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The great power-up turnoff
We're sick of waiting for our machines to start
Written at Norwich Airport and dispatched to via a free wi-fi service at my Schiphol hotel near Amsterdam.

When I was young, our home radio worked on batteries because we didn't have electricity. You switched it on and it had to warm up before it made a sound. I'm now experiencing a digital déjà vu.

Thermionic tubes, or valves in UK parlance, came before the transistor and integrated circuit. They were big, bulky, made of glass and got hot. Early radio and TV sets used vast amounts of metal, glass and plastic compared with today's devices.

In those early days, everything you switched on had to warm up before it would work. The heaters in a thermionic tube had to come up to full temperature before anything would function.

    So you switched on the radio, record player, or TV and waited anywhere between 15 and 45 seconds before anything audio or visual happened.

    Then the transistor arrived and everything changed. The age of instant gratification was born. Turn the knob or flick a switch, and instant music.

    It seems that joy was short-lived. In a peak of retrograde thinking just about everything now has to boot up, and that can take several minutes.

    Digital technology has catapulted us back in time with switch-on delays packed into everything from mobile phones and PCs to Blu-ray players. Now it is not uncommon to have to wait anything between one and three minutes.

    Could these delays be why everything has that little red LED glowing in the dark, and so much of our hardware is in standby mode instead of off and saving energy? We don't change much, but our technology does, and we certainly don't like delay in any form.