This Memorial Day, I spent some time remembering just how lucky I am to live in the United States and how the sacrifices of many others, including some people I know, have helped to make this possible. I hope you did too. The dedicated and brave men and women of the US military who have enabled this life that we all enjoy are certainly worthy of our respect and appreciation.
Then it occurred to me — a large number of similarly dedicated pioneers have been responsible for the technology that we use everyday — you know, the stuff that we often take for granted. I don’t mean to imply that these technology pioneers have sacrificed anything close to what our military personnel have done. However, a moment or two of appreciation for the efforts of our technology pioneers is appropriate — especially since some of this same technology is relied upon by our military personnel to keep themselves, and us, safe.
So, here’s a list of some of the technology that I’m thankful for (in no particular order):
- BBN — for their work on Arpanet which eventually became the internet.
- Xerox Labs — for their user interface and user interaction work (including the “mouse”) that established the basis for the way we use computers today
- IBM — for defining and publishing the specifications for the Personal Computer so that a multitude of vendors could create interchangeable parts that all worked together.
- Intel — for all of the CPUs that have been incorporated into the countless personal computers and embedded systems.
- Microsoft — for providing a multiple window operating system with a consistent user interface that made it easier for millions and millions of people to use computers.
- Apple — for providing truly easy to use computers and forcing others to spend even more time improving the ease of use of their computers (and applications).
- Cisco (and all of the other networking companies) — for providing high-speed network equipment that makes it possible (and affordable) for individual people to have high-speed access to almost everything on the internet.
- Google (and all of the other search companies) — for making it possible for individual users to “find” almost anything.
- HP (and other printer companies) — for making it possible for companies and individuals like me to easily and cheaply print almost anything that you could imagine.
- Computervision (and the other early CAD companies) — who made it possible for companies to digitally design, modify, and manufacture a wide range of products much more quickly and accurately than before.
- CJ Date (and other early relational database proponents) — who did the research that resulted in the relational database products that nearly every system that we use today rely on.
- NASA — for developing the technology that put all of the satellites we depend on in space.
I’m sure this list is nowhere near comprehensive, but now it’s your turn. What technologies are you thankful for because they have helped define and/or shape your life, environment, or even your profession?