Most of the things we enjoy today are the result of a chain, and may be mere links in a chain that will stretch on and on. The question often is asked, “What will be the next big thing?” Nobody knows. But if you keep in mind that the things we have now are but the latest links in chains, you might be able to figure out what will be next.
The cars we drive today are just the latest links in a 100-year-old chain that began in Germany with the Mercedes, then was carried on in the United States by Ford, Packard, Dodge, etc. Henry Ford broke ground with the mass-produced Model T that everyone (more or less) could afford, and also with the $5-a-day minimum wage for many of his factory workers. Such things as electric windshield wipers, heaters, roll-down windows, electric windows, radios, power steering, power brakes all came along to be, at the times they were introduced, the next big thing. Today, cars are computers with engines. By 2020, it is said, the self-driving car will be widely used (the self-parking car already is).
Some links in the chain were introduced early. Some of the first cars had electric motors. Now, electric, or partially electric, cars are relatively new, but are catching on, and considered one of the waves of the future. The minimum wage, by the way, is $8 an hour.
Cell phones are another example of just the latest links in a long chain, a chain that began with Alexander Graham Bell’s first telephone. Next came wall-mounted phones, followed by desk sets, followed by dial phones, followed by push-button phones — all of which were links in the telephone chain. Then along came radio telephones in vehicles and remote areas, and then citizen’s band radios, which brought inexpensive communication to truck drivers and others who did business in their vehicles. The first cell phones in vehicles were in bags in cars and trucks. Then, they became more portable, but were still the size of bricks. Gradually, they became smaller and more powerful, until they morphed into what we use today.
Perhaps the next cell-phone development will be conversations that are as clear as those on the dial phones were.