Can you say “progress?”

1 July, 2008
Rat Fink

So I was looking at 1930s-style dresses yesterday.

Check out this short reel from oh, I’d say around 1932-33, that predicts what clothing will look like in the year 2000. It’s awesome.

Also amazing is how accurate a couple of their predictions were, like the telephone-on-the-body thing, and climate-controlling clothing. It got me thinking about how far technology has come in only 75 years. I know that sounds cliché (“look how far we’ve come!”), but it’s really true. Think about the expanse of time between when upright humans first walked the earth (between 100,000 and 300,000 years ago) and the year 1900. I mean, I know that the manufacture of materials like metal alloys, chemicals, concrete and glass helped facilitate these inventions, but consider this:

  • Electricity was discovered in 1749, but 60 more years went by before Humphrey Davy experimented with arc light, and it was another 65 years after that before anyone actually filed a patent on the first electric light bulb (and it wasn’t Edison, but I won’t go into that right now).
  • Joseph Niépce took the first photograph in 1837 (the exposure took an incredible 8 hours), but affordable cameras for public purchase were not available until 1901, when George Eastman developed The Brownie.
  • The first self-powered (by steam) road vehicle was built in 1769 by a French guy named Nicolas Cugnot. Yet, self-powered vehicles (this time by internal combustion) would not be available for sale to the public until 80 years later, when Panhard & Levassor manufactured and sold their cars with a Daimler engine.

Now, I’m not complaining about the time it took people to invent stuff back then. Rather, I’m saying how amazing it is that so much has been invented *since* then, in a relatively short time. A very short time, actually.

Just 40 years ago, when I was in elementary school:

  1. There was no such thing as a personal computer, affordable to almost anyone.
  2. I never dreamed I could watch full-length theater movies in my own home.
  3. Every telephone had a wire attached. I remember when push-button phones came out; I was bummed that our dad didn’t want to spend the extra money to get one.
  4. Public phone booths were everywhere. A call cost a dime.
  5. At a certain time every night, the television picture turned to snow, after which nothing was on until the next morning.

So the next time we want to complain about the long wait at the ATM, or if the internet is slow, or our cell phone signal drops out…well, you get the idea.

Holy crap, this was long. I amaze myself sometimes. I’m usually so quiet, so demure, so shy….

Fink out.

Video credit: www.itnsource.com (Pathe BP200339118416); “Brownie” photo credit: George Eastman House
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Mavis
Mavis
1 July, 2008 8:06 am

Wonderful piece, Ms. Cecil B. Demure! Very informative – brings back memories. ;0) That first dress didn’t shock me too much. I think Madonna wore something like it! The man with the telephone attached – spot on!

Thanks for a great read, dahling!

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