Sometimes, while waiting for quantum computers to become a thing, or complaining that your stupid laptop keeps dying on 5 percent battery, it’s easy to forget just how far technology has come over the past 50 years.
Sure, we can all list off a whole bunch of innovations that have changed the way the world works – the Internet, smartphones, radio telescopes – but it’s hard to really put that kind of change into perspective.
Thankfully, pictures often speak louder than words, and so below are nine photos that’ll make you stop and raise your *praise hand* emojis to the sky in honour of the scientists and engineers that have got us where we are today.
Because living in a world where you can have your food delivered, relive the entire history of the Universe, and search for new particles all using a device in your pocket is really awesome.
9. 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.
8. Bill, I’mma let you finish, but today’s researcher can fit 1,000 terabytes on a CD.
Speaking of, remember when we still all used floppy disks?
7. “One minute” has a very different meaning than it used to.
It’s no wonder time seems to be passing so much more quickly these days.
6. And space is so much bigger than it was 30 years ago.
It’s pretty mind-blowing that virtually every single day, we’re learning new things about how vast our Universe is.
Case in point: our Solar System might have a new moon and a planet we’ve never seen before – oh and a huge galaxy orbiting our own just appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Hi space, we love you!
5. Fact: the computer that landed Apollo 11 on the Moon had less processing power than a TI-83 calculator.
Seriously, the Apollo engineers did some masterful wwork with the limited technology they had.
4. Speaking of space, we see things a lot more clearly now.
Update for 2016: thanks to the New Horizons flyby, we found out that Pluto acts more like a planet than we thought.
3. 1993 vs 2013 – all this can fit in your pocket.
Soon we might be able to replace our phone’s video with the blink of an eye, and its display with our own skin.
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…
We still have a long way to go, but in 1946, these six women were written out of tech history.
This is what engineering looks like now:
A version of this article was first published in May 2016.