- The Colorful Sixties: Color TV, 8-Track Tapes, and Men on the Moon
- The Entertaining Seventies: Videogames, VCRs, and Walkmen
- The Fractious Eighties: Videodiscs, PCs, and CDs
- The Networking Nineties: Email, Windows, and the Web
- The New Millennium: HDTV, Digital Music, and Smartphones
- The Turbulent Teens: Technology Today
The Turbulent Teens: Technology Today
Now we're up to date. In the past five years, we've seen subtle and not-so-subtle shifts in the technology available to and used by us.
The Internet has gone from being a productivity tool to an entertainment portal. Streaming video services such as Netflix and Hulu help an increasing number of homeowners cut the cable cord (see Figure 26), while Pandora, Spotify, and other all-you-can-eat streaming music services have supplanted "traditional" digital downloads from iTunes and other online music stores.
Figure 26 Netflix today.
We spend more time on the Internet tweeting on Twitter and posting on Facebook (see Figure 27) than we do searching Google for useful information. If we're still on Facebook, that is—having reached a billion users, Facebook is no longer "cool" with younger users, who are moving to more mobile-based social media.
Figure 27 Facebook today.
Speaking of mobile, an increasing number of users access the Internet from their smartphones instead of their desktop or notebook PCs. Some also use their iPads or Android tablets, the tablet market having been established in 2010 by Apple with the launch of the original iPad (see Figure 28). Smartphones have become smart enough, with big enough displays, that some younger users have abandoned computer use completely.
Figure 28 Apple's first-generation iPad.
This move to mobile is reflected in declining PC sales over the past several years. Microsoft's ill-fated release of Windows 8 didn't help, either; by ditching the useful Start button and Start menu, Microsoft shot itself (and the entire PC industry) in the foot, big time.
Google attempted to fill that big hole in the market with its Chrome operating system and Chromebook notebook computers (see Figure 299). For two years in a row (2013–2014), Chromebooks were the top-selling computers at Amazon and other retailers. Many were sold to schools and other educational organizations, which appreciated the low price and trouble-free operation typical of Chromebooks; in fact, many school districts switched from iPad tablets to Chromebooks for their students.
Figure 29 A $199 Google Chromebook, from Samsung.
So that's the way the tech world looks today, compared to how it looked 50 years ago. We're still watching a lot of TV, but from different sources and on much bigger screens. We still talk on our telephones, but today's phones fit in our pockets and also connect to the Internet. What's completely new is the Internet, along with personal computers, tablets, DVDs, and other new technology. Yes, it's a different world—and it's filled with a lot more fun and useful gadgets.
Michael Miller is a prolific and popular writer. He has written more than 150 non-fiction books over the past 25 years, along with numerous articles, blog posts, and instructional videos. His best-selling books include Computer Basics: Absolute Beginner's Guide, Real Mean Use DOS (Que, 1992), and The Internet of Things: How Smart TVs, Smart Cars, Smart Homes, and Smart Cities Are Changing the World. Read more about Michael's books and other projects at http://www.millerwriter.com; follow him on Twitter @molehillgroup.
Technology, fifty years of tech, Internet, personal computer, TV, Windows, Apple, Microsoft, iPod, iPhone, Mac, IBM, CD, DVD, PC, VCR, Google, Netflix