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Technology News Timeline

Consumer Electronics/Communications & Computer Trends  


1958 technology news photo


Timeline Courtesey Gary West I.T. - Computers/Networking/Wireless/Audio/TV In S. California


This is the story of technology as seen through the eyes of the average consumer. Technology is fascinating, captivating and most of us couldn't get along without it. We started with tube technology, but - make no mistake, the transistor changed our lives for without it, we would not have the lifestyle we enjoy today.  This timeline focuses on the changing consumer-side of electronics - starting out with the first color-TV standard through each year, decade - through today. In 1952, tube electronics and b&w television were everywhere - and radio was an AM dial. In the world of records - 78rpm was the most popular phonograph speed - but the smaller 45rpm single was catching up quickly.

By the late 1950's - stereo records were compatible with all record players - and like color-TV - consumers embraced stereo by the early 1970's. For music playback - phonograph records gave way to tapes, compact discs and finally - digital downloads. 

Telephones were changing. Most households had only one phone (usually in the central part of the house) but, by the end of the 1950's, Bell telephone companies were pushing kitchen (hanging) phones. In the 1960's - those cool push-button phones were introduced, and by the end of the 1960's, you could have your own bedroom phone with the "Alone Phone." Outside - we made calls from telephone booths. Cell-phone service was introduced in 1983 and by 2005 - they became multi-media devices. VOIP - a way to transmit voice in real time using data streams and the Internet - began to get incorporated into telephone systems and there's no stopping it. VOIP now threatens to replace the older copper phone lines.  

techology news timeline 1964 telephone  

Television - Thanks to RCA and their subsidary, NBC, a color-tv transmission and receive standard was sanctioned by the FCC in 1953. By 1966 - color-TV programming was everywhere and by the mid-1970's - most TV households had at least one color set. Early over-the-air antenna TV (most viewers could pick up an average of four channels) gave way to... cable.   By the early 1980's - cable-TV penetration gave us dozens of new channel availabilities - making possible, exclusive new cable-TV nets such as CNN, MTV, AMC - and the list grew with each year. By the late 1970's, The VCR now made it possible to tape your favorite TV shows and playback at your convienence. Another delivery method - satellite-TV - began growing during the 1990's. The rooftop TV antenna was disappearing - giving way to a satellite dish or no antenna - with cable. Standard TV (the old NTSC system) gave way to HDTV.  

Audio - From mono record players with speeds of 78, 45 & 33 - we went into stereo: cleaner amplifiers, better turntables with magnetic pick-up cartridges and then, into the various consumer tape formats such as reel-to-reel, 8-track and cassette. From there, consumer audio evolved into into digital compact discs, then - mp3/aac downloads. From mono, stereo - and - during the 1970's, "quad" or 4-channel sound came (but left quickly as the average consumer was getting use to stereo records, tapes and FM radio.) Players such as "Sony Walkman" allowed us to listen to our custom taped music - anywhere.  For recording - we had reel-to-reel, cassette portables and into PC's.  "Surround sound" - although around for quite sometime, began to make consumer inroads during the 1990's. Also, "sub-woofers" - once the province of audio-philes and hi-fi geeks - came into the consumer mainstream during the 1990's - thanks to better (and cheaper) electronics. In the 2000's - the iPod and Mp-3 players brought music playback to a whole new dimension. Radio went from 5 tube AM kitchen radios - to smaller, transistor devices - into FM stereo compact systems and full blown car systems. 

technology news timeline sony walkman 1992 

Computers - with names such as Sperry, Univac and IBM - 1950's/1960's computers were making their way into businessess by way of mainframe and "dumb" terminals. It was IBM's 360 Mainframe computer - introduced in 1964 - which brought automation to more businesses than ever before. And by the 1980's - IBM made personal computers a mainstay because - electronics and software had improved so much - that almost anybody could operate one. You had to know a little about DOS and how to load a floppy disc. The Internet and smart phones weren't too far off. The 1950's TV repairman gave way to the 2010's IT/computer repair-troubleshooter. Hi-tech for consumers began with the IBM PC through through the "smarter" smartphones of today. 

Internet - Although it had been lurking and was only accessible by the government, this secret network of computers of routers began to explode by the mid-1990's - thanks to inventions such as the browser and search engine. What was the first real search engine? The first browser? For the average consumer - the World Wide Web was here - and,  it was transported by, the Internet. PC's & The Internet - The personal computer became a device that was more than the sum of its parts - when online access gained ground around 1994. Besides running local apps such as "Lotus 1-2-3" - you could now access information from the outside. Suddenly, terms such as HTML, modems, www, CD-ROM and later in the decade - mp-3 and blog - came to our lexicon. Bit compression made it easier to send audio over the Internet - and eventually, would allow video steaming and downloads. Now it was possible to have your own Internet radio station - and/or multi-media site.   

What follows is most comprehensive technology news timeline of its kind - the successes, the failures - the changing times.

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