For no particular reason, we recently decided that it was time to
upgrade from our ancient tube TV. This is a rite of passage for many
people, like moving from a rental property to a mortgage, or dumping
your rickety old fourth-hand vehicle for a dope, spankin’ ride.
Typically when I make major new purchases, I spend countless hours
researching and analyzing the options. By the time I hit the showroom
floor I’m normally better informed than any salesperson.
This time I threw caution to the wind, assuming that a basic consumer
good like a television wouldn’t require any extensive understanding.
Heck, it’s just audio and video, right?
The fax came back, we thought he was a goner,
But the fax came back, he just couldn’t stay away.
Like the proverbial cat with nine lives, this ancient technology called
the fax just seems to stick around long after it’s welcome.
Alexander Bain is credited with the invention of the fax, having
received a British patent for it in 1843. He built his machine out of
old clock parts and metal etching materials. It used a pendulum-mounted
stylus to scan a perforated surface.
The information was then transmitted used Samuel Morse’s telegraph
technology to a second device that recorded it on paper. Accordingly,
Bain called it the “Recording Telegraph”.
Despite its name, however, Bain’s invention was clearly the ancestor of
the fax and, while its technology sounds pretty rudimentary, the
principles of the modern fax machine are there.
It looks as though the other shoe has dropped. At least one television
studio — ABC — has caved to pressures from illegal file sharing
services like BitTorrent and is now selling commercial free programming
Episodes of Desperate Housewives and Lost can now be purchased for two
bucks a pop at Apple’s iTunes Music Store.
Unfortunately, for the time
being, they’re only available through the US version of the store, but
it’ll spread to other countries soon, no doubt.
I, for one, hail the move. The current model of television broadcasting
sucks, if you ask me, and is in bad need of a major overhaul.
As members of contemporary western society we like to feel that we’re
part of a tradition that embraces technological advancement. We believe
that we tend to adopt new technologies that will make our lives more
comfortable, our workdays more efficient, and our world a better place.
To an extent, this is true. After all, we are able to communicate, travel, and play like never before.
But many of the decisions our society has historically made in terms of
the adoption of new technologies have been misguided or simply wrong.