Brought to you by Newscorp Australia

Mobile phones, digital cameras, the internet and planes have changed how we live

Staff writers, November 1, 2017 7:15PM Herald Sun

Print Article

Technology has developed so fast that computers are very quickly out of date and useless. media_cameraTechnology has developed so fast that computers are very quickly out of date and useless.


Reading level: orange

Technology has changed almost everything about the way we live, from how we travel and navigate to the ways we share information and take photos.

Modern technologies, smart phones and the internet mean tasks that once took days, weeks or months now happen instantly, at the press of a button or swipe of a screen.

Let’s take a look at some examples of then and now:

1979. Telecom's latest cutaway phone booth which is being test in Collins St, Melbourne. Telephones. Phones. Telephone box. Public phones. Pay phone. Payphone. Neg: MJ28050. #hsinstagram media_cameraPhone booth on Collins St, Melbourne in 1979.
Smiling redhead girl in red polka dot dress with green dial phone on yellow background. media_cameraA dial up phone.


Phones have changed a lot since they popped up in Australian homes in the late 1950s.

Phones were originally screwed onto walls and attached with wires and cords. They used a circular dial with numbers that you had to turn to phone someone’s number. Push buttons came in later.

People without a home phone or anyone out on the street were able to use a public or shared payphone in a phone box.

Mobile phones first became popular in the 1990s.

Unidentified male model with mobile phone on hip, showing 1980s decade of corporate greed & cowboy tycoons Communications /phones / generic media_camera1980s mobile phone.

Since then smartphones have combined phone capability with instant messaging, internet access, cameras and navigation.


Not so long ago snapping a picture meant loading film into the back of bulky camera, taking a photo, finishing a roll of film (24 or 36 images) and then taking it to a camera store or pharmacy to be developed.

L-R, Christina Sutherland, Tim Diacos, Lily  Ainsworth and David Diacos. and Sunday 7 March the Sydney Camera Market will be held at the Ultimo Community Centre.   It is an opportunity to grab a photographic bargain!  Near new digital cameras can be found alongside old box Brownies. Classic Leica Rangefinders, a favorite with artists and press photographers since the 1930's can be bought at reasonable prices.   Run since 1997 this hall full of photographic bargains is also an excellent museum of all the very best and worst image capture devices made. What is a Daguerotype, Polaroid instant film process, Holga or Diana F photography? A pin hole camera?   Pic Chris Pavlich media_cameraSome old-fashioned cameras.
20th Anniversary of photographer Max Dupain's passing. Max's assistant Jill White pictured in her Cremorne home with a collection of Max Dupain's iconic images of Sydney. Jill at work in the darkroom in the garage. media_cameraA photographic darkroom.

The only instant images were from polaroid cameras. Special film was stored within the body of the camera until a photo was taken and the image shot out and eventually revealed itself.

The arrival of digital cameras — and more recently, smartphones — mean endless images can be taken and stored at minimal cost.


Long before movies and TV shows were streamed over the internet, they were played from VHS cassette tapes.

Millions of Video Cassette Recorder (VCR) units were sold in Australia between 1980 and the early 2000s. Videos made way for DVDs and Blu-ray disks, which have since mostly been eclipsed* by streaming services.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs launches the first iPod in 2001. Pic Google. media_cameraSteve Jobs with the first iPod. Picture: Google


How we listen to music has also changed with changing technology.

From the late 1800s until the late 1900s, large, circular records were the most common way music was played. Even radio stations used records to play their music on air.

They were replaced by audiocassette tapes and then CDs, before digital music appeared.

When technology giant Apple released the first iPod in 2001 everything changed again.

Now streaming services provide near limitless song choices to anyone, anywhere, at any time.

The Directors Cut Italian Restaurant for Source (print and online) media_cameraRecord player. Picture: Matt Loxton


International travel has taken off with the development of planes and commercial airlines.

But fewer than 100 years ago, it took Australians at least 40 days to travel to the UK by ship.

Travel was costly* and took a long time.

A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE - YOUR FAVOURITE PHOTOS media_cameraLong ship journeys were common for people travelling between England and Australia. Supplied.
n38mv211  Street name in Moonee Ponds. Has not been updated in the Melways. Peter Gould. media_cameraA Melways street directory. Picture: Peter Gould.

While GPS and digital maps are common in phones and cars, until a decade ago most vehicles had physical map books such as the Melway to help with directions.


Before computers were invented all written communication was either handwritten or typed on a typewriter and either mailed by post or faxed using a fax machine.

The Advertiser Library media_cameraAdelaide woman typing on her typewriter.

In some places pigeons were even used to carry letters, similar to the way they do in Harry Potter.

Sending letters overseas could take 1-2 weeks, but it was quickest and cheapest way to send an international letter was by Airmail. It took about a week to arrive, was on lightweight paper and restricted the writer to just two sides of one piece of A4 paper.

Vector illustration of blank airmail envelope with stamp and rubber stamp Source : iStock media_cameraAn airmail envelope.

Emails and text messages are now fast and efficient* ways to communicate to people around the world. Messages can be sent and received almost instantly.


eclipsed: overtaken

costly: expensive

efficient: productive



Activity 1. Then and now

Create a table with headings ‘then’ and ‘now’.
Use the information in the article to write a couple of dot points for each of the items covered to show how things have changed over time.


Have a think about how other things may have changed with the invention of new technologies and add some dot points about them to your table.

What about games, cooking and shopping?

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity

Curriculum links: English, History

Activity 2. How things used to be

Write a list of questions you could ask a parent, grandparent or other older person to learn more about how these and other things have changed over their lifetime.


Things will continue to change over your lifetime too!
Make three predictions about how the world will be different by the time you are 50.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity

Curriculum links: English, History, Critical and Creative Thinking


(Vocabulary, Connectives, Openers, Punctuation)

Up level it!

Find a basic sentence in the article and up level it.

1. Pick a basic word in the sentence and see if you can up level it to be more specific or higher level.

2. Add a connective and extend the sentence to give more information.

3. Enhance the opener of the sentence. You can add a new one, up level what’s there or try shuffling the sentence order.

4. Make sure all the punctuation is correct and if appropriate use higher level punctuation to enhance the sentence.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity

Curriculum links: English, Big Write, VCOP








Kids News loves reading your best grammar, vocabulary and spelling.

We publish the best comments.

Extra Reading in technology