One evening last week The History Channel showed “101 Gadgets that Changed the World.” It was an hour-long show, thus a pretty fast trip down memory lane for me. Most gadgets’ few seconds were up before I had time to get too nostalgic.
In addition to mentioning all these gizmos, they also briefly told why or how they changed the world. Some were easy to see — like duct tape. How would we live without that? Or the match, personal computer, zipper? The transistor radio was credited with the popularity of rock and roll. I’m not sure why. Maybe because it made the teens and their music mobile, got them out of the reach of their parents?
The Smart Phone was deemed the number 1 gadget that has changed the world. And while the Smart Phone hasn’t changed my life yet, I can see how others might think it number one.
The item that really caught my attention and brought back memories was the ball point pen. Eversharp, maker of mechanical pencils, introduced the ballpoint pen to the United States in 1945. It cost about $10., which is comparable to $100 today. Nowadays they are given away free as promotions.
These pens must have become more affordable in the 50’s because I remember seeing them in the stationery stores with the school supplies. They cost about the same as any fountain pen. The big sales pitch was that the ballpoint pens wouldn’t leak (supposedly) or smear.
However, my teachers at Denison High School made it clear that they would not accept work in ballpoint pen. It had to be written in real ink.
An example of people resisting change, even when it might be for the better.
I also worked for a company in the middle 80s that refused to follow the electronics fads. They said they would never computerize. Guess what? They did.