THE GHOSTS OF TECHNOLOGY PAST

We have seen various ghosts of technology past during our picking excursions emphasizing the constantly changing world of business technology.  By the time it hits the market, it is already close to obsolete and the next thing, as they like to call it, has already been launched and the next, next thing is not far behind. 

Being a medical transcriptionist, who started out on an old manual typewriter and magnetic belts, I have welcomed changing technology with open arms, knowing full well that eventually technology would push me out the door.  And while most of me is out the door now, my fingers and ears are still not totally free, which is a good thing.  A few days away from the keyboard and my fingers aren't so flexible anymore. 

Electric typewriters replaced the manual and then word processors came along, which were replaced by computers.  The old cumbersome dictating/transcribing systems (the earliest of which used foil or wax cylinders) were eventually replaced by handheld recorders with mini cassette tapes, then digital recorders and phone lines.  Currently it is possible to transcribe directly into a patient’s electronic record within minutes of the physician dictating the notes. 

I’m sure some of you are saying speech recognition is even faster and doesn't require a transcriptionist.  Well, the raw dictation is immediately available, but unless there is front-end or back-end editing, it may not really say what the physician intended.  Speech recognition software without proper editing, leads to some prize-winning bloopers making it all the way to patient charts these days.  While they can be amusing, they can also adversely affect patient care. 

A few months ago, I found an interesting article in the Rock Hill Herald.  It seems a gentleman, Tom Russo, began a career working in the business machines industry after serving in the US Navy.  Eventually, he started his own business machine company and when he retired from that, he began searching for vintage office machines.  What began as a hobby to find and preserve outdated business machines, has grown into a 3,000 item museum - the Thomas A. Russo Museum of Business History and Technology in Wilmington, Delaware.  Among other items on display are the old cumbersome dictating machines.  If ever I get up to Delaware, I will definitely stop by and see them.  In the meantime, I will be content to view these older machines at the Sleepy Poet in Charlotte NC hopefully on a day when the cupcake truck stops by.