Modern Technologies That Have Much Longer Histories
Technology has shaped the modern world. From helping us to connect with friends and loved ones, to allowing us to work from home — technology has made it possible and enjoyable. Modern tech creations have also revolutionized the entertainment sector with streaming services changing the way we watch, listen, and read content. Gaming is not excluded either. Online casinos have completely reshaped slot games, creating new features and exciting ways to play. Most even offer free spins and other bonuses which wasn’t possible in decades gone by.
Technology is constantly changing and evolving. Only a decade ago, the internet was still something we accessed almost exclusively through our computers; websites were awash with Flash content, and electric cars were usually found on slot car tracks.
Because of the speed of developments and the nature of tech, it usually feels like all of the gadgets we take for granted today are relatively new creations that have only sprung into existence over the last few years.
However, the reality is quite different. Most technologies can be traced back decades or even further, you just have to know where to look.
Virtual reality is a technology that definitely feels very new. It has only become mainstream in the last few years following the crowdfunding campaign of the Oculus headsets; and the company’s subsequent purchase by Meta.
The first device that Oculus created was the Rift. It launched on Kickstarter in 2012 but didn’t get into the hands of consumers for a further four years.
The company has, therefore, only had around six years of selling time.
But VR is much much older than that. In 1995, Nintendo released the Virtual Boy; a primitive virtual reality headset that lacked many of the features we expect from devices today; including motion tracking and even a strap to attach it to your head.
Instead, users placed the Virtual Boy on a table, adjusted the height and rested their heads on its open side. It had red monochrome graphics with characters like Mario displayed as hollow stick figures.
It was a huge flop and was withdrawn from sale in 1996, having sold less than 1 million units.
Even that isn’t the first example of virtual reality though. The concept goes back several decades further. It is widely believed that the first piece of VR technology was the Sensorama, a machine that was created by Morton Heilig in 1962 using the ideas he had documented in a paper he wrote in 1955.
The Sensorama was quite different to a modern VR headset. Users wouldn’t strap it to their heads, instead, they’d practically have to climb inside it. A video would then play on the screen while smells were wafted around and fans would blow air at the user at varying speeds; depending on what happened on screen.
The idea has evolved a lot in the 60 years that have passed since; though it’s difficult to say an aroma-producing headset would have sold well in the 21st century.
Smartphones have completely changed the world in just a decade. The first iPhone released in 2007, though it took a few years for the pocket-sized computer to make its way into the hands of a broad section of society.
As soon as smartphones reached a critical mass, the entire modern world began to look radically different.
Suddenly, everyone had something to look at on the train or bus; people began using them to pay for their shopping, and QR codes began appearing everywhere.
Although the iPhone helped to popularize the smartphone; most of us probably know that it wasn’t the first device of its kind to hit the market.
For many years before Apple throw its hat into the ring, smartphones were the domain of Blackberry, Symbian, and Microsoft. Their devices were very different to modern products since they were aimed at business users who needed access to their emails and calendars on the go and had little to no options for expanding functionality with apps.
Microsoft first released its Windows Mobile operating system in 2000 as Pocket PC 2000. It ran off the Windows CE kernel and included features like web browsing, word processing, and emails.
Blackberry, on the other hand, began to release primitive smartphones like the Charm in the early 2000s; an upgrade from its pager models of the late 1990s.
But they still came way after the first smartphone. In fact, the concept is around 30 years old today as the first recognizable device of its kind created in 1992.
This was the IBM Simon Personal Computer, a (relatively) handheld device that packed in the features of a PDA (emails, faxes, and calendar) along with the ability to make calls. It cost around $899 ($1,899 today) and only had a battery life of an hour.
It did, however, have a touchscreen, which many early Blackberry handsets didn’t.
The electric car revolution is well underway. Of course, they are not a panacea that will fix all of our environmental problems; but they are certainly in a position to make a big impact going into the future.
Tesla has been leading the way in many areas of electric vehicles, though it, by no means, has a monopoly. Just about every traditional car manufacturer on the planet is also working on and/or is already selling fully electric and hybrid vehicles.
These are not an entirely new concept though. The first Tesla car was the Roadster, which it launched in 2008.
This was, however, a full 118 years after the first electric car made its debut in the US. In 1890, William Morrison created a vehicle capable of travelling at 14 mph (similar to other cars at the time) and could seat six passengers.
Porsche even created an EV called the P1 in 1898 as demand for these battery-powered transporters boomed.
However, efforts from Ford and other manufacturers to create better petrol-powered cars meant that electric ones fell out of favor. That’s beginning to be reversed now; thanks to the improvements in battery technology that have come about in more recent years.