Commentary by Dick Wolfsie
The prevailing attitude among the younger generations is that Baby Boomers are not capable of learning and accepting new technology. Youth today have grown up using computers. Learning that type of skill-set is far easier when you begin at an early age. People of my vintage have not been given the credit they deserve for the successful adaption we made to new technology back in the ’50s and ’60s, such as:
Post-it notes: When these little miracles of paper were first introduced, I quickly learned to peel each one off flawlessly. And then I came up with this great idea of using different-colored slips of paper for different things. This was not in the directions. Of course, Post-its are still used today. I am constantly applying notes to my fridge, desk and mirror. Some habits really stick with you. (Sorry.)
Rolodex: The word “Rolodex” is a combination of the words “rolling file” and “index,” and it was invented in 1956. The idea behind the Rolodex is actually 2,000 years old, but there were no phones then, so there was no point in making one. I was very good with my first Rolodex, meticulously fitting the notched edge of each card into the device. It took an unnecessarily long time to find the numbers I wanted, but then I finally read the directions and realized I needed to arrange the names alphabetically.
Remote control: This gadget was first introduced in 1950. I was an expert from the beginning. I mastered the on/off switch and could adjust the volume without even looking at the buttons. Channel selection required a little more skill, so for about a year I only watched CBS. The early models were not wireless, so I frequently tripped over the cord, but I never lost a remote. Those were the good old days.
Ziploc bags: Sealing that little bag took a careful hand. The slots for closure were originally labeled “male” and “female” tracks on the box directions. As a youngster I didn’t know what that really referred to, but when it finally dawned on me, I started to enjoy packing my own lunches.
Pocket calculator: I was a wiz at using these marvels. If I entered the correct numbers, I always got the right answer. My mother used one to balance her checkbook, but she didn’t trust it, always doing the math by hand to confirm the totals were correct. How silly. Everyone knows you do it by hand first, and then confirm it with the calculator.
Transistor radio: I don’t want to brag, but I could go from AM to FM seamlessly. However, I frequently poked myself in the eye with the antenna. Kids today would be baffled by a transistor radio. What’s the dial for? Why can’t I ask it for directions to Greenwood, or to find out who invented the cotton gin? If these portable radios ever come back and you have grandkids, I’m available for tutoring.
Velcro: It was invented in the 1940s and one of its earliest applications was for bras. I was way too young to personally witness that application of the product. Didn’t matter. I was having way too much fun opening and closing Ziploc bags.