The historic monuments of the Classical Era—The Pyramids of Giza, the Acropolis of Athens, the Angkor Wat of Cambodia—are known for their vast size and magnitude, the persistent remnants of antiquity towering over people in the modern-day. While huge structures like the Burj Khalifa are still being conceived, the more relevant historical contributions of this era in human development are not gigantic testaments or buildings. Rather, they are small or intangible objects, devices that let people access an invisible, immaterial world of information and communication. This is an age of portability, where the wealth of humankind’s information can be gleaned and shared on portable technology, from laptops to smartphones. Conveniences such as mobile medical apps for patients give these personal devices a wide range of versatility, earning its ubiquity among the current generation and defining this era as one of instant convenience.
Evolution of Electronic Computing Technology
Before digital technology reached its heights in the 21st Century, the forebears of today’s electronic devices were large, room-sized blocky machines that took up half a room. The ENIAC, unveiled in 1946, is one such computer, considered by many to be the first EDC (electronic digital computer), calculating artillery ballistics for the US. Other computers like the Harvard Mark I and Alan Turing’s Machine were also being developed. In 1958, the circuit chip was invented, ousting the obsolete vacuum tubes used in earlier computers, which saved computer space immensely while paving the way for less bulky computing devices.
Around the 1970’s, the first personal computers were being sold on the market, the first being the MITS Altair 8800. By the 1980’s, more personal computers like the Apple Macintosh were being developed, which then slowly became smaller and more portable. The first laptop was a rectangular machine called Osborne 1, but the first “folding-style” laptop, the Grid Compass, was released in 1982. From then on, laptops became smaller and more practical to carry, finally adopting the modern style of a foldable rectangular device with a flat, integrated keyboard. While the first modern smartphone was developed in the
Today’s Portable Technology
While the first smartphone was developed in the early 1990’s, the Simon Personal Communicator (SPC), and the 2000’s allowed for the integration of the internet on mobile devices, the first modern smartphone, with its apps and touchscreen, was the iPhone. Released in 2007, this brand new device kickstarted the development of all-purpose portable digital technologies, leading to the ubiquity of smartphones today.
Aside from smartphones, other electronic technologies are becoming more portable, most notably medical devices. Just recently, OMRON Healthcare, Inc unveiled the HeartGuide™, the first wearable blood pressure monitor. More portable medical innovations can be expected to see use in the future.
The modern-day is dominated by mobile phones, the answer to humanity’s natural desire to communicate. With that said, how can we take advantage of this age of portability? With the billions of apps being generated by digital companies, a good number of them can be utilized for one’s own health. Many apps such as allergy apps and patient record management software can be easily downloaded. With that said, this age of portable devices is not the final step in technology’s progress, and the future for technology—personal, social or medical—remains ever open for interpretation or improvement.