The Badger’s first boss in the IT industry had their employment terminated after the financial performance of their business unit disappointed for the third quarter in a row. They shrugged their shoulders sanguinely and told the Badger ‘Nothing is forever. That applies to technology, organisations, and people. Always scan the horizon and prepare for possible changes as best you can’. These words came flooding back with the announcement that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s reign had come to an end. The Badger has found himself reflecting on these words given the huge technological changes that happened in the Queen’s 70-year reign.
At the time of her Coronation in 1952, television was black and white, in less than 20% of UK homes, and there was only one channel. Radio and paper newspapers dominated the flow of news to the general public, coal and wood were the primary fuels for heating homes, only 1 in 20 people had access to a motor car and the UK motorway network didn’t exist. The world’s first commercial airline service using jets had just started, steam engines pulled carriages on the railway network, and a landline telephone in the home was a luxury. Life was spartan, food was still rationed, satellites didn’t exist, microchips had not started to revolutionise the field of electronics, and the Information Technology sector had yet to be born.
Things are very, very different today. The technological change during the Queen’s reign has been phenomenal. It has been diverse, fascinating, and awe-inspiring, and it has evidenced the truth of the ‘nothing is forever’ words of the Badger’s boss. The Queen’s reign saw both the emergence of multiple new technologies that changed our lives, and their subsequent obsolescence. The emergence and then decline of video tapes, CDs, and DVDs with the advent of streaming illustrates the point neatly, as does the journey from bulky black and white and then colour TVs with Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) screens to today’s ‘Smart’ flatscreen, wall-mounted, multi-functional, entertainment devices. The journey from early mainframe computers for business, to personal computing, the internet, and the powerful tablets and smartphones in our hands also potently illustrates the numerous cycles of innovation and obsolescence that have occurred during the Queen’s reign. It’s a sobering reminder that the technology we embrace today is inevitably tomorrow’s obsolescence.
‘Nothing lasts forever’ is an undeniable truth, a truth that the end of the Queen’s reign brings into stark perspective. It’s a truth that applies to everyone, everything, and in every facet of life, and one that our new monarch, King Charles III, is now steadfastly embracing. These three words remind us that we should actively and positively deal with the cards that are dealt to us in life, and that there are no better role models for doing this than the Queen we mourn and our new King.