Predicting the Future
I am always trying to predict to future 5, 10, 20 years from now… (I am also trying to create the future, too, with my products… We’ll see…) Looking back at predictions from 1990, I seen and heard a number of predictions that have or are close to coming true.
I audited the first few lectures on a course on Computer Networking at Harvard around 1990. I remember the professor was presenting the state of wireless technology as it wouldl be in the 2000s, indicating boldly that wireless technology, especially telephony, would be pervasive and that phone numbers would cease to signify a physical location but rather a person, who would always be carrying a mobile phone with him or her.
I also recalled reading market research papers in 1990 predicting that the standard machines would have 32 megabytes by 1996 and similar increased performance in clock rate. It just boggled my mind, even though I knew it was probably true given Moore’s law.
The big three operating system companies each had at least one video capturing a vision of a far-off future. Apple started with the Knowledge Navigator video. Microsoft’s Bill Gates presented at Comdex in two instances (1990 and 1994) their vision of the future entitled,“Information In Your Fingertips.” IBM also produced a similar video, whose title I have since forgotten. Although the speech recognition and natural language processing demonstrated in some of the videos are still far off, it’s remarkable how much else has already been achieved.
The prototype that probably has taken the longest to materialize in commercial form today is probably Alan Kay’s Dynabook from the late 60’s and early 70’s. It’s recognizable in the form of Microsoft’s Tablet PC.