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The age of baby boomers has included massive changes in both the social structure and in the development of science and technology. Baby boomers have experienced radical alterations in human rights and in the necessity for protecting the environment. For some of this largest generation, the world has changed from one in which radio was the predominant technology to one in which computers have become almost necessities.
The age of baby boomers was ushered in with the first way of drastically increased births in 1946. After the conclusion of the second World War, the United States and much of the world entered a time of relative peace and prosperity. Both of these factors encourage the choice to have children and this “baby boom” trend continued until 1964.
The age of baby boomers has been significant if for no other reason than their large numbers. The post war baby boom period of sustained high birth rates produced an estimated 77.6 million people. The following periods of Gen X and Generation Y saw considerable decreases in the birth rate. Of course, these generations have also seen wars in the Mideast and severe and unsettling fluctuations in the economy.
The age of baby boomers has embraced social changes of a broad spectrum. The 1950's and 1960's brought social movements that impacted every part of the American society. The civil rights movement brought voting and other rights to African-American citizens and the integration of public schools. The women's movement made great strides in securing equal pay and equal employment and educational opportunities. With the environmental movement and events such as Earth Day came greater awareness of the role of ecology and nature in everyday life.
Baby boomers have seen striking changes in technology. Computers have transformed from balky and unwieldy machines found only in universities and large corporations to devices as small as notebooks and even small enough to be part of “smart” cellular phones. In fact, they have seen the telephone go from a black only device with a dial to one that fits in a pocket and is used by a majority of Americans.
Things that did not exist before the age of baby boomers include space flight, satellite communications, organ transplants, coronary bypass procedures, artificial hearts, cat scans. MRI's, DNA testing, and even effective chemotherapy and other treatments to cure many cancers. Boomers have seen their music come from 33 RPM albums and 45RPM singles to cassette tapes to CD's to music video DVD's. Televisions have gone from analog to digital, from enormous cabinets to flat screens that can hang on a wall.
The age of baby boomers has been one of constant progress and change, some of it so profound as to take the breath away. Even things once taken for granted such as the determination of death have changed. No longer is the absence of a heartbeat the gold standard for that. Baby boomers have experienced the constant challenge for the law and ethics to keep up with the implications of technological change.