Technological Progress

Remote Control



From 1961, a commercial for the RCA “Wireless Wizard”.  Not the first wireless remote, that title goes to the Zenith Flash-matic in 1955.  Remote controls are an interesting example of fairly rapid transition of technology from experimental into mass production.  The above commercial seems rather over the top to modern sensibilities, but the development of a mass market for electronics gave a strong peace time impetus to technological development.  My father initially denounced remote controls as toys for lazy rich people.  When we got one after prices came down and the technology was perfected, it was practically impossible to pry it from his hands!  Various revolutions during my lifetime have seized public attention, but the continuous technological revolutions of the last six decades probably will prove the most long lasting.

Of Encyclopedia Britannica and Buggywhips

I do all of my research online, and increasingly most of my reading.  However, I am one of the children of the expiring age of the book, and therefore it is with sadness that I note this story:

After 244 years, the Encyclopaedia Britannica is going out of print.

Those coolly authoritative, gold-lettered reference books that were once sold door-to-door by a fleet of traveling salesmen and displayed as proud fixtures in American homes will be discontinued, company executives said.

In an acknowledgment of the realities of the digital age — and of competition from the Web site Wikipedia — Encyclopaedia Britannica will focus primarily on its online encyclopedias and educational curriculum for schools. The last print version is the 32-volume 2010 edition, which weighs 129 pounds and includes new entries on global warming and the Human Genome Project. Continue reading

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