It was geeky, technical, jargonistic. You’d debate the merits of the smallest changes, remix and reinvent, preorder the latest model months in advance, then watch the shipping date slip further into the future.
It spurred innovators to greatness and grandiose. “There are no imaginable limits to our opportunities,” a government commissioner would enthuse.” “I aim at Tesla,” said the self-styled father of this new technology.
It would bring the best of times; nothing else could possibly “touch the lives of all people more intimately,” as one put it. It’d also bring the worst of times; it could “suppress and distort fact,” even “stir up mob violence,” another worried.
It started out as a spark. We’d tamed lightening, as our ancestors had tamed fire. We’d brightened the darkness, built the first automobiles, sent messages on wires coast to coast.
“Do you think there is a limit to the possibility of electricity?” Thomas Edison was asked in 1896. “No,” replied Edison, “I do not.”