Outdated Technology: Embracing the Future

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Younger generations often lack familiarity with outdated technology, making it difficult for them to fully embrace the future.

  • Analog television receives a signal containing video and audio information, converts it into electrical signals, and displays it on a CRT display.
  • Floppy disks use magnetic particles on a disk’s surface to store data, and a read/write head in a disk drive reads and writes data to the disk.
  • Fax machines scan a document and convert it into electrical signals, which are then sent over a telephone line to a receiving fax machine, where the signals are decoded and printed out.

When I switched majors, I kept forgetting that I was a couple of years older than my peers and I had better knowledge of outdated technology. So, you can imagine my surprise when most of them didn’t know how to turn on their uninterruptible power supply (UPS) or that most had never held a floppy disk. I mean, that stuff is “Stationary Computer 101,” so there shouldn’t be any problems, right?

That’s when it hit me: those are full-blown Gen Z students with almost no influence from Millennials.

Analog Television

My mother’s fondest memories of her childhood include when there was one analog TV in the whole neighborhood and the owners made it accessible to everyone on special occasions.

Before the advent of modern TV, there were heavy boxes that received signals from antennas or cables. These signals contained radio waves carrying video and audio information. It then separates the two and converts them into analog electrical signals. Afterward, they are sent to the cathode ray tube (CRT) display, where they are converted into visible images and sound. The display then showcases an image created by varying the intensity of the electron beam corresponding to the brightness and color of the image.

Floppy Disks

Now these I remember! A floppy disk is a thin, flexible plastic disk coated with a magnetic material that stores data by magnetizing particles on the disk’s surface. It is inserted into a disk drive containing a read/write head that, as the name implies, reads and writes data to the disk. When data is saved, the head magnetizes particles on the disk’s surface to represent the data. When the data is retrieved, the read/write head detects the magnetic pattern and converts it back into the original data.

Fax Machine

And for the pièce de résistance, the ever-elusive fax machine! I remember seeing this one at my mother’s work but not being able to understand how it works. To send a fax, the document is placed face down on the machine’s scanning surface. It then scans the document and converts the content of the document into electrical signals. Once done, the machine dials the receiving fax machine’s phone number and sends the signals over the telephone line. The receiving device decodes them and prints out a copy of the original document.

Today, digital transmission methods (e.g., email) has largely replaced this outdated technology. But some industries still use them for legal or security purposes.

Final Thoughts

You are reading this on state-of-the-art devices. But before you could carry the world around in your pocket, everything was chunky and clunky with too many parts. It is important to understand how far we’ve come so you can truly appreciate what your mind can conjure. Outdated technology is the foundation of today’s world.

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