Thursday, October 06, 2011

The Stuff Of Fiction (Science Fiction)

I'm not much of a fan of Apple computers, but there is no way that I can deny the legacy that Steve Jobs, departed from us today, has changed the world.

The computer revolution may have started with IBM and their glorified cash registers, but it was visionaries like Mr. Jobs who saw the true potential in the personal computer. Think back to the days before Apple. Think about how the world has changed.

In the early days, computers were really not much more than electronic abaci. They were large - often taking-up whole rooms, noisy - due to the click of the relays and the hum of the transformers, and hot - they used a lot of energy and gave off a lot of heat. And for all that, they were basically adding machines. 

Remember, computers were things that engineers needed to replace the slide rules they carried around with them. Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corporation once famously asked "Who would ever want a computer in their home?" Steve Jobs knew the answer - Everyone!

The Apple may not have been the first Personal Computer to hit the market, that honorific goes to the Altair 8800. The Altair 8800 was a big, boxy, computing machine that you could order in a kit, that hobbyists could assemble themselves over a couple days and then sit back as it did lots of basic math. And even though the machines had only the basics of what we (in the jaded current day) would consider to be computing power, they were wildly popular. Well, wildly popular for the day. They sold by the thousands. (As opposed by the millions in which iPods sell today.)

The difference was that Steve Jobs (and his partner Steve Wozniak) saw the potential. They sold a machine that came pre-assembled and pre-loaded with an operating system that could, with a little knowledge be programmed to do really cool math.

And who can deny how the world has changed. If you had told me in those days that I would one not one but two computers. That both would be small enough that I would be able to carry around with me, that one of them would be able to understand what I SAY to it... Well, let's just say that I would have never believed it.

Today, computers are ubiquitous. From the laptops, and desktops at the office to the computers at home, it is not hard to spot part of the legacy. The smart-phones that many of us carry are a part of that legacy, as are the tablets with which we entertain ourselves on the go. And that is only the computers that are obvious to the eye. What about the smart appliances, the web connected televisions, and all the digital media that we don't even think about. All this too is a part of the popularization of computers.

Things that used to take days and huge effort to accomplish are done today in minutes. Computers have changed publishing, entertainment, and business. The personal computer has reshaped the world. No man does it alone and nobody could have, but Steve Jobs, was a visionary whose contributions nobody can deny. He will be missed.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you will have a good day!

Don Bergquist - October 06, 2011 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

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