Back in the mid-90′s, AOL Instant Messenger introduced a feature that allowed you to talk to a “Buddy” with a microphone instead of having to type your conversation. (I could be wrong, but I think this feature has since been removed, at least on the Mac.)
One evening my brother and I decided to try this feature out. He was in Chicago at the time, and I was in Baltimore. So we got on the computer at the same time, and connected to the internet via our 56k modems. We logged into AIM, and before you knew it we were talking to each other. We were dumbfounded at this cool, new method of communication.
Our Instant Messenger conversation was choppy and sounded like we were on a 5 second delay. But it was still the coolest thing, to us.
Fast forward to January 2006.
If you listen to the MyMac.com podcast, you know that I was recently interviewed by Tim and Chad on Podcast #61. For the interview to work, we used a piece of software called Skype. For those not familiar with Skype, it is similar to iChat. It also has the ability for users to converse over the computer. During the interview Tim, Chad, and I were able to talk through the computer, just like my brother and I did with AIM. However, this was a totally different experience.
This was my first time using Skype. So, when Tim and Chad “called me” over Skype for the interview, I was blown away at the clarity of the conversation. We might as well have been talking on the phone! It was that clear, and there was no time delay! What an improvement!
I am writing this article the day after the interview, and I am still amazed at how clear our conversation was. Not only is Skype an amazing piece of software, but just think about how far technology has come in a short amount of time. Every article or cartoon I do for MyMac.com is sent to Tim via email. Ninety-nine percent of the communication I have with him, and the MyMac.com staff has been done via email. Not too long ago, none of this would have been possible. Everything would have been done through “regular” mail and the telephone. You can even do video conferencing through iChat now.
What’s next? Who knows? Whatever it is, it will probably be here sooner, rather than later. I’ll be looking forward to it, but first I have to try that Skype thing again! WOW!
I need to mention that both ends of the conversation had high-speed internet connections, and I don’t know how well this would have worked over dial-up.