I have come to be quite impressed with the advancement that has taken place in the field of electronics over the past few years. Today we can find electronic gadgets in a variety of places. Also, those inventions are being used for a variety of purposes. As one who was born before the advent of computers and hand-held calculators, it has taken me a while just to begin to realize the impact those inventions have had and will, no doubt, continue to have in the future.
In my 30 plus years as an employee of the Tomahawk, I was fortunate to see continued improvement in typesetting and other aspects of the newspaper business. Much of the improvement was brought about by the use of electronic machines.
While I got into newspaper work too late to use the Linotype machines with which type was molded from molten lead, Ive been told I didnt miss anything. Those machines were electric and mechanical and quite difficult to operate Ive been told.
Later during my time at the newspaper, computers were introduced and while I was somewhat dubious about them at first, I soon realized they would decrease labor and be a great asset to the newspaper producing process.
One of the oldest calculating instruments was the abacus, As a youngster, I remember making an abacus by using wire and beads. While looking thorough some storage boxes recently, I found the abacus I had made many years ago. There was a time when slide rules were used to calculate. Now hand-held calculators are the go-to devices for mathematical calculations.
Sometime in the mid-40s I remember reading or hearing about the creation of a device that could solve mathematical problems at super speed. It was developed by the University of Pennsylvania and was dubbed the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator (ENIAC). It weighed several tons and occupied a whole room. While it required vacuum tubes the modern desktops and laptops use integrated circuits to work their magic in such a small size. Now iPads are the rage.
My knowledge about computers is very limited. I know how to use one as I acquired a working knowledge of computers during my years at the Tomahawk. As for what makes them tick, I dont have a clue. Recently, I was faced with a problem. I wanted to preserve my photos and information especially my columns that Ive written over the past seven years in case my computer crashed.
I recently bought a flash drive. It is a small device about the size of a small penknife. It will hold 2 Gigabytes of information. I found after I had put all my columns and all my photos and other information on the flash drive, I still had a good deal more than a Gigabyte of storage left. It is amazing to me that a device so small could possibly hold so much information.
In gathering a little information about the Gigabyte I found that one Gigabyte could hold the contents of about 10 yards of books on a shelf. Then there are Terabytes, Petabytes, Exabytes, Zettabytes, Yottabytes, Brontobytes and Geopbytes. A Terabyte can hold about 1000 copies of the Encyclopedia Britannica. From that concept on the capacity of the other bytes boggles the mind.
I dont know how long Flash Drives have been available or why I didnt know about them sooner, but Im just glad I found out about them. As we realize all the electronic devices that are available today, we may well be asking ourselves, Whats next?