It happened a hundred years ago this past Saturday. On January 18, 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt and King Edward VII of the United Kingdom, exchanged greeting is a transatlantic radio broadcast. It was an amazing day. It was historic. For the first time in the history of humankind the heads of two nations spoke directly to each other over the airways. It was a marvelous accomplishment on the road of scientific accomplishment. Who could have imagined where this technology would go from there?
My mind is filled with happy memories as I think back over my having been witness to this wondrous development. The evolvement of this communication technology has defined my life in many ways.
It was but a mere forty years or so following the King’s and President’s “Hello” that I first sat before this large box in our den. As I sat there I watched a small glass screen on which appeared the image of humans talking, dancing, playing musical instruments, joking and laughing, on my daddy’s newest toy, the television. Oh, how I remember that television. I remember the many trips to the roof where I twisted the big antenna to the direction of my dad. “A little more, just a little more, one more time. Okay, that’s …. Hold on, I think you went too far.” Eventually, the antenna was adjusted to the output of the television station’s signal and we’d all gather in the den to be entertained.
I don’t know how many years later it was, but the day came when Daddy got a new toy. It was, again, a large box. And the large box was a stereo record player. Daddy bought all these stereo records. Once again, it was my task to adjust the thing. He’d put a record on, go sit on the sofa where he’d instruct me to start playing the record. “A little more on the right speaker,” he’d instruct. I’d twist the dial slowly. “Okay, hold it,” he say as the two of us listened to the trumpets coming from the right speaker and the violins from the left. For Daddy it was heaven. For me it was a never-ending task of dial twisting.
In the years following would come the eight-track cassette. Oh, how Daddy loved the eight-track. Then came those small cassettes. Daddy had thousands of them, I mean that literally; he had thousands of them.
We’ve come a long way since that first transatlantic exchange. This morning I paid my phone bill. I did it by taking out my cell phone and accessing my bank account. Once there I clicked on the phone company, typed in the correct amount and clicked “pay.” Oh, my goodness, Daddy would have been totally astounded.
I wish Daddy had been there the other day when, in a distant city, I sat in a lobby waiting an appointment. I took out the same cell phone and watched a movie, and I didn’t have to adjust the antenna. How far we’ve come.
The technology developed over the last hundred years has revolutionized our world. Certainly, it has mine.
Tuesday, Edna, a high school classmate called. Someone gave her my phone number. Edna told me she heard I was now a widower. Then Edna told me she was a widow. Edna not so tactfully suggested that we should get together sometime. On Wednesday, Edna texted me a “selfie.”
Technology has saved me. Daddy would love it.