Internet 64

04/05/2010

Predictions revisited

The Internet anticipated in 1964

or “The World in a Box”

When the New Scientist’s 1964 series of predictions for “The World in 1984” was published by Penguin Books the following year, I added tables at the end. They summarized what seemed to me the main expectations of the scientists and scholars (about 100 of them) who contributed to the project. The first table concerned “Major Technological Revolutions” and I reproduce its contents below, reformatted to fit the page but otherwise unmodified in any way. The question marks denoted explicit disagreement or implicit controversy on important points.

The reader is invited to score the forecasts as hits, misses, or premature in relation to the 1984 target date. About the United Nations owning the ocean seabed, for example, or fuel-cell generators in the home, feel free to scoff as much as you like, because I have an ace in the hole.

It was no accident that item 1 in the table had the heading “Revolution in information”. Prompting me especially was what a visionary computer pioneer, Maurice Wilkes of Cambridge, wrote in “The World in 1984” (in 1964, remember) about the marriage of computing and telecommunications. Read the rest of this entry »