It is pretty odd that a calculator and a touch-tone telephone have exactly opposite layouts for their keypads, which have many identical components. The reasons behind the differences are not known for certain, but a few theories exist. The first theory deals with the telephone's circuitry and tone-recognition hardware. When the touch-tone telephone was being designed in the late 1950s, the calculator and adding-machine designers had already established a layout that had 7, 8 and 9 across the top row. Data-entry professionals, and others who used calculators fairly regularly, were quite adept at navigating these keypads. They could hit the numbers extremely quickly, which was great for data entry, but not so great for dialing a touch-tone phone. The tone-recognition technology could not operate effectively at the speeds at which these specialists could dial the numbers. The telephone designers figured that if they reversed the layout, the dialing speeds would decrease and the … [Read more...] about Why is the keypad arrangement different for a telephone and a calculator?
Firsts This week we're taking a look at first things, early things, and—for better or worse—things that are #1. The world is filled with amazing technologies, many that are so old we don’t even think of them as technologies at all. Today, we present the definitive list of every important technology ever, ranked by their importance. These aren’t all necessarily good technologies, of course. There are plenty that have made the world a more miserable place for everybody. But they’re still on the list. If you have any opinion about the fact that this list may be omitting an extremely vital technology, you would be wrong. This list is both correct and definitive and cannot be changed. And you’re wrong. 100. Cow milking machine Are you one of those chumps still milking a cow by hand? An extremely primitive automated cow milker was invented around 1860, but the contraption would see many iterations through the 1920s and ‘60s as the rise of … [Read more...] about Technology, Ranked
11Cordless Phones The portable telephone was another "must have" technology in the 1980s. When these phones came on the market, everyone had to buy one. Maybe it was cell phone envy? Who knows. When they first came out, these phones were incredibly simple. The handset was, essentially, two walkie-talkies in a case. One walkie-talkie handled your voice, while the other handled the voice of the caller. That way you did not need the push-to-talk button of a normal walkie-talkie. Theses phones used the standard 27 MHz and 49MHz frequencies that walkie-talkies and baby monitors use. That meant short distances and a fair amount of interference, along with the fact that your neighbors could listen in on your calls. Even so, cordless phones were popular because you could get rid of the cord and walk around the house or yard while talking on the phone. The reason these phones exploded in popularity, by the way, is not because of the technology. Walkie-talkies had been around for decades. As … [Read more...] about 12 New Technologies in the 1980s
October 30, 2006 In parts of cities like Washington, D.C., gunshot-detection systems are improving police response time to shots fired. Gunshots that once waited for responses to 9-1-1 calls from neighbors or the discovery of a body hours or days later now get reported automatically, within seconds of the event. There are several gunshot-sensor systems on the market. Some use sensors designed to detect the sonic boom of a bullet that travels faster than the speed of sound. Others use sensors that pick up the optical characteristics of a muzzle blast, the explosion that propels the bullet out of the gun barrel. A system recently deployed in Washington, D.C., called ShotSpotter, relies on an acoustics-based, GPS-equipped system that automatically locates the origin of the shot and notifies authorities. A series of acoustic sensors picks up the sound waves of a muzzle blast that radiate outward from the barrel in all directions. The heart of the system is acoustic triangulation. While the … [Read more...] about How can acoustics technology help police locate gunshots?
Start the Countdown A telephone headset is a great example of a technology mashup. Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Thinkstock By definition, technology's job is to do a specific task in a way that's an improvement over previous techniques. Mechanical and electronic technologies work together in washing machines to spare us hours of hand washing our clothes. Digital technology in word processing software allows us to type up, edit and revise a document before we ever print it out on paper. A technology mashup mashes together two or more technological innovations in a single device. Thanks to the mashup, that one device can handle multiple tasks. A simple example of a technology mashup is a headset used with a phone. The headset incorporates both headphones and a microphone, separate technologies that are used together for a two-way voice exchange. The term mashup is frequently used to describe a single software or Web application that combines the features and information … [Read more...] about 5 Technology Mashups That Make Your Life Easier