of the next big thing in technology .

I was giving a seminar once and people began to smile. Some were giggling and a lot more of them began laughing. I asked, “What’s going on?”

One brave soul responded and said, “Francis, you said we need to read books and we need to listen to tapes. But nobody listens to tapes anymore.”

“Oh boy,” I told myself. Caught in a time warp. How could I have missed that?

After giving a talk, one lady approached me and said, “Francis, I love your talk. Have you recorded it on a cassette?”

“Cassette?” I half smiled but that’s exactly what happened to me. The only difference is that I said, “tape.”

This makes me think. What has happened to the products of the past? The hits? The wonders? The breakthrough technology that made the world marvel? Products like:

1. Video Recorder (circa 1983)? The one with the flashing 12:00? Never figured out what that function was for anyway.

2. Brick (circa 1990). I remember my first cell phone was a phone named ANTEL. Compare the size of that today to the newer ones—my first cell phone was as small as my Coleman water jug. You charge the battery for eight hours and you get to use it for only two.

3. Cloning (same time). The biggest worry at the time was not a virus but cloning in an Analog platform not digital.

4. Let’s go back, way back. Remember phones had party-lines and you fought with them all the time?

5. What about Caller ID (circa 1995)? Staring at a number that came in and you shock the caller by knowing it was them.

And for those who first saw the light of day after 1990, a quick fad then was called the DAT. DAT stands for Digital Audio Tape. Sony Corporation introduced this in the mid-1980s. This replaced the old cassettes that really lasted many years.

And CDs came into the picture and are now losing ground to iPods and MP3 players. A couple of years back, I remember entering the last two days of Tower Records’ existence in America and everything in there sold for just US$2 or less. Today, online music purchases gain momentum every single day.

My son plays the drums for a popular band. He says that their first hit became a hit without the CD. It was placed online and people here and even in places as far as Belgium and Germany listened to it.

Products of the past. I wonder why, as I think about them, the same products bring back memories of specific events. And what about future products? I read about scientists and researchers developing the next-generation paper battery. A supercharged battery that can be bent, rolled, twisted and cut to size like a piece of paper. It looks like the next great thing; a breakthrough technology that becomes today’s hit would, in a short span of time, quickly turn into tomorrow’s museum piece.

May I make a suggestion? Don’t be in too much of a hurry to HAVE that new toy. You spend a great deal for it and then, a few months later, that ‘new’ thing will be just a ‘thing’ when the novelty of newness is gone.

Just because you’re using an old cell phone doesn’t mean you’re second- class and old. It may mean you are frugal and practical, that’s all.

Somebody says, “The world is getting complicated. Somebody just gave me a battery-operated paperweight.”

And you’re probably asking, “Paperweight? What’s that?”

Don’t let technology complicate your life. Live simply but live to the full. With or without the latest gadget.

Print ed: 04/13


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