I just came across this lovely nugget of history courtesy of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. It's Arthur C. Clarke in 1974 predicting how, by the year 2001, we'll all have small computers that can fit on a desk in our own home, and they'll even be inter-connected with other computers across the world. We'll take them for granted as just another appliance in the house. Outrageous!
Bare in mind that he's making this prediction:
- At a time when computers tended to take up entire rooms and cost on the order of hundreds of thousands of dollars;
- Several years before anyone even produced a recognisable personal computer;
- When the Internet as we know it now was essentially still a research project, existent for barely five years and pretty much restricted to a handful of universities and government agencies.
It's a remarkably good prediction, not just because it anticipates computer miniaturisation, but because of the timing, the critical part of any prediction. By 2001, the Internet was indeed a mainstream element of society, with a third of people in the developed world online, increasing to half just three years later.