Communications Advances In A Short Lifetime

Kids born in this century are constantly walking and talking with a smartphone or other small instant sound and sight device. It’s as natural as breathing to that generation.

Most don’t even think about the enormous progress in the science of individual communications in just a few decades. I marvel about it constantly, and every day brings more amazing ways to see, talk and listen to the world around us.

An early recollection is attending a movie as a three-year-old with my dad. The only sound was music in the theater performed live on an organ. On-screen the actors’ lips moved, but there was only silence and printed words. Just a year later, the first sounds came from theater screens as Al Jolson sang.

Since then, movie viewing has expanded from theater to home TV, the internet and beyond. Any time I choose, by keying into YouTube or other free or pay online service, I can watch almost any movie ever produced, including the 1929, “The Jazz Singer”, when Jolson introduced talkies.

Further, I can enjoy it from the comfort of my home on a TV far different from my first bulky 1949 one. It had a seven-inch screen offering only in fuzzy black and white images from just three local TV stations. Now the screen is 60 or more inches wide, with full-color and lifelike, sharp focus on endless stations.

I can see movies and video everywhere, including on a SmartPhone during my morning jog. To a 21st Century-born teenager, all of this is just the way things are. To someone at my advanced age, each new scientific communications advance is a welcome and enjoyable miracle.

As a small child, I listened to radio music with the family in our living room. We sat around a large piece of elegant mahogany furniture, topped by a wind-up record player. Favorites ranged from Enrico Caruso to Louis Armstrong. By the mid-20th Century, records had been replaced by tapes, then CDs, DVDs and now digital files.

With continuing advancements in sound and sight entertainment, we can only guess what the next scientific surprises will be.

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