Sunday, January 10, 2010

Technology changes in the 2000s

Now that the first decade of the 2000s (2000-2009) are behind us, an overview on how technology changed during these years.


Cell phones went from being a fairly expensive tool used by affluent people to becoming universal and a teenage fashion statement. The cell phone I had at the beginning of 2000 did only one thing: Make and receive phone calls. The cell phone I had at the end of 2009 can make phone calls, take pictures, play mp3s, and even play simple video games, not to mention recording and playing back simple video clips.

There was a single “smart phone” in 2000: A black and white combination cell phone and Palm device that cost about $1000. Smart phones are now less expensive, widely used by affluent workers, are in full color, and include cameras.

In 2000, the handheld PDA to have was the Palm. At the end of 2009, the handheld PDA to have was the iPhone.

In 2000, a laptop was expensive and used by affluent workers. By the end of 2009, laptops were everywhere and actually more common than desktop computers.

In 2000, a sub-laptop was very expensive and uncommon, mainly used by affluent traveling workers. The mid-to-late 2000s, inspired by a project called “One Laptop Per Child”, gave us the netbook: A small laptop without a CD-ROM or other things people expected with a computer that is actually less expensive than a full-sized laptop.

In 2000, 1.44 meg floppy discs were still widely used. While Apples were somewhat notable for not having floppy discs, any standard PC such as a Dell still included a floppy drive (I remember in 2000 at work being annoyed a driver for a network card was larger than 1.44 megs in size, forcing me to burn a CD to give a computer network card support). At the end of 2009, computers do not come with floppy drives, which are now only fairly rare external USB add-ons.

In 2000, recordable CDs were still expensive; computers usually did not have recordable CDs drives (they were usually external drives), and CD blanks were about $1 each. CD blanks had their price drop like a rock in the early 2000s and were about 30 cents each by the beginning of 2005. Soon, DVD recorders and blanks also went down in price, being about 30 cents each by the end of 2009.

VHS died in the mid-2000s, with the transition to DVDs and DVRs made. In early 2006, Wal*Mart stopped carrying VHS movies.

HDTVs gained a significant foothold in the 2000s.

While not universal, the hi-def video format war was won by Blu-Ray in early 2008, paving the road for hi-def to become the next-generation home video format, a process that was still ongoing at the end of 2009.

James Cameron finally released another movie at the end of 2009, Avatar, which was the first mega blockbuster to use 3D.

Portable music players were CD players at the beginning of 2000, with cassette-based players still in use. mp3 players were uncommon, and existed both as CD players that could read mp3s on a data disc and the occasional flash memory mp3 players with 32 megs of memory or so. Through the 2000s, we went from this to portable mp3 players using tiny hard discs, to flash mp3 players with gigabytes of memory, as well as having cell phones able to play mp3s (cell phones still often used strange non-standard headphone connectors at the end of 2009, but the transition to using standard headphone jacks was well under way)

At the beginning of 2000, social networking was essentially non-existent. The mid-2000s gave us the MySpace phenomenon; by the end of 2009, MySpace was a has-been, mainly used by musicians to promote their music, and Facebook was the social networking site to be on.

Hybrid cars became a reality. The 2008 spike in gas prices caused the Toyota Prius to be the car to have, as well as making expensive gas-guzzling cars and SUVs outdated. By 2009, GM (who didn’t have a hybrid at the time) was facing bankruptcy.

Digital cameras became universal, with film only still used by pros and artists at 2009’s end.