When the first tiny mammals arrived in the late Triassic period but before they flourished, they coexisted with dinosaurs throughout the Mesozoic Era. In much the same way, we are in the midst of our own “technological Mesozoic” and moving steadily towards the developing “post-PC” era.
The “pre-PC” age (or the “technological Paleozoic”) could be described as beginning with the first electronic devices capable of digital computation (arguably as early as World War II) and continuing unchallenged through the 1970s and the development of the microprocessor. This leaves a relatively brief and distinctly important period of transition as the “PC era”, approximately forty years where we can imagine tiny, furry mammals of technology coexisting with the massive dinosaurs of the computing age.
As with any historically important period, the witnesses to the transition are uniquely qualified to see the larger picture of the evolution. What would our tiny, furry ancestors have to say about watching the waning of the age of dinosaurs? What about those of us who remember the introduction of the personal computer and are still here to see its (potential) demise?
I am of that transitional generation and I have embraced it. I grew up with “computer class” in elementary school, learning BASIC on a Commodore PET, and watched as the fantasy of technology in books and movies became reality… and was then bypassed altogether. Remember WarGames (1983), Hackers (1995), Minority Report (2001) and 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)? All of them present some technology that we are either developing or have already surpassed.
I consider myself fortunate to be more than observer of this change, but actively participating in it. I invite any and all of the innovators in modern technology (many of whom I consider friends and colleagues) to forward their thoughts on this topic for future installments of this series.