Favorite Era in Technology

14

What is everyone’s favorite era in technology?

Mine is

The early-mid 2000s

Palm PDAs

Flip phones

Windows XP

Plasticky laptops and towers

Pentium 4 and AMD Athlon fight

A tamer, simpler internet. No social media like we have today.

Comments (14)

14 responses to “Favorite Era in Technology”

  1. dftf

    Yeah, I'd probably say the mid-to-late 90s up-to the late 2000s.


    Windows and macOS were both more exciting then: Windows had the merger of the 98SE/Me and 2000 codebases into XP, with its new-look. Vista then added loads of new "in-box apps", which 7 then promptly removed in the vein of being lighter-than Vista. And macOS in the past I'd constantly see reviews and articles for each major new version highlighting all the new features, but in recent-years, it seems not-much significant is being added.


    Games-consoles were more-interesting back then, too. Between the PS1, N64, Saturn, PC and GameBoy you clearly had obvious hardware-differences, which sometimes meant entirely different games on every platform (for example, the first two Harry Potter games had five distinct releases: PS1; PS2/GameCube/Xbox; PC/Mac; GameBoy Color; Gameboy Advance). Thesedays, Xbox Series and PS5 games look virtually-identical; the same games on PC and Mac will generally look-better and allow for faster FPS; and the Switch ports will run at a lower-res and framerate. But they are all essentially the same game. As much as I like some of the stuff Digital Foundry does, for example, is it really that interesting to look at the same game on PS5 and Xbox Series X and note literal 1-2FPS differences between them in key-scenes?


    (It was also nice that games didn't need constant updates then, nor microtransactions, "loot-crates" and all the rest of the stuff we have now! You put the disc or cartridge in and that was that!)


    Sites on the Internet were certainly simpler then, though don't forget the security nightmares that were ActiveX and Macromedia Flash Player (and the scourge of slow-loading websites and noisy, flashy adverts that latter one enabled!). Not to mention all the security risks with both! (And it is great to be done with dial-up, too!)


    I can't remember too-much now about the CPUs of that era, but the most-exciting thing that happened around the mid-to-late 2000s was the introduction of dual-core CPUs, finally ending the "megahertz race". Though thesedays clearly what Apple is doing with their own Silicon is worth-watching, though not-exactly something others couldn't copy. You just have to ask yourself "am I happy to gain speed by having the RAM part of the same chip, or do I want it to remain user-upgradable, and so on an external bus?". I'd argue that for most average users they likely never upgrade the RAM, so the speed-boost would be better.


    TV was certainly a lot-simpler in that time too -- your only main choice was "shall I get a 4:3 CRT TV or a 16:9 one" and "how many SCART inputs does it have, and is one an RGB one". Until Freeview came along, here in the UK there were five free-to-air channels (BBC1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4, 5ive) and Sky was about your only subscription option. Now, there are too-many different streaming-services and some will inevitably fail as people can't afford them all!


    That-said, some things thesedays are simpler. Take installing Windows. Back in the 90s, you'd have to create a bootable floppy-disk with a CD-ROM driver, run FDISK, create your Primary Partition, set it as Active, reboot, boot from the floppy again, format the partition you created, then run Windows Setup. It took until Windows Me to finally have all CDs be bootable without a floppy. Vista and onwards' setups are far-easier. And updating Windows post-install is much-easier too. No more Service Packs then 100s of updates to do; just create the latest install-media, and once it's installed, you'll only have about five-to-six updates to install (not counting drivers) to bring it up-to-date.

  2. dftf

    It's interesting though to reflect on how some things have become simpler or standardised over-time though.


    Take video-formats: back-then you had LaserDisc, VCD, VHS, S-VHS and DVD (and some other, obscure ones). Only DVD still exists now, and being cheaper, still outweighs Blu-Ray for sales. And on the digital-side, gone are all the obscure formats like QuickTime video, RealVideo, WMV and so-on. Get a video-file thesedays and it'll likely just be H.264 or H.265, and in future, AV1. And unlike in the past where many apps didn't support most codecs, thesedays VLC or MPC-HC play virtually everything.


    Or similarly, audio-formats: vinyl has made somewhat of a comeback, but cassette and Minidisc aren't much-around: most people just play digital-files on their PCs, laptops, tablets or phones (or use streaming-services). And many obscure audio-formats of the past -- such as Monkey's Audio, Musepack, OGG Vorbis, Opus, RealAudio and WMA -- have all-but disappeared, with MP3, AAC and FLAC all you see now (maybe Apple Lossless too, if you live in that world, or buy from iTunes; and MIDI still lives on). Far-simpler times now!

  3. rob_segal

    The current era of technology is my favorite. I look upon my answer through the lens of what I can do now. My book, audiobook, music, and movie libraries are in my pocket. A great camera is in my pocket. I can't pick a previous era of technology as a favorite for the sole reason of modern-day smartphones. Also, tablets have never been better because of the iPad.


    Shifting over to computers, the Apple Silicon Macs are excellent. Its combination of performance, battery life, and portability is the stuff of imagination years and decades ago. The diversity and quality of Windows PC are great, too. The nostalgia of older PCs is great until you pick up a PC like the latest HP Spectre x360, Yoga 9i, XPS 13 or 15.


    Gaming consoles have never been better. Xbox Game Pass is fantastic and Sony's upcoming improved game subscription service will be great, too. Having access to that many games at an affordable monthly price with 4k quality is truly fun.


