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Technology through the years

"Technology" is a word which has come to mean a variety of different things to different people. Some may imagine space stations, while others
think of broadband deals. One person might picture a high-tech utopia, others a mechanised nightmare.

There was a time when technology brought with it optimism, a future era free of strife and oppression. Many people will say that the twenty-first century has not yet lived up to their hopes and dreams.

But the negative suspicions of technology have always been with us, even in the most utopia-minded of eras. During the industrial revolution the Luddites fiercely opposed the technological developments of the period, feeling that machines stripped them of their livelihoods.

The dawn of the twenty-first century was for many an optimistic time, but soon came one of the greatest horrors of living memory: the First World War, a mechanised conflict in which human beings were sacrificed by the million by supposedly wondrous new technology.

Only decades after the supposed "war to end all wars" came World War II, the conflict of Nazi death camps and atomic bombs. Insane tyrants dreamed of their own twisted utopias and devastated the world in an attempt to turn their fantasies into reality. The fifties brought new developments in mass media and domestic technologies that were a great boon for the working classes, particularly women who were no longer slaves to household duties - but even this fondly-remembered era was sullied by the terrible spectre of nuclear apocalypse.

But technology has also seen a great history of triumphs. Alongside terrible weapons of war sit great advances in medical technology. The cosmos is now being mapped by probes and space stations. There is enough material for a new utopian dream - one which can learn from the disasters of the past without collapsing into despair. Humanity appears to be shrouded in doubt, too haunted by nightmare visions of death camps and atomic wars to imagine a bright future.

So, the next time you settle down to enjoy your everyday technological marvels - your plasma television, your broadband deals, your digital radio - spare a thought for the history of engineering. Give thanks to the pioneers from Thomas Edison to Steve Jobs who strove to bring these wonders to the common people.

You never know. Perhaps, while you are lost in thought, the next world-changing technological development will pop into your head...

Guest Article by Charly Wargnier
Image of Charly Wargnier

Charly Wargnier is a freelance copywriter based in London, UK. He writes and tweets about all things Digital & Electronic Music. Drop him a line on Twitter!

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