Evolution of Technology – Internet and Mobile
Technology has fascinated everyone – from kids to the elderly – and will probably never cease to amaze us due to its evolutionary nature. I was searching for an ethernet cable in my drawer so that I could configure the router to use it with my Iphone 3G. And I stumbled upon this brilliant piece of artifact: the Dial-up modem! Not just any other modem, but a 3Com US Robotics 56K modem with fax, answering machine, etc. This will sound funny to many in the high-tech community today when we speak of Gigabit (1Gigabits/sec=1000Megabits/sec) connection on broadband and over 300 Megabits/sec on the next-generation wireless networks.
About ten years ago in the year 2000, I had purchased my first computer which was a Windows 98 PC. Thanks to Bill Gates for visiting India and enlightening us about the DOT com revolution, resulting in a huge influx of computers and peripherals in the Asian market. This PC was the latest and the greatest then. With a Pentium III 350 MHz processor, 64GB RAM, 8GB hard disk, and a 4MB AGP graphics card, it was the best thing I could ask for to make all of my friends jealous! It was not until about a year that I first bought an internet connection and this modem, thinking I would have an edge over the others. The noisy dial-up connection used to drop occasionally and it took 5 hours to download a 5-minute MP3 song (~5MB) on Napster, only if you left it running overnight. Hearing of super fast megabit, T1 and LAN connections in the US only made us feel bad. I recall playing Need for Speed II with my friends on dial-up followed by the chat revolution of ICQ, MSN and Yahoo messengers. By the way, pornographic sites were banned by the government but we found ways around it. The telephone bills just got longer and longer but fun never stopped.
Today, I am sitting on the same study table, the table where I used to open up my PC and tinker with the processor and RAM cards. But what has changed? I see sleek high-end laptops with dual core processors, 4GB RAM, Wi-Fi, USB, built-in webcam/speakers/mic, dvd burner, remote control, cap-sense buttons, and finger-print scanners. By the side, there is a 30W RMS (330W PMPO) state-of-the-art Altec Lansing speaker-system with a sub-woofer powerful enough to resonate my bedroom windows and an all-in-one with printer, fax, scanner, copier, connected to the telephone line. More importantly, a VoIP phone with a New York phone number connected to a 54Mbps wireless router on a 2Mbps high-speed broadband connection driven by that same telephone line that once provided dial-up service sits next to it! What’s even more fascinating is that these telephone companies now offer wireless data cards and 3G video telephony services. Which means I can access my bank account on the go and use my credit card, a commodity I could only dream of ten years ago, virtually from anywhere. My Iphone works now, it just needed the DNS server’s IP address.
Ten years ago, the 56K modem cost me $220. But this 54Mbps Linksys router cost me just $30 today. Does technology get cheaper as it evolves? Is it due to mass production or outsourcing? Let me know your thoughts via comments or email.