Astounding Technology

A switchboard operator moved these cables around to connect telephone callers.  This switchboard is on display at the Agricultural Hall of Fame in Bonner Springs, Kansas.

In the early days of the telephone, a switchboard operator would move these cables around to connect telephone callers. This switchboard is on display at the Agricultural Hall of Fame in Bonner Springs, Kansas.

Beloit College in Wisconsin recently released its annual Mindset List, which shows the kind of world that incoming freshmen grew up in. For example, to the class of 2012, GPS has always been available, phones always had caller ID and tax returns could always be filed online (not that these students were doing their own taxes.)  You can see the list at

I wrote about some of the technological advances that amazed me as a child in this article (below), published Aug. 5, in the Kansas City Star. My own children, who are in their early 20s, can’t even imagine (or don’t want to, anyway) a world without computers, microwave ovens or cell phones.  It was rough, I tell you!



Filed under Communication, Education, Family, Humor, Life, Technology, Uncategorized

6 responses to “Astounding Technology

  1. I can remember the first time my father came home with a calculator – it was enormous, huge, and very expensive…now they’re given away free in cereal boxes!
    Likewise, my eldest son’s first pc – an Amstrad – we spent ages trying to get this little hoppy thing to jump higher, the first game and more often enough it crashed just as you thought you’d mastered the technique!
    And where would we be without mobiles – forever contactable, whatever we’re doing, where ever we are – except the farm, we have no signal!
    But Cathy I don’t have a microwave, and don’t ever want one – I’ll stick with my Aga!

  2. Catherine Sherman

    Paula, yes, mobile phones are great, because they allow us to be mobile and still be in contact with anyone anywhere, even though I hate to talk on the phone. I like the idea that I can, if I want to. We have our mobile phone dead zones here, too….even around the Sprint Headquarters. When my son visits, he talks to his girlfriend while roaming the front sidewalk late at night. He says the reception is better there — the privacy, too, I say.

    I like to cook veggies in the microwave — just a little zap in the same bowl I eat from. They still have a little crunch. No heating up the kitchen in summer, no cooking pans to clean. Also, it’s great for heating up soup in your bowl when you make a big batch of soup in the winter. Do I sound lazy?

    We’ve had a couple of magnetic induction cooktops, which we loved, but they are very finicky and hard to get fixed when they break, which is often. Maybe I would cook more if I had an Aga stove — or I maybe not, but I’d definitely huddle next to it in winter when I’m freezing.

    I loved your jam and biscuit (scone?) photos.

  3. The operator switch board reminds me of the old sketches on Laugh In with Lily Tomlin playing an operator. I was about 7 then.

  4. Ah yes, you can glimpse the Aga behind the jam and scones – interesting, what we call biscuits are cookies to you. Here we think of biscuits as harder, thinner, flatter (they’re often called cookies now though – trans-Atlantic exchange). I often wondered, when I read books about America, and there is mention of biscuits being made for breakfast and always with the main meal – I guess they are more scone-like and most probably raised with baking soda?

  5. Catherine Sherman

    Paula, yes, biscuits are scone-like and made with baking powder or baking soda. They’re smaller than scones and usually round, cut out with a cookie cutter or a glass. People have all sorts of secrets to make them light and fluffy, like not working the dough too much or making sure the shortening is the right temperature. The only ones I’ve ever made were from a mix….Bisquick, in fact. I don’t eat them very often. I returned to your scone, cream and jam photos, and I got hungry all over again……Yummy.

  6. We still have our first Walkman and first mobile phone. They look downright comical now. The phone looks like a brick with numbers on it – moreI of a Flintstones version of a phone. It’s even in a heavy plastic cover to “protect” it from the elements. I remember we paid over $300 for the Sony and “shared” it as we drove from California to New York in 1981. FYI: I never got over the fact that my parents were too cheap to get me the Princess phone.

    My parents nixed a Princess phone, too. What meanies! And what a great marketing tool it was to name a phone Princess. Who wouldn’t want to be a princess? Cathy

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