The Evolution of Personal Technology

I have always tried to be organized in both my professional and personal life, and have employed many technology devices to support these efforts. I can recall using versions of the Time System planners and Franklin Day Planners early in my career. Going further back, I think I even had a modular address book that I received for high school graduation.

Later, the Outlook-centric work desktop became a corporate standard, with contacts, calendars, and email all in one place. Initially calendars weren’t shared, but it was commonplace to print them out on a weekly basis. Gradually, things migrated to all electronic, all of the time.

Then came the ubiquitous Palm Pilot and other competing personal digital assistants. They synced with the Outlook platform so you could have a current, portable download. They were clunky compared to today’s standards, but were convenient and considered advanced at the time. You were cool in the business world if you were sporting a Palm Pilot.

The next generation was the smartphone. I recall my wife (an extremely dedicated Palm Pilot user) asking, “Why would you ever want your calendar in your phone?” This form factor brought numerous features together. Perhaps the two most important initially were being always synced and having the ability to communicate via email from a small device. I hear there are still some dedicated Blackberry users out there who have not been able to tear themselves away from a physical keyboard, but their ranks are dwindling (from 85 million worldwide in September 2013 to 46 million in September 2014). By comparison, Android has over 1 billion worldwide users. As smartphones continue to add apps and additional functionality, their potential seems unlimited.

watch-756487_640Now, into the marketplace comes the connected watch. Recently, our household gained its first Apple Watch (I’m assuming it won’t be the last). However, it’s not mine – it’s my wife’s. Yes, Donna, the person who couldn’t see the need for her calendar in her phone, has a computer on her wrist. It’s a new category for sure. Fitness tracking, notifications, easy-view messages, weather, and more, both yet-to-be-discovered and yet-to-be-developed.

Today, personal technology devices have allowed our personal and professional lives to become seamless. With data coming in and going out continuously, communication is rich, frequent, and sometimes overwhelming. While I certainly appreciate and take advantage of all of the technology at my disposal, sometimes I get nostalgic for simpler times. Sometimes there is no substitute for paper and pen. Excuse me while I go look in my archives for my Time System.



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