What will come next? The Authors Collection
May 25, 2014
James R. Callan
MY FATHER FELT like he lived in the greatest time. When he was a little tyke living in southwest Texas, his family had a horse and buggy. Of course, most of the time, since they lived in town, he just walked wherever he wanted to go. But on special occasions, there was a comfortable, smooth, lazy buggy ride. Just sit and let the horse do the work.
Later, his Dad bought a car. This was an incredible invention. The seats were much softer than the buggy’s bench. It zipped along at a nice pace. And you didn’t have to clean up after it when it stood in the yard for a day. You didn’t have to fork hay into its stall. And it had a great horn that sounded like au-ooga. And the next car the family had came with windows that kept most of the dust out. And should it rain, which it did every year, you didn’t get wet riding in the car.
And from there, things just kept advancing and he lived to see a man walk on the moon. Surely such progress would never again be matched in a person’s lifetime. From riding on horses to walking on the moon was an incredible leap for mankind.
Would such advancement in one person’s life ever be equaled?
When I was much, much younger, I visited the State Fair of Texas and saw an amazing sight. A machine they called a computer, the size of a small house, could do many calculations in just a minute’s time. It could read the holes punched into cards or a tape faster than a magician’s hands. It could print out answers as quick as a fairway barker could talk. And it could store hundred’s of pieces of information and find them at a later time. Amazing.
From there, we moved to machines that were smaller and faster. Storage increased. When I bought my first computer, it had a memory of 32,000 bytes and each byte could store one letter or symbol. It had a disk that could store over a million bytes of information for rapid recovery. And, it would fit into a ten by ten foot room. Our next machine had 256,000 bytes of memory and could do thousands of operations in one second. Its disk could store 80 million bytes of information, cost $20,000, was the size of a large washing machine, and weighted 1,000 pounds.
Of course, today, your smart phone probably has 4,000 times as much memory. Most hard disks on a laptop have a hundred times as much capacity as my second computer and rather than a thousand pounds, weigh mere ounces. Rather than the $20,000, today’s 8 billion byte disk might cost $200. For a better comparison, in 1980 I paid an average of $250 for one megabyte of disk storage. Today, I would pay about 2.5 cents for a megabyte of disk storage.
The progress in technology in my lifetime is even more dramatic than the progress in transportation my father saw in his lifetime. What will be the next great advancement? We are probably seeing the beginnings of it now. How many of us recognize it?
Please click the book cover image to read more about James R. Callan and his novels.