Wednesday, September 17, 2008

102 Years Ago

The year is 1906.
One hundred and two years ago.
What a difference a century makes!
Here are some of the U.S. statistics for the Year 1906:

* The average life expectancy in the U.S. was 47 years.
* Only 14 percent of the homes in the U.S. had a bathtub.
* Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone
* A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost eleven dollars.
* There were only 8,000 cars in the U.S., and only 144 miles of paved roads.
* The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.
* Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa, and Tennessee were each more heavily populated than California. With a mere 1.4 million people, California was only the 21st most populous state in the Union.
* The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower!
* The average wage in the U.S. was 22 cents per hour.
* The average U.S. worker made between $200 and $400 per year .
* A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year, a dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.
* More than 95 percent of all births in the U.S. took place at HOME.
* Ninety percent of all U.S. doctors had NO COLLEGE EDUCATION! Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press AND the government as “substandard.”
* Sugar cost four cents a pound.
* Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.
* Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.
* Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo.
* Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from entering into their country for any reason.
* Five leading causes of death in the U.S. were:

1. Pneumonia and influenza
2. Tuberculosis
3. Diarrhea
4. Heart disease
5. Stroke

* The American flag had 45 stars.
* Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Alaska hadn’t been admitted to the Union yet..
* The population of Las Vegas, Nevada, was only 30!!!!
* Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and ice tea hadn’t been invented yet.There was no Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.
* Two out of every 10 U.S. adults couldn’t read or write. Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school..
* Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at the local corner drugstores. Back then pharmacists said, “Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health.” ( Shocking? DUH! )
* Eighteen percent of households in the U.S. had at least one full-time servant or domestic help.
* There were about 230 reported murders in the ENTIRE ! U.S.A. !

Try to imagine what it may be like in another 100 years.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

50 Years Ago...

The reason that I wanted to post today was because of something that my class discussed today with respect to poor usability testing - this month is the 50th anniversary of the Ford Edsel (aka "the flop heard 'round the world"). For anyone who doesn't know what all of the jokes are about, below are a few examples of the poor usability testing that proliferated the Edsel project:

Lack of user input: Designers the non-standard feature of a push-button transmission in the middle of the steering wheel.

Inadequate Design: Where other cars had horizontal chrome grilles, the Edsel had a vertical chrome oval in its grille. This did not let in enough air flow.

Shortchanged quality assurance: The car suffered from perpetual quality issues, improper assembly and missing parts. The common joke was that the name stood for” Every day something else leaks”.

Developer gold-plating: Designers created 18 different model variations.

Politics placed over substance: The name of the car, suggested by an executive, was named after the son of the founder, Henry Ford, despite a significant investment in time and money in the naming process.

Silver-bullet syndrome: Marketing executive Walter Thomas suggested "Let's give away a [bleeping] pony," Ford decided to advertise a promotion in which If you agreed to test-drive an Edsel, your name would be entered into a lottery at the dealership, with the 1000 winners getting a pony.