By Ralph Hood

I am fascinated by history that changed our lives.

I remember when Gail and I first bought a fax machine. Overnight, it changed our business-to-business communications. Instead of sending messages by mail—and waiting, waiting, waiting for the responses—we sent faxes. The fax was instant, and we loved it.

Then came our first computer. With the computer we had email, and the fax died away quickly.

Credit cards changed things. When I was a kid, it seemed that the only card was the Diners Club card, first issued in 1950 and used—we heard—only by wealthy people. We, of course, didn’t qualify.

After that, credit cards spawned like rabbits. When I first started traveling constantly, I took at least $200 in cash. Credit cards changed that. Cards paid for hotels, rental cars, airline tickets, and meals. The card company printed out a record of exactly when, where, and to whom I had paid with a card.

Life was good, and then it got better…

The ATM at every bank changed our lives greatly. I got signed up ASAP and it was wonderful. As long as I had money in my bank account back home, I could get money out of ATMs all over the country. Cash in my wallet was almost unnecessary.

Funny thing about ATMs—people who didn’t travel didn’t use ATMs much. I remember one day in Louisville, Kentucky, when a businessman offered to take me to lunch. I stopped on the sidewalk as we walked by a bank and got a $100 from the ATM. The businessman was shocked beyond belief. He signed up at his bank the next day.

When I first started traveling, I had to use payphones. Every airport had a line of pay phones reaching from hither to yon, and I think I must have used most of them over the years.

Then cell phones came along and changed my life. I could call and talk as I walked through the airport or sat drinking coffee. Amazing!

Satellites changed our lives, too. I was but 16 when the first satellite was launched and orbited the earth at altitudes not even dreamed of at the time. It was called Sputnik, and it was Russian. The so called cold war with Russia was going strong and we—who could create wonders—had been outdone by the Russkies.

Today, satellites flit around the earth in numbers you and I can’t even imagine. They improve our communications and lower our costs. They are wonderful, and we don’t even know when we are using them.

As someone once said, life is wonderful!