Information Overload

Information Overload


Do you remember those black telephones with a dial? We would run to the hall when it rang, which was very infrequently. The hall was cold and draughty and the cord did not reach as far as the bottom stair, so no-one stayed on the phone for more than a moment or so. The telephone was for imparting important information such as “the train was cancelled, so I will be late for dinner”. It was not for chatting for hours catching up with friends.

I was surprised to find that phones were invented in the late 1880s. Did not realise it was that long ago, but how they have changed! From the dial to a keypad, from landline to mobile, at first too heavy to carry to now a tiny light-weight friend to go everywhere with you, without whom you do not feel safe. Gracious, people used to go round the world and not be heard of for months or more, and now we panic if we can’t let home know that we’ve not been able to get the takeaway.

Not only the phone itself of course. Now in addition to the telephone network, we have things like Facetime, WhatsApp, Zoom, Skype, Messenger, Hangouts and probably lots more I don’t know about. And so we prattle on for hours about not-a-lot.


I learnt to type on a manual sit-up-and-beg typewriter, then an electric typewriter where the letters jumped to the screen as soon as I rested my fingers on the home keys, next an electronic typewriter with a one-line display which you could correct before you hit return. Then Word Processor, a pre-runner of the desktop computer before, at last, the birth of the home computer. Mine was a small cube, an early MAC.

I was British Caledonian Airways’ first Word Processor operator. Floppy discs of course. I remember going to NASA at Houston and seeing the rows and rows of computers each about the size of a washing machine, linked together to handle the space flights. I think around 1977.

The magnetic tapes were less than one megabyte storage for mainframes in the very early 1950s. And the discs were at least 12inches/30cms diameter and more than a half inch/cm thick.

We went from the Quill to Celluloid in a moment or two!


Early cave art and the decoration of the tombs in ancient Egypt were early recordings of life. Eventually cameras provided a means of capturing events. 

Now I’ve got more computing power on my mobile than was in the Lunar Landing module, as well as a fine camera for recording and sending immediately. I’ve got Skype and WhatsApp to talk to my family across the miles. And I’ve got a website and Blog that sits who-knows-where!

Our technology is changing at the Speed of Light