Reading Notes

R000701: The Revolution Yet to Happen

Bell, Gordon., Gray, James N.  The Revolution Yet to Happen.  Chapter 1, pp. 5-32 in Denning, Peter J., Metcalfe, Robert M. (eds.)  Beyond Calculation: The Next Fifty Years of Computing.  Copernicus Springer-Verlag (New York: 1997).

Last updated 2002-10-13-12:14 -0700 (pdt)


I didn't find this section particularly exciting, and my experience of the history of computing is different, though I can confirm some of this.

Here are two things that stand out for me.

Connecting to the physical world (pp.15-17)

Looking ahead 50 years, the authors observe that "we know of no technology in 1997 to attack paper's broad use!"

"One can argue that paper (and the notion of the human interpretation of paper-stored programs such as algorithms, contracts [laws and wills], directions, handbooks, maps, recipes, and stories) was our first computer.  ... Programs and their human interpreters are like the 'Harvard' computer architecture, which clearly separated program and data.

"In 1997, magnetic tape has a projected lifetime of fifteen years; CDs are estimated to last fifty years provided one can find the reader, and microfilm is projected to last two hundred years (though unfortunately, computers can't read it yet) and acid-free paper over five hundred years.

"The potential to reduce the use of paper introduces a significant problem:

How are we going to ensure accessibility of the information, including the platforms and programs we create in fifty or five hundred years that our ancestors had the luck or good fortune of providing with paper?  How are we even going to assure accessibility of today's HTML references over the next five decades?"

Networks: A convergence and interoperability among all nets (p.17)

Metcalfe's Law is introduced.  It is very interesting:


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