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What Will Computers Look Like in 30 Years?
64 is the New 16
The picture above is the front panel from my very first computer, a 1982, Data General Nova 1200. It was the cat's pajamas because it allowed me to enter two characters (16 bits) at a time, instead of eight bits (a byte). I was pleased as punchcards to enter my ten-letter name in under a minute in binary code. Today, I talk into my 64 bit smart phone, and as quick as my kids, it talks back.
My point, (before I forget it), is that I went from toggle switches to voice recognition in just 30 years. From DOS to Windows. From the first Mac to the latest iPhone. From Pong to Angry Birds. What advancements will I, (yes, I mean me), see in the next 30 years? What changes in computers will you see in your lifetime? It's truly mind boggling.
Before posting an article about the future of computers, any blogger worth their weight in silicon will research Moore's Law, the law named after Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore.
Moore's Law, (more of an observation turned prediction that has more or less held up), is described in this Intel infographic:
Since transistors are the work horses of a computer, doubling the transistors generally means doubling the computer processing power. And it's not just CPUs that are improving at an exponential rate. Every couple of years, storage devices like memory and hard drives are bigger and faster, displays are better, and cameras capture better images.
From Boyle to Newton, the best laws are self-explanatory, come with a catchy phrase and a cool drawing. There is probably some research that goes along with it, but I imagine that can be exhausting. Based on my personal (computer) experiences, I propose a new technology predicting law.
Computers of Tomorrow
Today's computers operate using semiconductors, metals and electricity. Future computers might use atoms, dna or light. Moore's Law predicts doubling, but when computers go from quartz to quantum, the factor will be off the scale.
What would the world be like, if computers the size of molecules become a reality? These are the types of computers that could be everywhere, but never seen. Nano sized bio-computers that could target specific areas inside your body. Giant networks of computers, in your clothing, your house, your car. Entrenched in almost every aspect of our lives and yet you may never give them a single thought.
What will computers look like in 30 years? Trick question. You won't see them at all.
Ubiquitous computers are in the works.
Grasping the Technologies
Understanding the theories behind these future computer technologies is not for the meek. My research into quantum computers was made all the more difficult after I learned that in light of her constant interference, it is theoretically possible my mother-in-law could be in two places at once.
If you have the heart, take a gander at the most promising new computer technologies. If not, dare to imagine the ways that billions of tiny, powerful computers will change our society.
About Jack Hanson
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