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Notable blunders in computer predictions

 
 
Scott Gardner
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Posts: n/a
 
      05-31-2004
I was thinking today that for all our technical prowess, and the
amazing rate of technological development, we're very bad about
actually predicting HOW all of this new technology will used in the
future.

Probably the two most famous gaffes are IBM saying back in the sixties
that there was probably a market for a half-dozen computers at most in
the world, and Bill Gates' famous assertion that "640k should be
enough for anybody".

As examples from more recent years, I was thinking today about CD-ROM
drives and video cards. When CD-ROM drives first began getting
popular, the great advantage to them was going to be that we would no
longer need to load software onto our hard drive. There would be a
very small "loader program" on our hard drive for each application,
but the applications would actually be run off of the CD-ROM. We all
know how long THAT lasted.

When AGP video cards first hit the market, one of the advantages was
that you could use part of your main system RAM as video ram. This
sounded like a great idea, since main RAM is so much cheaper than an
equivalent amount of video RAM. As a result, one of the major video
card manufacturers (I wish I could remember which one) said that even
a high-end AGP video card shouldn't need more than 4 or 8 megabytes of
video RAM installed on it. Again, we all know how long that idea
lasted.

Can anyone think of any other cases where a new technology or
invention ended up being used in a completely unpredicted manner?

Scott Gardner


 
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Andrew Watiker
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Posts: n/a
 
      05-31-2004
When AOL and Time Warner merged it was supposed to be bringing together old
and new technolagy. That didn't last too long either.

Andrew Watiker

"Scott Gardner" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed)...
> I was thinking today that for all our technical prowess, and the
> amazing rate of technological development, we're very bad about
> actually predicting HOW all of this new technology will used in the
> future.
>
> Probably the two most famous gaffes are IBM saying back in the sixties
> that there was probably a market for a half-dozen computers at most in
> the world, and Bill Gates' famous assertion that "640k should be
> enough for anybody".
>
> As examples from more recent years, I was thinking today about CD-ROM
> drives and video cards. When CD-ROM drives first began getting
> popular, the great advantage to them was going to be that we would no
> longer need to load software onto our hard drive. There would be a
> very small "loader program" on our hard drive for each application,
> but the applications would actually be run off of the CD-ROM. We all
> know how long THAT lasted.
>
> When AGP video cards first hit the market, one of the advantages was
> that you could use part of your main system RAM as video ram. This
> sounded like a great idea, since main RAM is so much cheaper than an
> equivalent amount of video RAM. As a result, one of the major video
> card manufacturers (I wish I could remember which one) said that even
> a high-end AGP video card shouldn't need more than 4 or 8 megabytes of
> video RAM installed on it. Again, we all know how long that idea
> lasted.
>
> Can anyone think of any other cases where a new technology or
> invention ended up being used in a completely unpredicted manner?
>
> Scott Gardner
>
>



 
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Beachcomber
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Posts: n/a
 
      06-01-2004

>> Can anyone think of any other cases where a new technology or
>> invention ended up being used in a completely unpredicted manner?
>>
>> Scott Gardner
>>


Computers in the 1960's meant problem solving machines...
Specifically, math problems. If you were studying engineering or
advanced math, programming a computer was useful to you.

You just had to have the patience to punch those silly cards. Except
for certain scientific disciplines, there just wasn't much interest in
computers from many academic departments.

Few if anyone realized the great advances in graphics that would come
in the future, or the incredible cost of scale that would make a
computer a commodity product available to almost anyone for a low
cost. Steve Jobs is one person who was aware of this in the early
70s with his simplified vision of a computer factory where the raw
materials enter at one end, mostly silicon (sand) and finished
computers emerge at the other end.

The business world thought computers to be a novelty of use only to
gamers and scientists until the killer app program "Visi-Calc" came
out in the early 80's, the world's first commercial spreadsheet
program.

Today's young people may not be aware of how late in the century it
was before the Internet became mainstream (about 1993-1994) even
though the early military model of a computer network goes back to the
late sixties.

Before that, clunky computer modem driven BBS services served as a
model for exchanging files and information. France built a nationwide
1200 Baud teletext service (the Minitel) during the 1980's in an early
effort to exchange digital information.

Finally, those of you who got online about that time may remember all
of the taboos, prohibitions, and netiquette that discouraged any
commercial use of the Internet. This was in the days where .orgs and
..edus outnumbered .coms
 
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Michael-NC
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Posts: n/a
 
      06-01-2004

"Beachcomber" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed)...
>
> >> Can anyone think of any other cases where a new technology or
> >> invention ended up being used in a completely unpredicted manner?
> >>
> >> Scott Gardner
> >>

>
> Computers in the 1960's meant problem solving machines...
> Specifically, math problems. If you were studying engineering or
> advanced math, programming a computer was useful to you.
>
> You just had to have the patience to punch those silly cards. Except
> for certain scientific disciplines, there just wasn't much interest in
> computers from many academic departments.
>
> Few if anyone realized the great advances in graphics that would come
> in the future, or the incredible cost of scale that would make a
> computer a commodity product available to almost anyone for a low
> cost. Steve Jobs is one person who was aware of this in the early
> 70s with his simplified vision of a computer factory where the raw
> materials enter at one end, mostly silicon (sand) and finished
> computers emerge at the other end.


