Sure, we can all list off a bunch of innovations that have changed the way the world works – the Internet, smartphones, radio telescopes – but sometimes it’s tricky to really put that kind of change into perspective.
To our delight, however, pictures often speak louder than words. Below are a bunch of photos that might just make you stop and quietly thank the scientists and engineers that have got us to where we are today.
8. Where are my vacuum tubes? I was promised vacuum tubes!
This is the PDP-7 minicoputer, produced by the Digital Equipment Corporation back in 1965. At the time, it was thought of as extremely powerful, and cost a relatively cheap US$72,000. It had a 9 kb memory, but could be upgraded to 144 kb.
7. Bill, that’s pretty cool, but in 2014, one researcher fit 1,000 terabytes on a CD.
Speaking of, remember when we still all used floppy disks?
6. “One minute” has a very different meaning these days.
On the one hand, it’s no wonder time seems to be passing so much more quickly these days. On the other hand, 2020 still somehow took forever to end…
Seriously, the Apollo engineers did some masterful work with the limited technology they had.
4. Speaking of space, we see things a lot more clearly now.
And if gorgeous crisp Solar System photos are still not enough, 2021 has arrived with the first-ever video footage of a Mars rover landing! Whoahh.
3. 1993 vs 2013 – all this, in one device.
2. And things have gotten a lot smaller, too.
Even the future of space travel is miniature.
1. And this happened in just 9 years…
Next step: DNA storage.
Bonus round: a quick note on diversity…
This is what engineering looks like now:
A version of this article was first published in May 2016.