Monday, July 6, 2015

Thoughts on Immortality

This morning I read yet another article declaring how some current piece of technology will soon be dead and gone. This time it was that conventional, spinning storage medium we call disk. Solid state devices are getting cheaper and faster and more efficient and so naturally all those floor space mongering, power hungry, heat generating mechanical antiques are going to simply vanish.

I disagree.

The truth is none of this stuff ever really dies. Of course you don't encounter many 3.5 inch floppy disks any more. But we can cite an almost endless list of technologies that the prognosticators have assured us are destined for the the grave, most of which are still around.

For instance there are still as many or more lines of COBOL code in production today as there are in any other computer programming language. Mainframe computers abound. Even the RIM Blackberry is still with us despite Apple and Android, and the company's own missteps. Pagers and PDAs still sell well years after the advent of the ubiquitous and all powerful mobile device. The list goes on and on.

In fact, outside the computer realm, people continue to read books and magazines, VCRs are still around and so are CDs. According to the CEA, digital cameras, e-readers and MP3 players are among the top gift holiday items. Even vinyl records have enjoyed renewed popularity and are staging a comeback. Heck, I own a hand cranked phonograph and a collection of 78s.

Okay, the phonograph is an antique and, though it works, I don't actually use it to listen to music. But the point is many of these things are very much in daily use many years after the prediction of their demise. If you expand your view outside of the US there are even more so-called obsolete devices very much alive and kicking.

Perhaps they aren't written about as much or advertised as heavily and so they slip quietly into the background of our minds. They are no longer the newest, hottest or sexiest thing on the market. But news of their death, as one famous author is reputed to have said, has been greatly exaggerated.

Captain Joe

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