Technology is like your favourite pair of jeans; seems to shrink over time. As technologies become more refined it allows for devices to become more compact. However with this compaction comes the ability for addition. This addition in turn becomes refined and allows for further expansion. And so we ended up with the smart phone and the digital television.
The first portable radio telephone that existed in WW1 had to be carried by a donkey. It provided mobile communication but had limited access. This technology was large, expensive and not ready available for the public. The briefcase phones were similar in the way they allowed for portable communication, however they too were expensive and bulky. Eventually technology was refined enough to provide society with “The Brick”. This first readily portable phone soon became the first Motorola cell phone which, in turn, led to smaller and smaller mobile phones. The technology advanced and the devices downsized.
However while we have the ability for small sleek refined devices production must reflect consumer demand. It is technologically possible for tiny television screens to be developed, as the iPods and screened portable devices prove. However, the trend at the moment is to have large LCD or plasma screens. So the technology is refined enough to be small but the consumers demand larger devices.
In addition to the consumer demand the convergence of technology and media platforms on these devices leads to less compact gadgets. While phones were becoming smaller and smaller a few years ago, the first iPhone and even current Android options more closely resemble “the Brick”. They bare little physical resemblance to the tiny flip and slide phone that were being developed just a few years earlier. The expansion of the range of functions on these devices means that the technology is less refined. Despite having the ability to have miniscule cell phones a small touch screen smart phone isn’t functional or perhaps technologically possible as yet.
So, we seem to think of technological devices as always shrinking but in fact they, over more recent years, have expanded because of converged technologies and because of consumer demand. I can stipulate that while technology may always be becoming more refined but devices aren’t always shrinking.