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How Technology Has Evolved – A Gen X Perspective
Heather Fudger /

How Technology Has Evolved – A Gen X Perspective



I am a proud Gen Xer. I loved growing up in the age where we experienced seismic technology shifts. We are a strange hybrid of digital users who are extremely comfortable with technology but still remember a time when things were a bit more primitive.

There is no question that life is much easier today with the influx of technology, especially in the workplace.  If this past year and a half has taught us anything, it’s that in the education field and business world at least, you have to be somewhat tech savvy to keep up with the times.

From Chalkboards to Interactive Whiteboards

In school back in the 80s, our lessons were taught with the help of chalkboards and overhead projectors.  Those big, bulky pieces of machinery wheeled in on a cart in the middle of the classroom were the highlight of our day.  Who doesn’t remember the thrill of being allowed to write on the transparency with a dry-erase marker and seeing the results projected on the wall? We also had the luxury of the CompuCoach – a bus with computers that came to our elementary school. It was all very high-tech for the time.

Tech savvy students today use interactive whiteboards. Students born into the digital age cannot resonate with anything static – they want interaction. Interactive whiteboards invite students to engage with the lessons and teachers aren’t limited in what they can present to students. An interactive whiteboard can integrate with many different cloud-based platforms, including Google Classroom and Blackboard Learn.  Teachers have a wide array to choose from, whether it be photos, graphs, illustrations or videos.

From Apple LLC to Lightning-Fast Laptops

I remember when my dad, an early adoptive Boomer, brought home our first computer, an Apple IIc.  I was around 8 years old, and I remember thinking how cool I was to have a computer in my very own house!  It had a black and green screen and I used to play games on a floppy disk, the old 5 1/4” flimsy ones. I was the envy of all of my friends back then as I was among the first of us to have a computer! Everyone would come over and we would play computer games and mess around with MS-DOS like we were early coders.

When I joined the working world, I realized that you had to be an executive to get a laptop.  Everyone else had desktop PCs.  And if you travelled?  You had to beg, plead and pretty much promise your first born to even be considered for a laptop.  And even then, you had to be pretty important to get one.  I unfortunately was not.  So, when I got back to the office after being at a trade show for a week, I had tons of emails.  Can you even imagine that happening today in the days of instant gratification?  

Today, having a laptop that performs with peak performance either in the office or at home is key. Laptops need to be durable and lightweight to keep up with transporting from the office to home, or travel. It should also have plenty of memory and be equipped with the latest operating system.  Additionally, it is extremely important to have the most up-to-date virus protection software installed.

Tech-Savvy Students Need Tech-Savvy Gear

When I started driving in the early 90s, I was given a “car phone” to put in my trunk.  It was huge, had its own bag and you could pretty much only call 911 unless you wanted to be charged something like $15 per minute! When I went off to college shortly after that, I was given a prepaid phone card to make my long-distance calls and a word processor to do my assignments on if I didn’t want to make the haul to the computer lab. 

Today, most teenagers have a phone.  Fortunately, with Bluetooth technology readily available in modern vehicles, it provides a safer way to make and receive calls when necessary. Long distance charges are a thing of the past and with video calls being so popular, it makes it easier for a college student to interact with their families and maybe not feel so homesick.

Currently, I have a Gen Z daughter who was practically born with a smartphone in hand.  In preschool she was on a tablet, in elementary school she was given a laptop and she is never without her smartphone, which is like her oxygen.  I can’t wait to see what amazing technology is available when she is in the workforce.

The technology evolution reminds me of a quote from one of my favorite (and classic Gen X) movies, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”


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