From a world without embedded to it being everywhere. What a career!
I recently read a book about the history of the Patapsco River, an important tributary in Maryland, and was struck by the slow pace of change over human history. A 17th century farmer’s life was likely no different from that of an agrarian several thousand years earlier. For most of human history one’s life was pretty much like that of one’s great-grandparents.
The industrial revolution took place yesterday, considering humankind’s long presence on this planet. Starting in the mid-18th century it moved people from the land into factories and created all sorts of consumer goodies. But people remained largely poor; I read (somewhere) that in 1810 94% of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty compared with 10% today. (Interestingly, in absolute numbers, roughly the same number of people remain in that unenviable lot today and two centuries ago).
My late grandmother was born in 1898. She grew up in Manhattan. I once asked if she had had a telephone; her reply was that she did know someone, on the other side of the island, who had one. I well remember in the 50s and 60s how any long-distance call was a matter of Dad’s urgent business or an announcement of a death in the family. In fact, here in the USA it was illegal to own a phone then; Ma Bell leased them to consumers. Yet now pretty much everyone is glued to their personal phones.
In my family, in the course of three generations, this technology has gone from unattainable to routine. Except that today’s devices don’t resemble those of 1910, 1950, or even 1980 at all; they are battery-powered computers that just a few years ago would have been impossible to imagine.
Continue reading on EE Times' sister site, Embedded.com.