Old photos, new technology

I’ve been scanning old family photos — I mean very old family photos — to preserve and to publish for family members who are interested. I’ve been using an Epson Perfection V300 Photo scanner and have enjoyed the process, especially as compared to older scanners I’ve used. It’s easy and fast. I recommend taking a look at it if you are in the market for a new scanner. Or at one of the newer models.

While thinking about how much scanning technology has improved since I first started using it, I came across an item to scan that reminded me how much our lives have been changed by technology that was developed in the 20th century. Below is a scan of each side of a post card my grandfather sent to his mother when he was shipped to France in World War I. As you can see, it was supplied to him by the Red Cross.

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When my grandfather was a soldier, he was lucky to be able to get snail mail sent back home on rare occasions. Today, soliders even in combat zones can send email, make cell phone calls and even have computer-based or cell-phone based video chats with family and friends. And family and friends can send scans of old photos of great-great grandparents who were also soldiers.

Thanks to technology, performance and productivity in everything has grown beyond what most people originally imagined. For instance, in the mid-1960’s, the Star Trek series imagined “replicator” devices that reproduced material goods from patterns, but of course, it was not something they actually expected to see within about forty years. But today we have a form of replicator machine. If you go to Shapeways.com, you’ll find that you can design a range of objects in a 3D program and they’ll use a replicator type of machine to automatically produce it for you from your 3D pattern.

If we can go from postcards to video cell phone chats in less than a century and from imaginary replicators to a form of the real thing in about forty years, I’m starting to get impatient for the advent of my “holodeck.”