By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Today is July 11.
You can refer to it also as 7/11. The first thing I think about when I hear 7/11 is a Slurpee. That means a flashback to my childhood and visiting on of our many local 7-Eleven convenience stores.
Back in the 1980s, a week didn’t go by without us popping into a 7-Eleven. It was the ideal stop after a long road trip or after school. In the aisles of this store were delicious hot dogs, ice-cold drinks, canned goods, toothpaste, coffee and much more.
Fast forward to today, it is hard to find a 7-Eleven around the Mid-South. 7-Eleven Inc. is a Japanese-American international chain of convenience stores, headquartered in Dallas. The chain was founded in 1927 as Tote’m Stores until it was renamed to 7-Eleven in 1946.
Since that name change, 7-Eleven has had several competitors in the convenience store arena. And just like in life, as we progress as a society our technology grows.
The overall name of the game is convenience. So on this 7/11, I want to rank the top 10 inventions that I use every day that makes my life easier. Here goes my best of the most convenient things in my daily life.
There is much debate on who actually invented the automobile. One thing is certain: What we drive today has undergone several changes and advances.
Now this invention is necessary for routine travel in the United States. Cars were invented in their modern form in the late 19th century by a number of individuals, with special credit going to the German Karl Benz for creating what’s considered the first practical motorcar in 1885.
Now, they can be a status symbol, hobby or pain in the rear. They cost a lot to buy and to maintain. It is the consistent upkeep and surprise breakdowns that move the automobile to No. 10 on this list.
I know a new car is one of the best feeling in the world. And the new-car smell has very few rivals. But as time goes along, cars, trucks and SUV wear and tear. By that time we’re attached to the motorized vehicle and close to paying it off. But we all know we must deal with the aches and pains of a car.
Anybody who knows me will quickly tell you “Thomas does not like to talk on the phone.”
Despite my attempts to avoid conversion via the telephone or cellular phone, I still appreciate these inventions. Both devices contribute so much to the communication of modern-day society.
The telephone was created by Scottish-born inventor Alexander Graham Bell. Bell got the first patent for an electric telephone in 1876. Jump ahead about 100 years, and Motorola was working on a contraption that would bring communication to our bodies 24 hours, 7 days a week.
Motorola was the first company to produce a handheld mobile phone on April 3, 1973. After Martin Cooper of Motorola placed a call to his rival Dr. Joel S. Engel, the world has never been the same.
While I don’t use my cell phone for talking to others, I will text, watch YouTube, play solitaire, take pictures and record an interview with the device.
Thanks to my mom, I have to interact with the telephone at least three times a week. She will call at the most random times or when I am super busy just to see what I am doing. After a couple of choice words, I will answer either my cell or house phone. Once I hear my mom’s voice, all the hostility goes away. Thank God for this invention. The voice of your loved ones is just a few digits away.
8. Optical lenses
Just in time for middle school, I gained 50 pounds and needed eyeglasses. So my first few years of wearing glasses were painful from all the insults.
But as I matured and suffered an eye injury from contact lenses, I’ve grown to love a nice pair of frames. And the optical-style lenses in them carry the medicine I need to see every day. I cannot function without my glasses.
As I did more research on the invention of the optical lenses, this device has contributed to the world in a great way. Glasses, microscopes and telescopes have all used the optical lenses. Not only can we see what is right in front of us, we also can see into outer space. Optical lenses are nothing new. They were first developed by ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamians, with key theories of light and vision contributed by ancient Greeks.
I’m so glad the Greeks got the ball rolling. The optical lenses also plays a key part in my job. I use a camera almost every day. Optical lenses were instrumental components in the creation of cameras that assist in photography, film and television.
If I made this list 30 years ago, the television would have been the runaway No. 1 pick. Even in the year 2000, TV would have been an easy top 3 selection.
But the device invented in 1927 has been approaching its 100th birthday on a decline. As we transition from bubble-back TVs to flat screen televisions, consumers are starting to reinvest in the device.
Now the most owned thing is a smart TV. A 21-year-old smart man, Philo Taylor Farnsworth, invented the TV. Now a 21-year-old uses his or her phone with a couple of clicks on the television.
I’m guilty of this as well. As I compose this column, my LG cell phone is broadcasting on my Vizio 50-inch television, playing YouTube.
One thing hasn’t changed: I start my day by popping on the television with the remote. And before I go to sleep, I’m viewing the “idiot box.”
6. Athletic sneakers and a fitness watch
If you’re going to reach your daily goal of 10,000 steps, you must trust your fitness wrist watch is keeping up with it. Some portion of the day, you’ll need a pair of comfortable shoes to run, walk or hit the elliptical.
In 1917, Goodyear made the correlation and started to advertise Keds as an athletic shoe. They eventually became known as sneakers. Three years later, the father of the modern running shoe Adolf Dassler began making shoes. Activity trackers started to become popular in the past decade. The Apple Watch is the standard. I’m currently sporting a Samsung Gear Fit Pro.
