In Baby Boomers' Defense: In the Beginning

In Baby boomers' defense , typewriter, laptop, comparison,

In the first installment of our new series “In Baby Boomers’ Defense”, we will discuss how Baby Boomers witnessed the slow initial growth of technology, and how when it sped up, they struggled to keep up, rightfully so.

  • They grew up with landline phones readily available in their homes.
  • They got to use an important part of telecommunications history, the Telex.
  • They are experts at faxing documents. Apparently, Gen Z workers lost their minds when asked to fax something.

Baby Boomers are notoriously bad at operating their phones, often asking their children for help. But why is that? Is it because they refuse to change? Or is it born out of genuine incapability to assimilate new information fluidly?

As a child of two baby boomers (1946-1964), let me tell you, having them for parents makes for a lot of funny moments, especially as they interact with new technology. To this day, they will forget their phones in the most random places in the house. Imagine finding your mom’s phone behind the TV, not in front of it but behind it, with no further explanation. But who can blame them? Modern technology was slowly developing at the start but once that pandora’s box opened, it was a race to catch up.

In Baby Boomers’ Defense, They Witnessed Their Fair Share

Depending on where they are in the world, boomers bore witness to some of the pillars of technology without which you and I wouldn’t be interacting right now.

1876’s Landline

We all know what a landline is, right? RIGHT? Unlike mobile phones, you couldn’t talk on the phone hanging from the monkey bars in your backyard. It relies on metal wires or optical fiber telephone wires for transmission. And if you had more than one corded landline telephone in your house, good luck finding privacy! In our home, we still have an operational landline to this day. But when I moved away for university and would visit my friends, I found it so weird that they didn’t have one. I can’t imagine the disconnect baby boomers experienced when it stopped being a household staple. If anything, they are the main reason that that industry hasn’t gone out of business.

1930s’ Telex

The telex network uses telegraph-grade connecting circuits for two-way text-based messages. It is indeed a station-to-station switched network of teleprinters similar to a telephone network. Post WWII, this invention rose in popularity as it allowed the exchange of electronic messages between businesses. And it remained at the top until the 1980s when it got dethroned by the fax machine.

1964’s Fax

The elusive fax machine (also known as a facsimile or a telecopier) transmitted through the phone scanned-in printed material (text or images), usually to a telephone number linked to a printer or other output device. In an ironic twist, a 2022 article from The Times reported that Generation Z (1995-2012) workers experience burnout and frustration over “outdated technology” like fax machines and photocopiers. That’s karma for us, youngsters, huh?

Final Thoughts

In Baby Boomers’ defense, while these were pillars of technology in their own right, they are far from the technology with which the subsequent generations grew up.  But we mustn’t forget that most of what we enjoy and rely on today was made by baby boomers. The biggest examples are Apple, the World Wide Web, and Windows program.

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