Exploring the history of Phoenix, Arizona, just for fun. Advertising-free, supported by my patrons on Patreon. Thank you!

The latest technology and the history of Phoenix, Arizona


As someone who is entering his, uh, "senior years" I often hear a lot of my friends say that they don't like the latest technology. And of course it makes me wonder what they're referring to. In my mind, technology is everything that people have invented, starting with the wheel. Each new technology when it was invented, was of course the latest technology, and so the definition of "the latest technology" is something that I've often pondered. And the answer is easy: the latest technology is whatever wasn't around when someone was a kid.

Here in Phoenix, of course, there's no one old enough to remember a time before electricity, or cars. And so those things seem as if they've always been. In my imagination I often think how shocking (literally) electricity was when it came to Phoenix in the 1890s, and how "latest technology" it was there for most people, who had never seen it. Of course in other parts of the world, like Paris, electricity had been around for a long time, but to people in Phoenix it must have been extremely exciting, or frightening, or both.

So when someone rants about how much they hate the latest technology, I understand. I do a quick estimate of when they were a kid, and things since then are the latest technology. For me, it's computers, the internet, and Smart Phones, to name just a few. Of course for someone decades younger than me, those things aren't the latest technology, they've "always been around". It has to be the difference between the very first iPhone, and the latest one, which to me is the one that just came out last week. If I point to a 1984 Macintosh computer to someone who was born in 1984, they certainly wouldn't see that as "the latest technology", more like something that's always been around, like the way I feel about electricity.

As a modern city, Phoenix is just amazing. I can point to the dam was built in 1911, or the new cross-cut canal, built in 1913. The list goes on and on of things that the city has done which have progressed it way beyond other cities in technology. The freeways alone are amazing pieces of the latest technology, starting in the 1960s. If you don't see it, I understand, because it seems as if they've always been there. But that's the way technology works. At first it's astonishing, and very quickly it's taken for granted.

Thank you for time-traveling with me, and using the latest technology to do so!

Image at the top of this post: Article from the Phoenix newspaper in 1890. Let there be light! It must have been amazing to see.

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