One of our managers is retiring. We have worked together in the same library for decades and as both our roles have had a technology focus, we have seen a wide range of changes in that time.
As she has been cleaning out her files and organising things for the new manager, she has discovered many interesting things that have been good at reminding us of how far we have come.
The first was a 3 1/2 inch floppy disk. I brought it home to show my children, who couldn’t believe it was so big (well compared to a USB stick to them, to me it was so small compared to a 5 1/4 disk) and that it held so little in terms of capacity. They were also intrigued when I then took it apart to show what it was made of and it reminded me of all the stories of people who had discarded outer covers down to the magnetic tape, who had folded or cut disks to fit them into drives etc.
Then today she showed me an article that I had forwarded to her in 1997, on cable modems and whether they were worth waiting for. One of our biggest concerns now is ensuring we have speedy and reliable Wi-Fi – cable modems were off the agenda for us a long time ago.
We have all in one PCs now at ridiculous screen sizes, compared to our old drives and monitors that were twice the size of the hardware that was using them. Mobile phones were suitcases and now disappear into your hand. We had VDU’s for our library system and OPACs, and although they were as dull as dishwater, they never broke down or were hacked or got viruses. Well most things have improved anyway, lol.
I love where we are now with technology in libraries – we just got our first touch tables, we have mobile devices and specialist computers and software for people to use in the library and that is just scratching the surface.
We have seen a lot of progress in technology in libraries, but it is good to be reminded occasionally just how far that is.
What is the most fascinating ‘blast from the past’ technology that you have come across?