    Nostalgia is a hell of a drug until you go back in time and miss everything you have now.

    • dftf

      The examples you give are certainly valid, though thesedays not-only do we have the social-media platforms and the issues they bring, but also the various tech-companies have all grown to unmanageable sizes too. Not to mention the scourge that is ransomware, the "solution-in-search-for-a-problem" that is NFTs, and the planet-sapping cryptocurrency-mining. I'm not a fan of some "software-as-a-service" offerings too -- it was nice to be able to pay for something once in the past and then just own a perpetual licence. Yes, new-features get added, but if they're just trivial things, what are you paying for?


      Plus, while we have reduced end-user confusion in many areas via standardisation (e.g. modern devices will connect only via USB or Bluetooth, not also via Parallel, Serial, DIN or PS/2; and for video-output, gone are S-Video, VGA, DVI and (largely) DisplayPort, with HDMI the clear-winner), there are still issues within the standards themselves, such as the various USB 3.x and HDMI revisions and confusion over which devices and cables support which.


      There are other areas too thesedays I prefer: the games-console emulation scene is leaps-and-bounds over where it was, with most consoles pre-2000s near-perfect for most games. Modern phone-games work better than the clunky "feature-phone" games coded in mobile-Java (J2ME?) which rarely worked the same on different handset models. Modern Internet and networking is far-simpler than the real legacy stuff like "token-ring" networks (well, until you start dealing with IPv6 addresses anyway!).

      • rob_segal

        Social media platforms have their downsides. There is a lot of nonsense, disrespectful noise, and misinformation. Those things existed before social media ever existed. They're not new. The positive side to social media platforms can't be ignored though. There's never been more ways and avenues to engage with more people and read first-person perspectives on any topic or world event. The creativity of people on social media is enjoyable to see. It's not all bad. Social media is what you make of it and I would rather have its positives and ignore its negatives than never have social media at all. Being able to share memories and photos with friends from long ago and friends you just met, message people around the world, instantly have access to the thoughts of thousands of people on every event or subject, connect with content creators, news reporters, news makers, and companies, these are benefits I would rather have than not.

    • sammyd710730

      Out of curiosity, what digital service do you use for books? I have a Surface Pro 7 and I'd like to start using it more to read digital books, but I've never really delved into that realm yet so I don't know what a good service is for that yet.

      • rob_segal

        I use Amazon Kindle for ebooks. I have an S22 Ultra and a Note 10+ before that. That is what I use as an ebook reader. If you want to use a Surface Pro 7, your best bet may be the Kindle Cloud Reader but as far as I know, there's no offline mode.

  4. navarac

    I liked when I first got a mobile phone (I was over 40!). But now? Not so. I hate the "cannot get away" from the damn thing.


    One thing I'd "uninvent" would be social-media of all ilks. Dangerous.

  5. wright_is

    Early-mid 1980s, ever changing technologies, terminals with proper keyboards. Techtronix hi-res terminals connected to a VAX and a custom 3D terminal as well.


    Laser plotter with 1200dpi burning onto A0 film, which was washed in liquid gold (the waste from the process paid for a mega Christmas party). It had its own darkroom, with revolving blackout door and its own Olivetti mini-computer to act as a print spooler.


    You knew your hardware inside out. When I went to college, we had a double period (1 hour 10 minutes) to write a simple program in BASIC, to allow the lecturers to assess how much knowledge we had. I had mine finished in 10 minutes and spent the rest of the period writing machine code to draw windows on the display (CBM Pet with 40x20 character graphics), display the input at the top in large (8x8 block characters) and in the bottom window, the results in graphic form. The lecturer took one look at the running program and exclaimed, "wow, I never knew you could do that with a computer!" And, I thought, I was the one who was there to learn!


    The late 80s and early 90s were also great. Amiga at home and travelling to clients meant a few hours in the car, listening to plays or music on the radio and being out of contact, until you arrived. A great way to relax and prepare yourself for the visit.

  6. yaddamaster

    1993-2003


    The pace of change was breathtaking. Hardware capabilities were growing exponentially while prices were constantly dropping. I remember getting a 2gb hard drive for what I thought was an incredible price and wondering how much lower prices could go. Yeah.


    The OS wars were in full swing. MS began to leave DOS behind and Win95 came out. It was a revolutionary game changer. MS office was a game changer. Everything was exciting.


    You could get into tech and coding with little to no background and quickly climb the ranks.


    It was an exciting time.


    I do like where we are at now......but the pace of change has slowed dramatically (imho), prices are stagnant or climbing, and everything is now politicized. It's just not that fun anymore.

  7. jchampeau

    This is a great question/thread! I'm going with mid to late 90s. It was my late teens/early 20s and I worked at a computer shop. I got a pager and then my first cell phone--a Motorola bag phone--and it was pretty much the best thing ever invented. Or so I thought at the time. It was also a time where I began making my own money and could buy things like Microtek scanners, printers that were not dot matrix, video cards with more than 4mb of video memory, etc. And in 2000 (I think), I was in the first round of orders for Southwestern Bell DSL service. I thought 1.5 Mbps was screaming!

  8. Dan

    Early 2000's. Handheld PC's, Mac OS X came out, Linux coming of age, 32-64 bit, Windows 2000 / XP, Broadband internet.

  9. arnstarr

    1979 to 1985. 8 bit life forever.

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