There are a number of names, categories, classifications, or mini eras given to the various generations over the past 100 years or so. You have probably heard of at least some. I don’t know who exactly coined them all. The media probably had an influence on the more recent ones, and possibly all of them.
The generation that you happen to fall into is generally based on the year that you were born. The following dates are not 100% agreed upon by everyone, but they are roughly what most would consider in the ball park/average.
With each new generation came improvements in technology, which over time has progressed into today’s rapid changing advancements.
GI Generation (The Greatest Generation) 1901-1924 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greatest_Generation)
The ones that are still alive have seen more changes and events than any generation before or after. Not only have they lived through two World Wars and the Great Depression, but they’ve also seen great advances in technology and medicine, and a huge culture change. Having lived through good times and bad times, members of the G.I. Generation are conservative, hard-working, invest safely, and love their country.
Silent Generation 1925-1945 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silent_Generation)
Born between two World Wars and many remember World War 2. Like the previous generation, they have experienced good and bad. Saving and rationing is in their blood. Hard-working, family oriented and minding their own business defines this generation.
Baby Boomer Generation 1946-1965 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baby_boomer)
They were born after the war (World War 2) and their focus was more on America’s culture as a whole and not individual survival. The Korean War (1950-1953), Civil Rights Movement (1954-1965), Rosa Parks (1955), the Vietnam War (1955-1975), The Space Race (1957-1975), The Cuban Missle Crisis (1962), the Kennedy assassination (1963), and The Cold War (1947-1991) are just some of the events that happened during this time.
Generation X 1966-1976 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_X)
AKA the Baby Boomers spoiled kids. Many consider Generation X as the lazy MTV generation. They have seen it all and are cynical. They have fewer ambitions than their parents and don’t mind living at home with their parents into their twenties. Some argue that Generation X has a sense of entitlement and sees the world as me-me-me. What is in it for me? They seem to care a lot less about the past and future compared to their parents and grandparents.
Generation Y 1977-1994 (also known as Millennials or the Millennial Generation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_Y)
A huge boom in technology and the Internet happened during Generation Y. Generation Y thinks anything is possible, and the world is a smaller place for them due to the Internet and communication. America is not the only place in the world. Like Generation X, they have seen it all, but they want to do something about it. They are smart and want to get educated in this competitive world. This generation got the ambition their parents lacked.
Generation Z 1995-2014 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_Z)
The latest generation to be born. Born into a society where information, education, entertainment, and everything else, is just a click away, they are certainly living in the information age with technology that just a few years ago was unthinkable. Generation Z is knowledgeable, competitive, and embraces technology. We cannot wait to see what this generation will bring.
As you can see we have Generation X, Y, and currently Z. No exact dates are set in stone when they start or stop. Don’t ask me what comes after Z? I have no idea. Maybe it’s the end! I guess we will leave that up to historians, the media, technology buffs, etc. assuming that the world still exists for more generations to come.
I refer to the current Generation Z as the Digital Generation or Generation D because anyone born during this time period, especially the later part will grow up with an increased digital presence. Call it what you will though. This generation will never know life before the internet, cell phones, ATMs, digital movies and music, etc.
I happen to fall into the Generation X category or era.
Some of the advancements in technology that I experienced firsthand:
When I was very young records (45s/LPs) were commonly available. Cassette tapes became popular at least in our household some years later. At that time you could find both records and cassettes in the store. CD’s followed later. In the early CD years you could get both cassettes and CDs. Of course now we have a variety of digital music formats like MP3s. It’s still too early to tell whether they will eventually replace CDs completely, but it certainly is possible.
There really wasn’t any way to watch movies in the comfort of your home when I was young. We were limited to a movie theater, or watching TV. VHS players and movies were invented in 1950-1960s, but they weren’t readily available or popular in our house until somewhere around the mid 1980s. I do remember laser disk and beta movies, but they didn’t amount to anything. VHS remained popular for many years, and was only recently replaced by DVD. We now have Blue Ray, but they haven’t totally replaced DVDs yet. Online Video/Movie streaming is on the rise, but it is still unclear if it will replace DVDs or Blue Ray.
When I was little we didn’t have microwave ovens. They were invented, but they were big and expensive. I don’t recall having one until around the early to mid 1980s. I remember watching food cook in it and my mother would tell me not to look at it for fear of radiation or something. I guess maybe it was so new to us we weren’t exactly sure what microwaves might do in terms of health risks.
My first game console/system was the Atari 2600. It came out in the late 1970s, but we didn’t get one until the early 1980s. Game play was somewhat like 2D stick figures. You would probably consider it pathetically boring today, but back then it was the coolest thing around. That was followed by the Nintendo, which we got in the mid to late 1980s. The Nintendo was a huge leap forward in gaming technology and virtually blew the Atari away.
In the mid 1980’s my school got a few Apple 2 computers, which had a very small monochrome monitor. At the time we thought it was amazing. There really wasn’t too much you could do with them though. I vaguely recall there was a small metal square on the power switch that we were supposed to tap a couple of times to prevent static discharge. It wasn’t until the mid 1990’s that personal home computers gained popularity. My first real computer I bought somewhere around 1993-1994 for just under $2000. By this time you could do more than what you could with the Apple 2, but you were limited to purchasing software in the store on floppy disks. It would be a few more years before the internet started to evolve, and become popular. Additionally I learned to type on an electric typewriter when I was in 4th and 5th grade.
The medical technology field isn’t one of my specialties. I am sure there were probably some improvements. I know the MRI came about in the late 1970s, but not very many hospitals and health care providers had access to one until much later than that.
The majority of cars and trucks built during my generation were carbureted. Fuel injection didn’t replace carburetors until the 1980s-1990s range. I still miss my very first car, which was a 1978 Pontiac Phoenix. Man I loved that car. Now we have cars that talk to us.
One thing I will always remember about products from my generation and before is that they were much more heavy-duty and solid. Just about everything is made of cheap light weight junk now, and it seems like nothing lasts more than a few years.
I could go on and on, but I better not get too carried away or I’ll be here all day.
If you happen to be from the Baby Boomer Generation or earlier I am sure you can think of many more oldies, but goodies.
Each generation before me had slower advancements in technology, and of course each generation after has increased at a much faster pace.
So there you have a brief overview of the various generation names, values, and so forth for the past 100+ years. As I said I fall into the Generation X category. I didn’t realize until recently that there are two more, and likely another on the way in the near future.
Where are we heading or going next? I don’t know…To infinity and beyond perhaps!
Just for fun I did try this quick 14 question survey by Pew Research called:
I scored almost exactly right on Generation X.