I bought the previous generation Kodak DX6490 camera for $250 on eBay and received it seven days later. The camera has 3 times the resolution of my old digital camera, has digital video capability, an automatially rechargeable battery and 16MB of built-in digital memory. My old camera, which cost me about $500 five years ago, required me to purchase a memory chip, could not record video and burned through AA batteries like there was no tomorrow.
By 6:56 AM, I had recorded a short personal message to my friend Mike in San Francisco. I haven’t seen Mike in several months, so he also got a chance to see my new beard via the video.
By 7:02 AM, I had figured out how to transfer the video from my camera to my PC.
By 7:04 AM, I had shipped a 3 Megabyte file to my friend in San Francisco over my $30/month broadband internet connectivity (DSL).
In twelve minutes, I had produced and shipped a personalized video to a friend three thousand miles away.
My friend responded later that day at 5:52 PM, exactly 11 hours after I started my experiment. He told me that I would be the next American Idol (he is a very sarcastic fellow!).
In 2000, I could not have done this activity at the pricepoints mentioned. My DSL connection, which was slower than what I have now, cost me $90/month. A camera capable of recording digital video would have cost me over $1000. The cumbersome software surely would have slowed down my production to at least three times what it took me today.
Ten years ago, in 1996, recording a digital video would have required a conversion process from traditional video. The standard VCR technology would have cost about $500 to record, but the translation software and devices might have cost another $1000 in specialty software and hardware. The entire process would have taken several hours. Just transferring the files over my 56K Frame Relay (for which I paid $500/month) would have taken 10-20 minutes.
Twenty years ago, the process might have taken a custom studio, several thousands of dollars and would have taken some custom work on both sides of the connection to make the transfer happen electronically. It probably would have been faster (and certainly cheaper) to ship a video at that point.
To summarize, looking from the past forward, and how tough it would be to create this digital video and ship it electronically to someone:
1986 (not practical) Over $10,000 (est. equipment and connectivity). Over 1 day of effort.
1996 (possible but expensive) $1500 equipment. $500/month Frame Relay connection. 4 hours
2000 (cumbersome) $1000 for digital video camera (est.) $90/month high speed DSL. 45 minutes of total effort
2006 (simple): $250 equipment, $30/month connection, total operation - 14 minutes
You get the picture (and more!).