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Virtually all areas of technological innovation saw major advances over the the period between 1960 to 2000. The most culturally and economically significant technological advances occurred in the areas of information technologies and data storage and retrieval. In other words, the computer. The invention of integrated circuits and microchips during the 1960s presaged technological advances that would gain speed as more businesses began to see the benefits of investing in these technologies.
Advances in data processing and computing capabilities have not just progressed at astronomical rates, they have been integrated into applications previously untouched by that level of technological sophistication. In the 1960s and 1970s, automobiles had no computerized components. It was only toward the very end of the 1970s that electronic ignitions were beginning to show up in automobiles. By the end of the century, cars were being manufactured with computerized sensors to alert drivers to mechanical problems in an early stage of development.
Similarly, the amount of computing and storage capacity in personal electronic devises saw monumental evolutionary changes during the latter half of the 20th Century. Personal hand-held calculators that came on the market in the early 1970s bear little resemblance to the versions available within far smaller devises that also perform many other functions besides solving mathematical equations. The first generation desk-top computers, mainly Osborne and Kaypro, utilized small twin "floppy" disks that were limited in their storage capacity. These first-generations computers had little to no internal storage capacity. By the year 2000, floppy disks had given way to smaller, higher capacity and more secure methods of storing data.
The computer has revolutionized how hundreds of millions, if not billions, of people live their day-to-day lives. All of these advances affecting how we live our lives were the products of the innovative minds of individuals over the span of many years. The best known of the current era, the late Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, of Apple and Microsoft fame respectively, made major contributions to the evolution of technology in the United States and the world. The early innovators of the first half of the 20th Century, however, are also deserving of our recognition.
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