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A couple of crucial items that get you around in a hurry

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Posted: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 12:00 am

When you get to thinking about it, computers have pretty much traveled the same road as the automobile. And, of course, we’re not talking literally. That would be silly.

Now, the evolution of the computer has happened a lot quicker. But that’s no surprise. Everything moves faster in this century.

First, let’s consider the early motorcars. They were, at best, elemental conveyances. But they were faster than horses and buggies. And even then, people liked the thought of having power and speed at their whim. Plus the early day cars were eye-popping because hardly anybody had them.

Same goes for computers. The first computer most folks encountered was UNIVAC, which looked as big as a house. But those first versions were impressive as heck on early day television, primarily on game shows.

Back to the car. It took years as conveniences were gradually added on. Things like windows that rolled up and suspension and seats that cushioned you against the rough roads were a long time coming. But when Henry Ford started producing the Model T on an assembly line, it was revolutionary — and made cars available to more than just the rich.

Back to the computer. Over a period of years, the technology was adapted to units that were bigger than a breadbox, but still small enough to hook up to viewing screens and stick on a home desk. Again, the average person didn’t have to be immensely wealthy to have a computer. But, like Model Ts, they were still status symbols.

Gradually, cars became more attractive and less unwieldy. Such comforts as heat, and considerably later, air conditioning were added.

As for computers, they were made more efficient. And when the Internet came along, they’d let you putt down the information superhighway somewhere near the speed limit.

Naturally, cars eventually became works of art. You had your choice of models for whatever use you preferred and they came with sounds systems, satellite radios and even televisions to keep the kids occupied.

Computers evolved as well, to a point you have UNIVAC in laptops you can carry around, and even on phones that fit neatly in a pocket.

But here’s the catch. All those innovations gave everybody a thirst for the newest gadgets, both with cars and computers.

Oh, you can drive both for years. But you better be ready for performance anxiety and lots of breakdowns over the long haul.

Time gets by faster than you think, and cars and computers can become some of your bigger sources of despair. There’s nothing worse than cussing the computer first thing in the morning when it takes forever to access the Internet, then going out to find a flat tire or a drained battery on the car.

So, oh yeah, cars and computers have something else in common. They’ll drive you nuts. But we love ’em despite the heartache. And there’s no way we could ever get along without the development of either because they changed the world as we know it.

And now most vehicles have a lot of computerized components, which must mean we’ve come full circle.

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