My 8-Year-Old Self and Technology

A few years ago, I was walking to my gate at the Toronto, Canada airport. The terminal was crowded and as I walked, I heard a soft but steady swooshing sound coming up behind me. I looked up and saw a red monorail drive past. I immediately had an incredible flashback to my first visit to Disneyland, California, circa 1964. I was about 8 years old, and I was in awe of all the amazing things that I witnessed, most of which were in the Tomorrowland exhibits.

The Disney monorail was the first daily operating monorail in the United States. In the flashback of my early visit to the park, I remembered wondering if something like this would ever be commonplace. It was amazing to see it operating at the Toronto airport, especially since it was going right through the building, much like it did in Tomorrowland many years ago.

As I stood at the airport watching the monorail go by, I realized that during that same Disneyland visit (or one soon after), I also spent time gawking at the first ‘push button’ telephones and the first ‘touch screen’ computer monitor (it had 9 sections and the only thing you could do was play tic-tac-toe on it). The push button phones transitioned into regular use in the following decade, but the touch screen technology took many more years to become common in our daily lives.

There was also the Carousel of the Future! I remember the video phone concept they were showing. The vision back then was to have the phone company do video conferencing. Well, that certainly has come to pass – in many more and different ways than people thought about back then.

Today, I can see who is at my front door while I am in my office, which is a separate building, 52 steps from the back of my house. I carry my telephone in my pocket and can send messages, information, and photographs to people around the country, and around the world, in a minute or less. I attend meetings, conduct trainings, and host webinars, meeting people from different time zones and different countries, while sitting in my office with my computer. I make guest appearances and do media interviews without getting on an airplane, train, or even driving my car.

The glimpse of future technology and the possibilities it could bring was fascinating to 8-year-old me. I’ve seen and used many of those futuristic ideas that were on display in Disneyland, and I know there are many more to come.

What technology did you first see at a Disney Park or at a World’s Fair? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comment section below.

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