We are not alone any longer, thanks to an electronic device known as the computer. This marvelous machine is pushing the edges of the envelope, even as we speak. First it was a huge monster which occupied a whole room which was more suitable to be inhabited by Eskimos. They were called mainframes. When I worked for CALESA, a sugar mill in Aguadulce, we had one of those large IBM mainframe computers. If you are my age, 64, you will remember that from 1952 into the late 1960s, IBM manufactured and marketed several large computer models, known as the IBM 700/7000 series.
Then the computers began to shrink to the size of a small box and could be easily placed on top of your work desk top. And that was precisely the name they used—desktop computers. One of the first desktop personal computers was the Altair 8800 designed in 1975, shortly followed by the Apple II computer introduced in 1977.
After the development of the Internet, these desktops began to talk to each other and global networks of computers were created. The commercialization of what was by the 1990s an international network, resulted in its popularization and incorporation into virtually every aspect of modern human life. As of 2009, an estimated one-quarter of the Earth’s population uses the services of the Internet.
The desktop computer became smaller and smaller. It was so small it could be carried everywhere. The name changed from desktop to laptop, because it could be placed on top of your laps. The miniaturization process continued and gave place to the notebooks, which was even smaller and weighted almost nothing. These days we’re talking about handheld computers often called tablets. Such is the case of the ubiquitous Apple iPad and the anxiously expected Amazon Fire.
All of these gadgets are connected to the Internet which is appropriately called The Cloud. This cloud floats on top of us covering every corner of the world, and we just can’t get enough of it. We just have to be connected to this information beast on a 24/7 basis. The smartphone, which is really another computer in disguise, is also a must have if you consider yourself civilized.
We are now living in a global tribe or global village as Marshall McLuhan described it in his books The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man in 1962 and Understanding Media in 1964. McLuhan described how the globe has been contracted into a village by electric technology and the instantaneous movement of information from every quarter to every point at the same time.In bringing all social and political functions together in a sudden implosion, electric speed heightened human awareness of responsibility to an intense degree.
In Panama, the present administration is investing huge amounts of resources in state-of-the-art technology. The major cities of the country are interconnected through a network of Wi-Fi centers known as Infoplazas where you can connect to the Web free of charge. In these technological sweet spots, the cost to its users is zero, nothing, nil, nix, null, naught, zilch, zip, nada.
Below are a couple of pictures of communication towers located on the top of Ancon Hill. They represent the serious intentions of Panama in becoming a First World country.