97-year-old Olive Horrell blown away by visit to Google’s campus

google garden
She said she wanted to see the future, and she got the next best thing — a visit to Google’s headquarters. In what may be the most endearing footage captured in 2015, 97-year-old great-grandmother Olive Horrell took a trip to Google’s Mountain View campus as part of the Wish of a Lifetime initiative. And during her VIP tour of the tech giant’s office — the home of some of the most cutting edge technology — Horrell found that in just under a century, the world has undergone some major changes.

Growing up in the first half of the 20th century, “We had no electricity, no radio, horse and buggy,” Horrell told CNET‘s Lexy Savvides. The first computer she ever saw was three feet by three feet and made use of punch cards. So when she donned a Google Cardboard for the first time, to say that she was blown away actually seems like something of an understatement. “There’s no way I can understand that,” she said after taking a virtual reality tour. “The horse. I was so sure I could touch the horse.”

Horrell has lived through the Great Depression, seen 17 presidents come and go, and experienced firsthand the breakneck rapidity of 21st century innovation. Even so, “Certainly in my wildest dreams, I couldn’t conceive of what I saw today,” she said of her visit. During her day-long excursion, which sounds an awful lot like the tech version of a visit to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, Horrell met the Google Doodle team, took a ride in a self-driving car, and watched Translate, Cardboard, Photos, and Liftware Teams give her exclusive demos of products that may not even be in the public market yet.

During her Photos demonstration, Horrell was amazed by Google’s face-detection software, saying, “Push a button and you have history right in front of you. This is very mind-boggling for me.”

Mind-boggling as it may be, Horrell is by no means out of touch with the tech world. As a child, the great-grandmother was interested in engineering, but was ultimately discouraged from pursuing a career in the field by her father. But today, she’s as tech savvy as they come, reading books on her Kindle, sending emails from a laptop, and even calling Apple Support for the occasional question.

“I’m intrigued with the changes I’ve seen in my life,” said Horrell told the Associated Press of her visit.  “It’s a real learning experience for me today … Life has got to be fun.”

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