With each new wave of technological advancement it is difficult to remember what life was like before the “old” technology dominated. Think about the Walkman. At the time it was invented it offered people the chance to take their music or audiobooks with them wherever they went. The first generation of Walkman were quite clunky but they soon learnt how to make them smaller.
Then came the compact disc, offering the chance to skip to a particular track and a better sound quality. Soon the cassette Walkman was forgotten. In the same way, the CD Walkman or Discman was soon made obsolete by the MP3 player. These devices offered the chance to listen to several albums, all within a device no bigger than a packet of cigarettes.
Now we have what seems like the world at our fingertips, quite literally. We are able to listen to our entire music collection, download new tracks on the move, watch music on YouTube or TV, look up any information we choose about the artists on the internet all on a device that happens to be our phone, camera, email centre among many more other applications.
Have you ever wondered what makes these things possible. The continual advancement is in no small part down to the army of scientists and inventors who have a thirst to continually make things better. Paul Eisler in 1936 created the first printed circuit board (PCB). These are the electronic inner workings that have enabled devices to become smaller and offer increasingly more functionality. Without them we would not have even been able to see the development of the first Walkman all those years ago. Since then, inventors have developed and redeveloped more and more ways to improve the minute technology that we take for granted each and every day.
Try to imagine having to explain what your smartphone can do to someone who fell asleep in the 1980’s and has just woken up! They would think you were quite mad. When inventing the radio, Marconi was almost sectioned and sent to a mental hospital as no-one could understand the concept of radio waves and their use in communication. Thankfully, he wasn’t and radio was one of the technologies that changed the world for the better.
So, next time you pick up your phone, listen to some music on your MP3 player or do anything that has electronic devices involved, even if it is the washing, think about the fact it was all made possible with some very clever people and the little old printed circuit board!