As the first decade of the new millennium draws to a close, I reflect back on all of the good things I have: health, happiness and my family top the list. But there is more. Without technology, I would not be happy.
I am grateful to be living at a time when technology abounds; when one innovation is topped by the next. Most likely those who lived in Edison's time felt the same way. Electricity was new to the world. There was the telephone and the light bulb. It must have been quite an exciting time to be alive, as it is today.
Twenty years ago, no one had a cell phone and all but a few had a personal computer. What will the next 20 years bring? I often wonder.
So I give thanks to technology and to those who were inspired to create the devices we live with and couldn't live without.
Einstein once said that imagination was more important than knowledge. Without the imagination of the following people, where would we be today?
Charles Babbage was a British mathematician who in 1856 came up the concept of programmable machines. Then 80 years later, along came another Brit, Charles Turing, who built a computer-like device that cracked German codes in World War II.
It was John Eckert and John Mauchly who built E.N.I.A.C., the original computer in 1946. It filled a huge room and took a crew to run it. It was the first, and the first to become obsolete. After 10 years, there was a better mousetrap. Thanks guys.
This brings us to the era of the personal computer. It was Ed Roberts who designed the Altair 8800 in 1975. It sold for a mere $400 and came in kit form. They were not the kits of today. You had to solder the motherboard yourself. You got a box of diodes, capacitors and transistors with a sheet of instructions. Thanks, Ed.
I also feel thanks are due to Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniac at Apple for coming up with the Graphical User Interface that began with the Mac in 1976, and is used by most computers today.
In 1975, the partnership of Bill Gates and Paul Allen created Microsoft and Windows. I thank Microsoft for coming out with Windows, especially Version 7. The world needed something to replace its predecessor Vista, in a bad way.
Then came alternative operating systems.
It was Linus Tovalds, a Finnish graduate student who came up with a thesis of Linux, a portable operating system in 1990. It is now an open-source (free) alternative to Windows or Mac the world over. There are dozens of distros or distributions, as they are called.
This brings me to Vic Hayes, the father of wi-fi. Without him, even laptops would still be tethered to a cable. Thanks, Vic.
What a bunch of brainiacs these guys were and are.
Alternative browsers like Firefox, Safari, Opera, and then Chrome came about. We were no longer forced to use Internet Explorer.
Google appeared. I love Google. I give thanks for the opportunity to look up anything, at any time and get as many answers as I want.
Everything seemed to happen quickly after that. Windows evolved. Wireless was omnipresent. Everyone had a Web page, then a blog. They instant-messaged. They texted. They Twittered. They posted comments to their profile.
I am not grateful for Facebook. Frankly, I could live without it. It's nice, but really, I don't need it.
What I am grateful for is the ability to block certain entries from my Facebook home page and the ability to delete things I had written in haste.
I like my desktop. After all, I built it. But I really like my laptop. So I give thanks to those who take big things and make them smaller. I am grateful to be able to check my email in bed or at the kitchen table, should I desire.
I am extremely thankful for my spam filter. Free enterprise and freedom of speech are great, but I get a ton of junk email. At least this way I don't have to look at it.
Finally, I am grateful to my wife, Teressa, who encourages me every two weeks to come up with yet another column and my daughter, Rachel, who proofreads them for me. It is truly a family effort.
Also, I am grateful for the opportunity The Times has given me over the past three years by providing a forum for my thoughts.
I thank you my readers, for letting me share them with you.
So where would we be without all of those inventions and innovations? We'd be giving the postal service more business - we'd all be writing letters, reading actual books and newspapers. Landlines, pay phones and typewriters - anyone remember them?
Sure, we could live without all of the technological advances. But who wants to?
Arthur Glazer is a freelance writer and computer technician in Gainesville. His column appears biweekly. Arthur welcomes your computer questions and ideas for future columns.