101 Years of Progress

Rather than retype it, here’s a copy and paste from my blog today:

My wife’s grandmother died yesterday. While sad, this post isn’t about that. It is about the fact that she was 101 years old. 101! She was closing in on 102 in May.

My Father-in-Law put it this way: Its and end of an era. Think about what this woman saw in her lifetime:

  • automobiles weren’t mass produced yet.
  • radio: wasn’t a main stream broadcasting medium until the 1920’s
  • Commercial Television didn’t exist in 1906. 1935 was the first regular television broadcast.
  • Movies: Movies with sound didn’t exist until 1923…The Jazz Singer(first full length movie with sound) wasn’t realsed until 1927
  • Telephone: Dial telephones didn’t exist until 1919
  • Transistor: wasn’t invented until 1928 and wasn’t designed and widely implemented until the '50s
  • Airplane: The first commercial jet went from Lonon to Johannesburg in 1954

That’s just the short list of big ticket items that come to mind. That alone is quite a list. Think about the progress (or damage?) that has been done in our world over the course of 101 years. It makes me feel very, very small in comparison. It also inspires me in ways that are hard to describe in words.

What other innovations or awe inspiring events happened in the last 101 years that you think are worth adding to the list?

I remember being very amazed that people were alive when my grandparents (and parents) were young who had experienced the civil war. That STILL really blows my mind…

It ended in 1865 and someone who was 5 at the end of the war would have been 75 in 1940!

Cool topic!

another one is that my grandfather was in Europe during WWII and took films of lots of areas. One has horse drawn carriage filling Roman streets, in front of the colleseum, etc… and I dont know if it was comepletely because of the war

One has horse drawn carriage filling Roman streets

Automobiles probably blow my mind more than most. I look at things like 6 lane per direction super highways being cram-packed with cars during rush hour and think that only 100 years ago these highways didn’t exist, let alone the cars.

I also am awed when I taxi out onto the tarmac in a plane, or in LAX when I had to take a bus across to the prop-jet gate, and being in awe at the sheer enormity of the system that is an airport.

That stuff didn’t just appear, and it was all designed and built within someone’s lifetime. Inspiring and diminutizing (is that a word?) stuff.

Think of everything that has changed in our lifetime:


Phones>>> from de-centralization of Bell (remember how few phone style where available) to many Americans having mobile phones that do way more than just be a phone.

E-mail>>> how much longer will the post office exist? 25 years? 50 years?

IM>>> new ways to communicate for new generations


The internet>>> combining information and communication. The ability to bank online, pay most bills online, research subjects, quickly cross reference information, and connect with people with similar interest.

Portable computing>>> effectively shrinking an office full of files into a silver rectangle and giving you the ability to take all your data with you to meetings wherever and the ability to work remotely.

ATM machines>>> it is still amazing to me to travel overseas without a dime in my pocket, walk up to an ATM in the airport and access my bank account to get foreign currency.

Think of what will happen in the next 50 years!

Satellites absolutely blow me away. Being able to pinpoint an exact location anywhere on earth and view it in the smallest detail…Thats nuts

CCTV - massive in England - dont know the stats but being seen on CCTV however many time a day is not good imo

“The change from atoms to bits is irrevocable and unstoppable.” (Being Digital, Nicholas Negroponte, 1995)

There’s a powerful message in there for Industrial Designers.