The combination of good athletic sneakers and a fitness watch gives me no excuses to get my daily exercise in. I love eating, so I need to make sure I burn a few calories each day.
Speaking of eating, my home has enough food to last multiple weeks. This is all made possible by the refrigerator. Just like millions of others across the world, I can store food in a cool environment for days at a time with the worry of eating bacteria or pure poison.
The first cooling systems for food involved ice, and artificial refrigeration began in the mid-1750s. Then in 1834, the first working vapor-compression refrigeration system was built. Finally in 1913, refrigerators for the home were invented.
Now the technology on these things is impressive. You can get ice and water out of a refrigerator door. Freezers are located along the side now, and there is a storage area with the ideal temperature for fruits and veggies.
This appliance is a necessity for every structured home. I might go a day or two without using the stove. I might bypass my microwave for 24 hours. And what is a dishwasher?
But I can guarantee I will pull the door of that refrigerator open at least once before the sun goes down on a single day.
Charles Babbage is the father of the computer. The origins of the computer goes back several centuries. All the advances in the technology have us replacing our computers and laptops every three days now or at least consistently updating software.
Back then the growth of a computer took a little longer. It is argued that William Oughtred invented the first computer in 1622. Then Babbage came along and compiled the first computer resembling what we use today between 1833 and 1871.
By the 1980s, computers started popping up in homes and schools. They were used for business and entertainment.
A decade later games were designed for the computer to rival video game consoles. Since the new millennium, computers are a part of everyday life in the form of the PC or laptop.
I use a Mac daily at my office, and my laptop travels with me often. You might see us at a local eatery in Millington or Tipton County during the week. It’s nice to have access to …
I am able to almost do my job anywhere in the Memphis area thanks to Wi-Fi and the internet. Al Gore’s invention of the internet has changed the world tremendously.
Wait a minute … this just into my news desk. Al Gore is not the official inventor of the internet. According to my sources, ARPANET adopted TCP/IP on Jan. 1, 1983, and from there researchers began to assemble the “network of networks.” The online world as we’ve grown to know today took shape about 1990, when computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web.
Then in 1997, Wi-Fi was introduced to some areas, giving local networks wireless access to the internet.
Now Wi-Fi has exploded throughout the world. As long as you have a password, you can work on your computer or laptop without an Ethernet cord.
This Wi-Fi technology allows me to connect my phone to my TV to view YouTube and play my favorite songs.
I log online to research stories and for the Best Sellers’ List (shameless plug). I must admit I am at the point I take the internet and Wi-Fi for granted. But as soon as my modem’s light is flashing, I panic like the world is coming to an end – at least the World Wide Web.
Whoever was the first to slice bread, you have my deepest gratitude. But the best thing to hit the world in a technological sense was the invention of the wheel.
I’ve driven to Subway, Jersey Mike’s, Lenny’s, Jimmy John’s, Firehouse Subs and Jason’s Deli for many sandwiches over the years.
Four wheels have taken me to my favorite restaurants, college, work, the gym, running trail and church.
My refrigerator was brought into town on 18 wheels. All the things previously ranked on this list are assisted by the wheel. Either the product was shipped on a truck or people have driven to install it.
The wheel was invented by Mesopotamians around 3500 B.C., to be used in the creation of pottery. About 300 years after that, the wheel was put on a chariot, and the rest is history.
Earlier I mention how our chariots of today can be a pain in our wallets. But we pay the cost to get our wheels back. Any person who drives daily knows how inconvenient it can be without your wheels.
You can have the prettiest car in the world. The engine can be packed with power. And the interior of the vehicle can have all the latest technology. When it’s all said and done, that motorized vehicle is not moving without wheels.
This column was brought to you by technology. And all was made possible by electricity.
Those sweet, sweet currents of energy made my laptop work throughout the composition of this column. The light over my dining room table allowed me to see the keyboard. And the television playing YouTube from my phone in the backdrop serves my mind well.
Electricity is missed when it is gone. Every so often a natural disaster grabs our attention to appreciate friends, family, everyday life and the Higher Power. Then we quickly desire our precious electricity. Bless the men from MLG&W who hit the ground restoring our power after blackouts.
We give the credit to Thomas Edison in 1879 for hooking us up with electricity first. Historians trace electricity back to ancient Egypt and Greece.
I’m not here to argue who created electricity first. I’m here to give a proper salute to the invention that makes my life the most convenient on a daily basis. I love electricity so much that I’m about to hop in my car and drive to Downtown Memphis just to see the skyline lit up.
THOMAS SELLERS JR. is the editor of The Millington Star and both the sports editor and a weekly personal columnist for West 10 Media/Magic Valley Publishing. Contact him by phone at (901) 433-9138, by fax to (901) 529-7687 and by email to email@example.com.