RE: Tech Writing & The Economy

Subject: RE: Tech Writing & The Economy
From: SteveFJong -at- aol -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 21 Feb 2002 11:32:00 EST

Nora's gloomy future prediction prompts me to list a few technology-based
predictions of the past, made in all earnestness, that were invalidated by
technological progress. (I'm playing fast and loose with the timeframes, but
the predictions are all true.)

At the close of the 19th century, it was predicted that by the close of the
20th century, the streets of our cities would be ten feet deep--up to the
second stories!--in horse manure from all the wagon traffic. (Invalidated by
the internal-combustion engine.)

At the close of the 19th century, it was predicted that by 1950 everyone in
America would either be on the phone or operating a switchboard. (Invalidated
by automated switching systems.)

In the 1940s, it was predicted that the total worldwide market for computers
was ten units. Ken Olsen of Digital Equipment (who helped to invalidate the
first prediction) said there was no market for home computers. Bill gates
(who helped to invalidate the second) said no one would ever need more than
384KB of RAM. Steve Jong said there was no reason to rip CDs onto disk when
CDs themselves were perfectly adequate 8^)

In the 1950s it was predicted that America's hospitals would be filled with
polio patients in iron lungs. (Invalidated by Jonas Salk.)

The one constant of technological change is that we don't know where it will
come from, but it always has appeared when needed. That may be the invisible
hand at work, or perhaps the Invisible Hand. I am optimistic that (a) the
hand will come again, and (b) I'll make a good living documenting it 8^)

-- Steve

Steven Jong--"Typo? What tpyo?"
mailto:SteveFJong -at- AOL -dot- com -dot- nospam
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