Destiny, Time, and Tarzan

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First of all, I must say that I'm surprised I'd never heard of Bob Stein before, seeing as how he really was the first creator of not only the e-book but also the CD and DVD. He quite literally is behind all the consumer technology that's come out since I was born. I also must say that after reading the interview between him and Dan Visel, I'm wowed, truly wowed in realizing that the emergence of e-books (which I have spurned wholeheartedly since I first heard of them a few years ago) was a trend that was already on its way when I was born. Bob Stein's ability to map out the path that technology has taken over the past forty years by talking about his own past makes me more inclined to believe in destiny.

When he talks about DVDs coming out in January 1997, I remember my seven-year-old self spying my first glimpse of a DVD two years later in the electronics section of Spartanburg's new Target. I turned to my dad and asked what the difference was between watching Tarzan on DVD vs. on VHS. I was enchanted by what he told me, wanted to buy a DVD player right then and there although it was a few more years before we finally did make the switch from VHS to DVD.

I think also about a conversation I had with the girls in my class on a field trip in fifth grade. Our class was asked to go around in a circle and say our names and what we wanted to be when we grew up. When it was my turn, I firmly declared that I wanted to be an author. My two best friends at the time said similar things. The three of us were already writing short novels by that time (what I'd later find out were called "novellas"), which we often shared with one another. I remember looking across the circle at their faces and thinking that we each had the talent to become published authors one day, that it was too perfect of a fit for the three of us, that we couldn't not become authors. I had imagined when I made that statement, that twenty years down the road I'd be writing books just like the paperback ones I'd grown up reading, the only kind that I knew at the time.

It never occurred to me until reading Bob Stein's interview a few minutes ago that e-books were already on the way when my friends and I made that statement. I think now that I was part of some juicy destiny at the time. I had no way of knowing that if I still wanted to be an author ten years down the road, I'd be producing books to appear on portable screens for people to read, that the technology for those kinds of books was already underway. Hearing Bob Stein talk about his past, how it's been affected by technology and how it's affected technology is kind of amazing. Because it's everybody's past. And it's already everybody's future.



carsonk's picture

I just wanted to say that I

I just wanted to say that I have to agree with you! It's amazing to note the drawing of the ebook from 1986 in our reading exists! I feel like I'm looking at a museum artifact to me.

laura8's picture

I was amazed as well that e

I was amazed as well that e-book's history goes so far back. I had assumed it was simply a 21st century thing. But just like VHS switched to DVD and DVD to Blu-Ray, perhaps printed books will one day just shift completely to e-books. (I'd be kinda sad about that - I like the way books feel in my hands.) But just as a 5 or a 10 year old today probably has no idea what a VHS looks like or even is, our children might not recognize a printed book.