It is hard for my brain to stretch that far, but when I try really hard, I can grasp that the astounding technology change we’ve seen in the last 30 years is no more than the opening chapter for the future.
My latest brain stretch is courtesy of The Next Great Growth Cycle, by Mark Mills.
He describes the astounding technology growth from 1950 through 1980 that left people wondering what could possibly come next.
Sitting in 1980…
It was understandable that people then did not see the next wave coming. They were witnesses to such momentous change over the 30 years since 1950 that it was hard to envision what could come next, other than incremental variants on what was already in place. They did expect more computing and communications, to be sure, but mainly more mainframes and landlines.
Look at the performance indicators in the previous 30 years:
From 1950, when Reagan was the president of the Screen Actors Guild, to his becoming president, we went from the Univac vacuum-tube computer to the ubiquitous IBM 370 mainframes. Computer speeds rose 1,000 fold while computing costs collapsed 10,000 fold.
That is astounding. How could technology possibly improve on a 10,000 fold drop in computing cost? Could it possibly get any better?
What has happened since 1980? Consider this:
Over the past 30 years, compute-communicate technologies have advanced even more than they did from 1950 to 1980.
Computing speeds are up 200 thousand fold since 1980, while costs have collapsed 1 million fold. We’ve seen the emergence of wireless networks with speeds 1 million times faster and bandwidth costs down 100 fold.
If you thought a 10,000 fold drop in computing costs were great in 1980, what can we say about another million fold drop?
Computer speeds are so fast that brokerage firms are buying office buildings so they can have a platform for a straight line transmission of data from Chicago to New York. Why? Routing signals by some tens or hundred of miles off a straight line makes a difference in trading speeds when considering the speed of light. A straight line makes a difference over a thousand miles. Astounding. (I don’t have the article citation, which is a fail for a blogger, but I won’t take the time now to look for it.)
Continued in part 2.
(h/t Carpe Diem)