With as frequently as I find myself doing an internet search for information for my novel in progress, I realize writers years ago, as few as 20 something and as far back as forever, were tough literary cookies. If they needed a piece of information, they had to go get, maybe even at the library, up hill, both ways, IN THE SNOW.
Whilst I'm old enough to remember card catalogs (shut IT if you're about think or say something snarky about my age), most of my writing life has occurred when I could easily push a few buttons and access a library's worth of information in minutes. How did this affect people's process, I wonder. Even with the virtual info cornucopia of the interwebs, I've got places in my manuscript that say, "Yada, yada, yada—research X," so I don't lose momentum when there's something I can't find easily and quickly. I guess writers really had to write what they knew or be willing to just run with imagination and hope for the best. Or put in some hardcore serious research time for just about anything.
But maybe the flip side is that readers used to be more apt to take a writer's work at face value. Now when we read something, if a detail seems off, we can just as easily put our book or e-reader down and do a search to check if something is feasible/accurate/realistic.
Regardless of how the process of writing and reading has changed, I just want to acknowledge the prowess of writers past. They hand wrote, fought typewriters, and braved card catalogs. Writers of the past, I salute you!