Last month I wrote about some of the technology that was on display at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show and the trends for the future. With the dawning of the new decade it is interesting to see how far technology has come since the last one. When we are living it, we don’t always realize how dramatically our habits are changing, but looking back we can see how far we have come.

The personal computer and the Internet were the defining technology the 90’s, but there is a collection of devices and technologies that have defined the decade of the 2000’s. These technologies had a common theme: on-demand information and entertainment.

Broadband technology was born out of necessity to deliver the rich internet content that was emerging to quench a new entertainment and information appetite. The internet text and images of the 90’s expanded into audio and video content. A dial-up modem connection was not longer sufficient for the masses. If you wanted to watch a video, play a game online, or download music you needed speed. Broadband internet provided that speed and became a necessity.

At the same time, the explosion of online information led to the requirement for fast, efficient search engines to find it. If you couldn’t find what you were looking for, then it didn’t matter whether it was available or not.

The early Alta Vista of the 90’s led to the powerful Google of the 2000’s. I don’t think there is any argument that there is still plenty of room for improvement in these tools and they will continue to evolve. As essential as a search engine is for our everyday online life, a search for information is still far too often an exercise in a separation of the wheat from the chaff.

Along the lines of entertainment, a slew of products came of age in the 2000’s including: the DVD that replaced the VHS tape; the DVR (digital video recorder) that is revolutionizing the way (and when) we watch TV; the iPod and other MP3 audio players that took the place of the Walkman; and of course HDTV and the big screen.

Before my family goes on a trip we frequently go to Google Maps and familiarize ourselves with the route, even to the point of being able to preview parts of our trip with a visual street view of our destination or route. Once we are on the road, we no longer need a glove box full of maps to navigate, as many of us now depend upon our now commonplace GPS devices.

The list of influential developments of the last decade would not be complete without mentioning the evolution of cell phones into small computers that provide not just voice, but email, text and photo and even video recording capabilities. Information can be captured and communicated now wherever we may be. Networking sites MySpace, LinkedIn, Facebook (from 0 to over 300 million users) and Twitter keep us in touch and updated with each other like never before.

This is just a small sampling of the visionary technology from the 2000’s that we have come to enjoy, and frequently rely on, for our everyday lives. I can’t wait to see what amazing developments the 2010’s will bring!

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