A Commentary on Technology in Our Lives

Today, electronics play an integral part of the equipment – smartphones, automobiles, laptops, earphones, etc. – that heavily influences how we lead our lives on the daily basis. Today, the presence of technology in our daily lives is taken for granted as the natural “way of things”, thanks to the massive commercial success of several staple household electronic devices during the 1970’s and 1980’s. Though it may be hard to believe, technology played a much less prominent role in the average first-world household prior to the 1970’s.

The Pioneering Household Electronics

You probably recall some of the pioneering electrical devices that digitized the first-world household experience, such as the Apple II personal computer originally released in 1977 and the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), released throughout the United States in 1985. The Apple II sold roughly 40,000 units between 1977 and 1981 and sales proceeded to skyrocket to 1 million units in 1983 alone. The Family Computer, or “FamiCom”, sold 2.5 million units worldwide the year before Nintendo released its successor, the NES.

Millennials: The Tech-Savvy Generation

These numbers show a sudden and spectacular influx of personal electronic devices into households from the early 1970’s to the early 1980’s. Over this 10-year span, most first-world households transitioned from lives with modest interaction with technology into lives nearly consumed by interaction with technology. The youngest generation to grow up in this digitized electronic age is my generation, known colloquially as “millennials.” In the eyes of our families, millennials are the tech-experts of the household and capable of solving any confounding technology issue that someone may encounter in their daily life. While I don’t doubt that we are generally more proficient with the new technologies of our modern world than our grandparents, our technological skills need not expand beyond the user interface of those technologies. Simply put, the personal electronic devices that enjoy the most commercial success are those that are engineered for the user to find their function intuitive after some practice. Therefore, we rarely need to understand how our smartphones, stand-alone cameras, or other devices are built in order to diagnose technical issues we experience when operating them.

Tech-Savvy, but… not Tech-Handy

Here, try a quick experiment with some of your millennial friends. First, ask them how the screen of their laptop is manufactured. Then, ask them how the pixels behind their laptop’s screen are engineered and manufactured so that every laptop’s display works properly? I can guarantee they weren’t able to provide the most satisfying answer, save for your friends who have a passion for electronics and engineering and may have read about just those things. The point I am making is that technology is built so that you don’t have to know how to build it. Though the manufacturing and design of technology is complex, once the electronics are layered with a friendly user interface the technology’s operation becomes simple.

Who Cares How Technology is Built?

The point I made above seems to make it rather useless to understand how technology is built. If our electronic devices are easy to operate, then who cares how the devices were built? However, as we all know, electronic devices are subject to many frustration technical issues that range from integral hardware malfunctions that lead to product-wide recalls and minor design issues that bother consumers on a daily basis. An understanding of the electrical components used to build your device is helpful when you want to get to bottom of a technical issue and solve it for good. In fact, hobbyist electronics have become popular for their potential to produce technology that operates better for the consumer’s purposes that what they can afford on the commercial market.

Ready to Read… My Simple Explanation of Device Manufacturing?

Now, you might presume that I think you should get cracking and start reading technical documents on the manufacturing processes of electrical devices. Instead, I simply ask that you read the following description of how one common electrical device, a stand-alone digital camera’s lens, is manufactured by some of the world’s leaders in optical lens design.

Alright… How ARE Camera Lenses Built?




The Leica Manufacturing Process

“Photographic Lens Manufacturing and Production Technologies” by Daniel Mark Kubaczyk