Sep 1st, 2012 | By Susan Stilwell | Category: Money & Business, Women in Business
By Susan Stilwell –
“I’m not sure what Gs are, but my new smart phone has four of them!” my neighbor chirped. Technology buzzwords change so often it’s hard to keep up, much less make sense of them. We hear “3G and 4G” a lot, but what exactly is that?
G stands for Generation. First generation (1G) technology uses analog signals, which take an image or a voice and converts it to a series of electronic pulses. Those pulses fly through the air until they reach an antenna, but signals transmitted this way are easily distorted. Here’s a walk down memory lane for some of us, and a story for you sweet young things:
Once upon a time, before cable and remote controls were invented, televisions had a dial on the front for changing channels. This magic dial had 13 channels, but it mocked us because there weren’t 13 channels to watch. We had antennas that could pick up signals for ABC, NBC, CBS and PBS. If you wanted to watch the ABC channel, you adjusted the antenna until the picture became clear. If there was a storm, the static in the air interrupted the signal, and the picture was snowy and distorted. It was tragic, so instead we played Monopoly or Barbies. Or baked brownies in our Easy Bake Ovens.
The tragedy of four static-y channels propelled engineers and scientists to develop second generation (2G) technology, which is digital. Instead of converting to electronic pulses, voices and images are converted to a series of 1s and 0s. Like analog signals, they travel through the air on a certain frequency, or “band.”
Unlike analog signals, digital technology is smart. It sends a map with the 1s and 0s, so it’s no problem if the signal gets distorted during transmission. Once the 1s and 0s get where they’re going, they line up in their proper order to ensure images and sounds that are clear and crisp. Another bonus: we got all 13 channels and then some!
3G and 4G, third and fourth generation technology expands and refines the digital technology that’s already in place. We can transmit more data than ever because scientists learn creative ways to use the bandwidth. Our cell phones are now smart phones because they not only transmit voice signals, but texts, photos and let us surf the internet! And having access to the Internet opens the door to all sorts of possibilities.
Soon the market will buzz with 5G, and our phones will get even smarter and handier. Maybe someday they’ll even bake brownies.
When Susan left her job as a computer analyst to stay home with her two toddlers, she figured she’d used her technical knowledge for the last time. Twenty years later, she’s pairing that knowledge with wit and humor as she explains technical concepts in easy-to-understand terms. She also has experience with a variety of social media platforms, which makes her a welcome contributor to the LivingBetterat50+ team. A seasoned Bible teacher, speaker, and devotional writer, Susan shares her insights on her inspirational site, www.susanstilwell.com.