Bad example. Jobs blundered when he refused to license Mac computers and
left the door wide open for MS to dominate. Bill owes every penny he has to
Steve Jobs.

 
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Scott Gardner
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      06-01-2004
On Tue, 01 Jun 2004 01:33:24 GMT, "Michael-NC"
<(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

>
>"Beachcomber" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
>news:(E-Mail Removed)...
>>
>> >> Can anyone think of any other cases where a new technology or
>> >> invention ended up being used in a completely unpredicted manner?
>> >>
>> >> Scott Gardner
>> >>

>>
>> Computers in the 1960's meant problem solving machines...
>> Specifically, math problems. If you were studying engineering or
>> advanced math, programming a computer was useful to you.
>>
>> You just had to have the patience to punch those silly cards. Except
>> for certain scientific disciplines, there just wasn't much interest in
>> computers from many academic departments.
>>
>> Few if anyone realized the great advances in graphics that would come
>> in the future, or the incredible cost of scale that would make a
>> computer a commodity product available to almost anyone for a low
>> cost. Steve Jobs is one person who was aware of this in the early
>> 70s with his simplified vision of a computer factory where the raw
>> materials enter at one end, mostly silicon (sand) and finished
>> computers emerge at the other end.

>
>Bad example. Jobs blundered when he refused to license Mac computers and
>left the door wide open for MS to dominate. Bill owes every penny he has to
>Steve Jobs.


True, but I wonder if the Macintosh would be the same product today if
Jobs had licensed everything out and Mac "clones" began popping up
everywhere. One thing that's always impressed me about my parents'
Macintosh is that the hardware and the operating system seem very
tightly and cleanly integrated. Not surprising, since they're coming
from the same company. How much harder would it be if there were
dozens of companies making Macintosh "compatible" motherboards?

Scott Gardner


 
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Oldus Fartus
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Posts: n/a
 
      06-01-2004

"Michael-NC" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:E1Ruc.19779$(E-Mail Removed) m...
>


> Bad example. Jobs blundered when he refused to license Mac computers and
> left the door wide open for MS to dominate. Bill owes every penny he has

to
> Steve Jobs.
>


I wonder whether that is true? When the PowerPC was introduced Apple
licensed clone manufacturers, but very quickly revoked the licenses when
Jobs came back into the fold. One could easily argue that Apple would
completely lose control of the product just as IBM did with the "IBM
compatible" to the extent where they are now just another clone maker.

Having said that though, I would like to see Apple port their OS to x86
processors.

--
Cheers
Oldus Fartus


 
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ProfGene
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Posts: n/a
 
      06-01-2004
Who could have predicted that cell phones would be used for taking pictures
or sending text messages. People did envision a video phone but that is
different. Also who would have thought that people would be using computers
to talk to each other and even see each other in remote locations all around
the world. I remember how thrilled I was seven or eight years ago when I
was chatting with someone from mainland china in a text room and now I have
illustrated a book for an Iranian translator whom I have never met which
will be published in Iran. I also chatted to his English class and showed
him my paintings by holding them in front of a little video camera. He even
asked me what are you drinking. So Marshal McKluen's Global Village has
become a reality. He predicted that people would work from home back in the
sixties though his prediction that the great traffic jam of commuters would
end has not come true.
"Scott Gardner" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed)...
> I was thinking today that for all our technical prowess, and the
> amazing rate of technological development, we're very bad about
> actually predicting HOW all of this new technology will used in the
> future.
>
> Probably the two most famous gaffes are IBM saying back in the sixties
> that there was probably a market for a half-dozen computers at most in
> the world, and Bill Gates' famous assertion that "640k should be
> enough for anybody".
>
> As examples from more recent years, I was thinking today about CD-ROM
> drives and video cards. When CD-ROM drives first began getting
> popular, the great advantage to them was going to be that we would no
> longer need to load software onto our hard drive. There would be a
> very small "loader program" on our hard drive for each application,
> but the applications would actually be run off of the CD-ROM. We all
> know how long THAT lasted.
>
> When AGP video cards first hit the market, one of the advantages was
> that you could use part of your main system RAM as video ram. This
> sounded like a great idea, since main RAM is so much cheaper than an
> equivalent amount of video RAM. As a result, one of the major video
> card manufacturers (I wish I could remember which one) said that even
> a high-end AGP video card shouldn't need more than 4 or 8 megabytes of
> video RAM installed on it. Again, we all know how long that idea
> lasted.
>
> Can anyone think of any other cases where a new technology or
> invention ended up being used in a completely unpredicted manner?
>
> Scott Gardner
>
>



