Whenever you think about the latest technology, your mind will remind you about the technological advancement going on in U.S.A. It would neither be wrong to say that up-to-date technology has become the brand identity of this mighty nation nor technology and science as the innovator of American society. The world has witnessed the greatest progress in technology and science that humans have ever known. At each and every area, whether invention of agricultural equipment or sending satellite to the space, U.S. has provided a remarkable contribution. If you look back to the technological history for the last couple centuries, you will find a major contribution has done by the Americans. However, the impact of technology and science on American people is so extensive that sometimes it seems they can’t survive without it. Furthermore, the technological development and its implementation in daily lives has been always part of American history. Now the development of American technology and its impact on society from the colonial period to the present is described below:-
Colonial American technology
Technology has influenced American society from the beginning of civilization itself. Capabilities in building, making weapons for war, developing agricultural technologies etc. helped those civilizations to form themselves. Colonial America was the period of innovation when many useful and creative technologies were invented and many of them are still in use today. The fighting techniques of colonial age explore the method by which the revolution army gained ascendancy on the battlefield. Wood and water power were used successfully to implement new technological impact in persuasive way. The numbers of water power mills used in that era were increasing until the early 1900s. That is why the American colonial age is called the age of wood and water power. Fifty years ago water powered mills were so commonplace along countryside streams (Berky, 1958, p. 3) that any descriptive study shows the water powered mills eventually paved the way for indicating the profit of machinery and mechanical power. The advantages of steam power over water power were readily apparent (Gilbert, 1984, p.80).
In spite of the dependence on the wood, the colonists still needed metals, particularly iron for swords, cookware, horse shoes, and the edges of tools. At the early stage of colonial age, iron was produced as black pasty substance which was called “bloom”. To produce larger quantity and better quality iron, blast furnace was developed. The first Iron ore discovered in tin- country was found In Virginia In 1715 (Plumbe, James and Pike, 1885). By 1775, America became the producer of 1/7 of the world’s total iron. People of colonial America were agricultural and there were no major roads. They used to travel from one colony to another by using sea. From the American revolutionary war it can be found. In 1776, General Washington promulgated the order to the Army to go overland from Boston to New London, Connecticut, and then by ship to New York.
The colonial American’s relationship to the technology was as a fanner or farm worker. However, that does not mean that they did not deal with technology. That only meant that individually they were not artisan or craftsperson. Because of the lack of skilled labor and limited specialization, the speed of technological change was very slow. Gutenberg, a German goldsmith living in the mid-15th century, half a millennium ago, Johannes Gutenberg invented the movable-type printing press (Kravitz, 2004, p. 5). Even maps, postage stamps, and the labels on products we buy are possible because of what Gutenberg did (Rees, 2006, p. 93). Immediately, the impact of this invention was felt throughout the American society. In related to this, People were used to sell some portion of crops in exchange for the products which they could not produce such as guns, gunpowder, ironware, books etc.
Industrial age and American technology
The industrial revolution was a great change from the perspective of economic development of United States. The first industrial revolution was occurred in Great Britain and Europe and then centered on the United States. The industrial revolution provided the change from hand production to machine and factory. Spinning and weaving machines run by water power was replaced by steam which helped increase U.S. growth. Most importantly, industrial technology truly changed the American society and economy into a modern urban-industrial country. The telegraph, telephone, railroad systems born during this time influenced on the lives of Americans.
Like the printing press, automobile industry and its’ production had an incredible affect on many aspects of American people. Henry Ford provided a useful, but relatively affordable way of transportation. There were other means of transportation which were not inferior to the automobile. The invention of automobile allowed the rich to move outside the cities like New York, California, Florida etc and drive into them by their cars when needed. Automobile is undoubtedly a convenience which has improved the standard of living of American people. The automobile technology provided a vast and widespread network of streets, highways and freeways. The two famous books of James J. Flink on the issue of the automobile and American society continue to be standard works – America Adopts the Automobile, 1895-1910 (James, 1988) and The Car Culture (Cambridge, MA, 1985). The leading authority on the "car culture," James J. Flink, is now working on an ambitious international history of the automobile age (Jackson, 1987, p.372).
By the end of 20thc century, air transportation was added into the automobile which perhaps the most vital way Americans got from place to place. By this time the concept of scientific management of manufacturing was introduced successfully. The historian James J. Flink has suggested a sequence for portraying the changes in ... that transformed the American lifestyle into the car culture (Dunn, 1981).
Along with the urban side, American’s rural countryside also began to enjoy enormous technological change. Farms became modernized by adopting new technology as well as the financial, cultural and ideological apparatus of industrialization. The impact of technology on day-to-day lives of American people became ubiquitous. Transportation networks, technical infrastructure, energy system enveloped their total lives. Invention of Radio, Television, and telecommunication technology brought blessings to the every aspect of their daily activities. These technologies are excellent example of which proceeded to create their own demand. Television became the “provider of family entertainment”. Rather than reading newspaper, they watched television news. Rather that reading encyclopedia; they watched informational programs on television. Kids learn from “Sesame Street” rather than hand on learning. Entertainment became the source of knowledge. In addition, “in 1920 only 34.7 percent of American dwellings had electricity; by 1930 67.9 percent had electric power” (E-notes, 2009). During this time, the example of New York City was the icon for the other states. That is why the New York City, which, according to Weinberg, is the best that any technological fix can hope to finish.
Information age and American technology
Today, among the Americans, internet and digital technology can be said as the most popular and used technology. Interesting, most of the additional technologies are using today are more for “wow” factor than their utility. The area of medicine and communication has improved so much that Americans tend to desire new technology for their own sake. There is no certainty that what a person bought a few minutes ago as the latest technological production would remain same.
The revolution in the filed of bio-technology can be considered as another milestone by Americans. The way Americans are getting the benefits from bio-technology, could not even think just a few decades ago. People are so hunger for up-to-date technology. “Beginning in the 1970s, the biotechnology revolution has brought gene swapping, the first clone and genetically modified organisms” (The ABC, 2004). In present time, the use of computer hardware, software, programming, networks characterize America and the Americans. Both the developers and users constructed the astonishing technology of internet. The impact of modern technology on every American is seen in IT, media, computer, games, advertising, transportation, medicine, arts, literature and the way they envision the future.
On all these accounts, it is important to state that the impact of technology on Americans can not be described just by words. But it is also important to remind that day by day people are becoming slave of technology. People need to understand that technology is at the service of humanity and humanity is not at the service of technology. Nevertheless, many technologies have taken over their ways of life, their emotion as well as psychological aspect of humanity. Technology should be put back in its proper place so that society can advance in positive way rather than negative.