When I was but a mere boy making my first turns, boots buckled the other way 'round, skis were retained by way of safety straps and lift rides were long, cold and uncovered.
But first, it's really amazing what hasn't changed. Is boot design really so different? I look down at my feet and see plastic, with shell and cuff, four buckles. Rear entry came and went a couple times, but we're still in the same boots as 30 years ago.
Bindings? I remember Bob Goldstone, the guy who got me into skiing, proclaiming at one point that "the boy" (me) was "ready for Nevadas." The bindings mounted on my Dynastars, circa 2007, look a lot like the N57 Nevadas I was rewarded with after my first descent of Fall Line.
Skis, sure, ski shape has changed. But we went to monocoque and back. There's still wood or foam in cores. Cracked edges didn't catch on. We went to GLM, then long, then short again. The new skis are easier to pack into a car, but they don't feel much different to me.
Apparel? Sure, there's Gore Tex, and soft shell. But pound for pound down's still warmer than anything, wool is still alive and kicking, and after years of trying and buying gloves, I'm back to mittens. Mom was right, they really are the warmest.
To me, detachable lifts aside (and that was a huge development, though at my home hills, actual and spiritual, they're either not present or not a real factor), it's been the little things that have made skiing better. Those reverse buckles first made by Lange -- man, was it hard to buckle up the old boots, especially for kids! Plastic base layers, starting with polypropelene. I first experienced these in the wet Northwest. Revelation.
And ski brakes. Has there been a nobler invention than the ski brake? How did we live without them? Was there anything more insidious, more odious, more frustrating than the safety strap? They must have driven hundreds of skiers away. Then again, given the crowds on groomed runs these days, maybe that wouldn't be so bad.