How Have Everyday Appliances Changed Over the Last 20 years?
Do you take your TV for granted? Or, how about your computer?
Our everyday appliances have changed dramatically in the last twenty years, but perhaps we all need a memory jolt to appreciate just how much they have changed. As the world becomes more interconnected, digital technology has allowed TV viewing and Internet browsing to have more options than ever before. What’s more exciting is how this all happened during our lifespan. Can you even remember a time without the Internet, smartphones or mobile apps? Let’s take a look at four appliances that are so common in everyday life – we generally take them for granted – and see how they have changed over time.
1. The Television
In 1994, connected TV was first patented. Another name for it is Smart TV. But, Smart TV didn’t make a splash until very recently. No, back then you had a TV, a VCR and a TV remote control. If you knew you were going to miss an episode of Seinfeld chances were, if you didn’t set up your VCR to record it, you never watched the episode. It wasn’t until 1999 when the first DVR was introduced for the home. Some people may remember the introduction of TiVo, which allowed you to record new episodes, set TV viewing schedules and download movies. The DVR forever changed how we watch TV – these days the consumer expects to be able to skip commercials, record multiple shows at once and set their recordings on their smartphone. In the US the majority of households use connected TV to watch digital video and it’s continuing to be a standard for households. See this infographic on the evolution of TV in the last 20 years from Adweek:
2. The Computer
Computers twenty years ago were big, clunky and heavy. Just take a look at – an old Macintosh computer from 1993. People back then didn’t know much about the Internet either. It was still a new concept. Electronic mail – what’s that? “Surf the web,” come again? Dubbed the information highway, the Internet and computers were still not universally known. For the launch of Microsoft’s Windows 95, Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry – at the time, stars of the hugely popular TV show Friends – were used to show people how to work this new operating system. Looking back, it seems silly hearing them talk about how to “minimize windows” or what the “Find” feature does. Nowadays, two year olds know how to work a computer. Computers today are much sleeker, lighter, smoother and cheaper.
3. Vacuum Cleaners
In the early 1990s, vacuums developed some new technology to accommodate the typical house owner. Central vacuum cleaning systems, or built-in vacuum systems, began to gain popularity with real estate agents and home remodelers since it added value to homes. People with seasonal allergies also benefited from the lack of recirculated dust or allergens in the air from having a central vacuum system. All air is exhausted outside the home. Other advances of the vacuum cleaner were the filterless cyclonic dirt separation system and the rechargeable handheld vacuum. In the early 2000s, due to improved batteries and miniaturized computer technology, the autonomous robotic vacuum cleaner was born, also known as the iRoomba. No longer do you have to stay tethered to a big vacuum cleaner while you clean. With the iRoomba, you set it and forget it. Cleaning your house has never been easier now that you don’t have to push around the vacuum!
4. Mobile Phones
Originally mobile phones were not the sleek little gadgets you see and use everyday. Back in the 1990s they were big with long antennas. They looked similar to cordless phones. It wasn’t until closer to 1998 that mobile phones started to look like something we are familiar with today – they were smaller in size, came in a variety of colors, and had small antennae. In 2000, touchscreen capability was introduced, but it was in black and white and very primitive to today’s standards. Back then it was all the rage. The first cell phones with a built-in camera were released in 2000. One was manufactured by Samsung and the other by Sharp. From this point on, cell phones tried to be smaller and thinner. Motorola dished out one of the sleekest phones in 2003, the V3. But, that all changed in 2007 with Apple’s introduction of the iPhone. It was the first phone that had an operating system with an advanced touchscreen. Mobile phones became larger and wider to encompass a bigger touchscreen and viewing ability. Now, instead of only using our mobile phones to talk on, we use them for so much more, including, among other things, as a universal remote.
What Will the Next 20 Years Do To Our Appliances?
We can only wait in anticipation of how technology will change how we use phones, watch television programs, clean our homes and use the Internet. So, tell us, do you miss your old devices or are you waiting for what’s next?