 
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derek / nul
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      06-01-2004
On Tue, 1 Jun 2004 10:38:34 +0800, "Oldus Fartus" <(E-Mail Removed)>
wrote:

>
>"Michael-NC" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
>news:E1Ruc.19779$(E-Mail Removed) om...
>>

>
>> Bad example. Jobs blundered when he refused to license Mac computers and
>> left the door wide open for MS to dominate. Bill owes every penny he has

>to
>> Steve Jobs.
>>

>
>I wonder whether that is true? When the PowerPC was introduced Apple
>licensed clone manufacturers, but very quickly revoked the licenses when
>Jobs came back into the fold. One could easily argue that Apple would
>completely lose control of the product just as IBM did with the "IBM
>compatible" to the extent where they are now just another clone maker.
>
>Having said that though, I would like to see Apple port their OS to x86
>processors.


Why, osx is a bsd clone?
 
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Beachcomber
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Posts: n/a
 
      06-01-2004
On Tue, 01 Jun 2004 19:55:39 +1000, derek / nul <(E-Mail Removed)>
wrote:

>On Tue, 1 Jun 2004 10:38:34 +0800, "Oldus Fartus" <(E-Mail Removed)>
>wrote:
>
>>
>>"Michael-NC" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
>>news:E1Ruc.19779$(E-Mail Removed). com...
>>>

>>
>>> Bad example. Jobs blundered when he refused to license Mac computers and
>>> left the door wide open for MS to dominate. Bill owes every penny he has

>>to
>>> Steve Jobs.
>>>

>>
>>I wonder whether that is true? When the PowerPC was introduced Apple
>>licensed clone manufacturers, but very quickly revoked the licenses when
>>Jobs came back into the fold. One could easily argue that Apple would
>>completely lose control of the product just as IBM did with the "IBM
>>compatible" to the extent where they are now just another clone maker.
>>
>>Having said that though, I would like to see Apple port their OS to x86
>>processors.

>
>Why, osx is a bsd clone?


I used to work for Apple back in those days (early 1980's) and yes, it
was apparent to us insiders that the company had blundered in several
ways. The corporate mindset at the time was that the Lisa Computer
was going to be sold mostly to Fortune 500 companies (for $10,000) and
that the emerging Macintosh was the Computer for the rest of us. One
early problem was that the first Macintosh models were a piece of
useless junk. In order to load an app or copy a disk, you had to
swap your disk in and out of the Mac's drive sometimes 20 times or so.
This was because of a memory chip shortage. (The first Mac's had 128k
of RAM - That's correct k not M!). Also the early software was
buggy... I remember demonstrating spreadsheats when the famous Mac
"Bomb Message" would appear and freeze up the computer. Sometimes you
even had to stick a paper clip in the drive to get your disk out.

Macs did not take off until the 1984 or so with the release of the
Laserwriter Printer (for $3000 or so). Eventually the price came down
and desktop publishing WYSIWYG evolved. It was a close call.
Businesses and individuals now had a small printing shop in their
office and could put fancy type in reports without going to a
typesetter.

Another major blunder is detailed in the movie "Pirates of Silicon
Valley" occured when Steve Jobs gave the secrets of the mouse/GUI
software to Bill Gates and enabled MS to come out with Windows. (Jobs
had originally obtained this innovative software from Xerox - which is
another story of a bigtime corporate blunder - Xerox, in this case!)

Even though the first versions of Windows sucked big time, it was
cheap and it could be run on a cheap PC. Apple was never interested
in low margin products. Windows eventually caught on to capture
80-90% of the market and the rest is history.

Apple today is a successful company. Their products are innovative
and technically superior in most cases. Had some historical events
jogged just the other way though, most of us might be using
Macintoshes instead of PCs.

Beachcomber



 
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Thor
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Posts: n/a
 
      06-01-2004
> Apple today is a successful company. Their products are innovative
> and technically superior in most cases. Had some historical events
> jogged just the other way though, most of us might be using
> Macintoshes instead of PCs.


And people would be screaming "antitrust violation" from the rooftops at
Apple, because of the level of control and oversight they exercise over the
hardware, and software on their systems. Apple only gets away with it
without criticism because of their market position VS. MS/Intel. If MS
decided to stop licensing it's OS to PC manufacturers, and decided to start
making their own PCs, the anti-MS crowd would have fit, and they couldn't
beat a path to the courthhouses fast enough to sue MS. Apple's OS
development team has to contend with but a fraction of the hardware and
software configuration variables and complexity compared to the Windows
development team when they design an OS.


 
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