Friday, February 25, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History - Week 8: Technology - Space Program

This week's challenge: Technology: What are some of the technological advances that happened during your childhood? What types of technology do you enjoy using today, and which do you avoid?

John Glenn
Mercury Astronaut
Former U.S. Senator, D-Ohio
1968, Wilber, Nebraska
There was no question about this week's selection for the technological advance of my childhood.

Space travel - it doesn't get more technologically advanced than that.

When I was a child in the late 1950s, I vividly remember when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik. I couldn't have told you the date from memory, but NASA says it was October 4, 1957. I remember standing in our yard, looking skyward, confident I would be able to see it pass overhead. I also tried to dig my way to China once, but gave up after I dug about four inches of dirt and decided I enjoyed life right where I was.

In his inaugural address in January, 1961 President John F. Kennedy challenged the United States to place a man on the moon in the next decade. That seemed like the thoughts of a wild dreamer at the time.

The space race began between the United States and the Soviet Union (It was called the USSR then). Monkeys were being tested in spacecrafts, but the first human being to enter space was Yuri Gagarin of the USSR. We followed the current events surrounding the space race in grade school. I knew the names of all seven of the astronauts selected for the Mercury space program: Alan Shepherd, Gus Grissom, John Glenn, Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, Wally Schirra, and Deke Slayton.

Shepherd became the first American in space and John Glenn was the first American to oribit the earth. His capsule was called Friendship 7. I read and re-read every article about the astronauts in Life magazine. Glenn's flight was in 1962. I took a huge risk by taking my transistor radio to school with an earphone so I could listen to the radio broadcast about his flight. I must have gotten away with it because I don't remember getting in trouble or having it taken away from me. John Glenn was my true American hero! In 1998, at the age of 77, he became the oldest person to fly in space.

I remember the tragedy when Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee died during a pre-launch test of the Apollo craft in 1967.

It was only two years later that the Apollo mission carrying Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins took off for the moon, fulfilling President Kennedy's dream. I remember watching the live coverage of the landing and the first walk on the moon during that hot July of 1969.

Aspects of the space program have been well portrayed in the film version of The Right Stuff and Apollo 13. There was even a sci-fi thriller that pondered that the space program could have been smoke and mirrors and produced in a television studio in Capricorn One. On a family history note, my third cousin, David Doyle, appeared in that film. 

Current Technology

For the second part of this week's challenge, what technology do I enjoy today and what do I avoid?

All who know me probably think of me as Lady GaGadget. Really. Over the years, I've had to have the latest and greatest in electronics, including stereos, boom boxes, Sony Walkman, VCRs, DVD players, DVD recorders, Sony Camcorder, you name it. Over time, I learned to not jump on the technology bandwagon as early as I had before. Now I tend to wait for the bugs to be worked out and the price to come down. I didn't buy my HDTV until about a year and a half ago.

My first computer purchase was in 1986, a Tandy T-1000. No hard drive. Didn't need one. Since then, I had one other desktop model, followed by four laptops and a netbook. I don't love computers. What I love is what they allow me to do.

My other recent techno gadgets would include two Creative Zen mp3 players (I'm not an Apple or iPod fan), and the Creative Zen which plays mp3 files, audio books, videos from YouTube and stores photos. I had the first generation Flip Video Camera even before Oprah featured it on her show. My current love affair is with the Flip-Pal mobile scanner. I ordered that last summer and was in the first round of early adopters to begin using this product from the company's first shipment. This scanner also has to compete with my Kindle E-reader for my attention. I'm definitely glad I waited for the price to go down on the Kindle, but now I'm waiting for Amazon to come out with a color version. I also make quite a bit of use of my Garmin GPS.

What do I avoid?

Cell phones! I have a love/hate relationship with cell phones. I like having it when I need to make a call, but for carrying on a real conversation? Nope. Don't like it. And I can't imagine me giving in to a Smartphone. I figure that I can wait 8 hours to read all of my junk email and do it on my computer. I loathe the idea of texting and hope my state Legislature will outlaw the use of cell phones and texting while driving.

Mostly, I hate ring-tones. More specifically, yours. :-) 

Related blog posts:

Sending my stuff to the technology graveyard

Flip-Pal review, Part 1

Flip-Pal review, Part 2

Using Kindle for Genealogy

Using Kindle for Genealogy Redux

About 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History: Amy Coffin of We Tree Genealogy has created a third year of blogging prompts for genealogy bloggers. The theme for 2011 is 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History. These are shared on the web site, hosted by Thomas MacEntee.

1 comment:

  1. Susan, I avoid cell phones too! I use them to make calls when needed, but just don't want to have one glued to my ear. :)

    I grew up on the Space Coast in Florida and my Dad worked for NASA during the Apollo program until he retired during the Space Shuttle program. Hard to believe the shuttles will be grounded soon. I really enjoyed your post!