The Evolution of Technology 2002-2017

When Georg, Gene, and I started Valiant Technology in 2002, things sure were a lot different. The Department of Homeland Security didn’t exist. The housing market was hot, and no one knew the word “sub-prime”. Brazil won the world cup.

So much has happened since then.

Personally? I got married and had three kids. I lost a house to the housing bubble and then lost another one to Hurricane Sandy. I gained an incredible community in my home in Long Beach, which the best damned place to live on the east coast, so I call it even.

Okay, enough personal stuff, how about professionally? At Valiant, we’ve grown from three guys dreaming in the front room of my Astoria apartment to a tribe of 40 blood thirsty barbarian nerds spanning the country. I’m so proud to be a part of this incredible team, bringing our particular formulation of tech support and guidance to our customers.

Valiant isn’t the only thing that has evolved. Everything has changed. I want to take a moment to look at the world we inhabited then, versus the world of now.

Social Media

In 2002, Friendster was the hot-as-fire social network with 3 million users.

Today, Facebook has 2 billion users, all wasting their days arguing about tiki torches, vaccinations, and flat earth theories. We went from a world of “stranger danger” fears to openly sharing everywhere we go, what we eat, and who we’re with.

The Internet

Happycat FTW15 years ago, Internet Explorer had a 95% market share. 600 million people were online worldwide, and we had over 3 million websites to browse.

Now, Internet Explorer is at a paltry 12% (and that includes Edge). There are 3.8 billion people on the Internet now – that’s 51% of the worldwide population spending over 10 hours a day online.

There are over 1 billion active websites today. Strangely, throughout this period of record growth, just over 50% of all sites have been, and continue to be, dedicated to pictures to cats.

Thanks, cats.

Celebrities

In 2002, we lost Dudley Moore, Waylon Jennings, Thor Heyerdahl, John Entwistle, Ted Williams, Richard Harris, Jam Master Jay, and Joe Strummer. So much incredible genius cut away.

Here we are 15 years later, and we are still stuck with the pointless Kardashians and Yoko Ono is still out there, somewhere, making weird noises in art galleries.

Brick and Mortar Commerce

Entering the 21st century, Blockbuster Video was a 5.5 billion dollar behemoth, built on late fees. Borders books handed its online sales to Amazon, and directly refused to make an entry in to e-commerce, which was strange – even at the time. Tower Records also ignored the world of digital, preferring to stay focused on the CD market in the era of the iPod.

In 2017, all three are gone; relics of a time before the Internet and the multi-trillion dollar marketplace it has become. RIP.

RIP Tower Records

On the other hand, companies like Netflix have flourished. The company went public at $15 before dropping to below $5. Now, Netflix is currently valued at $178/share (after a 2-for-1 split in 2004 and a 7-for-1 split in 2015,) which is in the neighborhood of a 14,000% increase in value. Oh, and it’s worth 68 billion. Take that, Wayne Huizenga.

Computing Power

In 2002, Japan’s Earth Simulator was the supercomputing world champion, capable of handling 35 trillion floating point calculations per second. Today, Sunway TaihuLight handles 93 quadrillion floating point operations – that’s 2,600 times more powerful.

Consumer Electronics

Nokia 6610

Back in 2002, Nokia was the king of phone manufacturers. The Nokia 6610 phone was the mobile technology supreme. That phone was everywhere, with 15 million units sold. Most of these bulletproof phones probably still work, which is ironic since Nokia doesn’t even exist anymore. Apple’s iPod was the mobile music tech powerhouse, and had a max capacity of 10GB. The popular PowerBook had a 1GHz processor, 10GB of storage, a maximum of 1GB of RAM, and optional WiFi – running at 11Mb/sec.

Today, we carry around entire computers in our pockets. Music, dial tone and photography are just apps. This evolution means far more adoption of the devices. The iPhone 7 sold 78 million units in the first quarter of 2017, includes 256GB of storage, a powerful camera, an entire ecosystem of apps, and more. My Macbook has a 3.5Ghz processor, 1TB of storage, WiFi capable of 1.3Gb/sec speeds, and offers enough power for 10 hours of web browsing – all at a mere 3 pounds.

Despite these advances, I miss the time when a cell phone would have a battery life that would span several days, or at least two conversations.

Amazon.

The e-commerce powerhouse posted their first ever profit in 2002, with 3.9 billion dollars and a $17/share stock price. This was also the same year Amazon Web Services launched.

2016 saw Amazon clock in at over 29 billion dollars and a near $1000 stock price. Profits continue to be elusive, but only because Mr. Bezos prefers to re-invest profit rather than take it home – and judging their growth since 2002, I think he’s right.

Amazon’s recent quarterly revenue on AWS was over 4 billion dollars – and that was considered to be a disappointment.

Technology – Looking Forward

Whew. Damn. So much has changed; it’s an entirely different world.

The years have found hidden efficiencies in reliability and behind-the-scenes improvements. Compare a car manufactured in 2002 to one sitting in the front of a dealership today. Entirely new revenue models, like the sharing economy of Uber and AirBnB exist now. Back in 2002, rental of a house required a realtor and a fax machine.

Banking has completely transformed because of technology – we bank by phone and only go near a bank to use no-fee ATMs. Human interaction is practically non-existent. 

This general improvement in technology means our role in our customer’s environment has changed as well. Instead of being the greasy weird U-boat mechanic in the bowels of the ship, constantly tuning the engine, we can be on deck – helping the captain decide where to go, because we know what the boat is capable of. Beam me up Scotty indeed (seriously, how many episodes of Star Trek had happy endings because of miracles Scotty made possible?).

In 2017, technology has a glossy, new, finish. We are no longer represented by neckbeards typifying “spot the IT guy” jokes, but the likes of Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Jony Ives. And this is a good thing. Here’s to 15 more years. See you there.

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