As I turn 40 and another decade comes and goes, I am starting to flash back to the various trends of past. Of course being a fashionista I reminisce of the fabrics and styles of the 80’s with big hair, fluorescent spandex, and shoulder pads to the now skinny jeans, animal prints, and suits for women. You can buy all of your clothes online from all over the world without ever leaving your house; although where is the fun in that compared to a shopping spree like Julie Roberts in her 90’s classic Pretty Woman.

Another area of interest to be both socially and professionally is the shift and innovation of Communications and the technology supporting it. Remember in the 90’s in high school when you would send coded messages to your friends, like 07734 for hello, 143 I love you, or 121 I need to talk. Then you would have to find a payphone to actually make sense of it or to talk to the person. Today, nobody texts in full sentences and all messages are full of emoji’s and acronyms that most people pre- my generation have no clue what they mean or at least how to respond to them. We look for ways to express ourselves or communicate without every talking or being present. It is amazing how far we have come and at the same time a little scary but exciting for where we are going.

Here is reminder of what Generation X might remember from our past and a highlight of what is to come:


The first 1G cellular systems were created in the early 80’s by Nordic Mobile Telephone. I remember my dad had this big wired phone in the car, probably like 10-12 inches, with big buttons and pretty obnoxious to use. Of course I thought we were so cool and I pretended to call my friends from it all the time!

In January of 1983 the Internet was born with network control protocol standards changing to TCP/IP, Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. Of course, we did not have our first computer in my house until the late 90’s.


A wireless revolution emerged bringing with it cell phones, pagers, wireless computer networks and wireless Internet, with the technology shifting from analog to digital. This really opened the flood gates for how people connected with one another. For me, the impact was mostly around improving my ability to do research for school work, explore the world outside of text books, and expedite writing papers. Up until that point I was using an old electric typewriter with a very small screen and a horrible correction function.

For scientists and other worldly off the beaten path traveler, the late 90’s produced satellite mobile phones allowing its user to pretty much use the phone all over the Earth with no disruption from covered cell towers. So if you are stuck in the North Pole this holiday, you should be ok if you brought your sat phone with you!


I think we would all agree that a major impact in the past 20 years has been the ongoing expansion and technological innovation of the Internet and everything that touches it. Voice over IP, although technically experimented with in the 70’s, has become a standard for many businesses and consumers especially as people look to consolidate and optimize technologies and forms of communications. Making calls, placing orders (faxing), holding voice conferences is easy and affordable allowing for a truly unified and converged ecosystem. VoIP has improved the ability to integrate Web services, social networking platforms, data exchange systems, and most types of collaboration tools that have made doing business today more effective and efficient. Consumers can share their lives with family and friends in such a way you do not miss a moment. My mother can look at her granddaughter every day via FaceTime to watch her grow.

The future will only continue to hold more amazing transformations of technology and communications allowing for improvements to how we operate our business and lives ensuring we are prepared for mostly anything. We can look forward to continuous emergence of:
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Portable computing devices
  • Autonomous driving
  • Personalized and predictive medicine with real-time sensor data
I do not want Robots to take over the world or become The Borg, but am hopeful for finding ways to improve ourselves and make our precious time during the life we live the best it can be.

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Leigh Merz

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