High-tech revolution makes way for high-tech evolution—Part I

CIOL Bureau
New Update

Oh sure, new - evolutionary - advances will continue to be made in every

field. Disk drives will store more data per square inch, silicon chips will pack

ever more transistors and microprocessors will get faster and faster. And new

Silicon Valley companies will rise to become multi-billion dollar enterprises.


But like the landing on the Moon, which signified the highest of all human

achievements before and since, the high-tech revolution has reach its summit

point from which, further advancement will only be gradual at best. Much like

the Space Shuttle is a much better vehicle than the Lunar Module, better

cellular phones will come along, better video games, better personal computers,

PDAs, cameras, MP3 players and anything else digital.

But in terms of bringing new life- and business-changing advances into our

lives, there is currently nothing on the Silicon Valley technology radar that

could have as vast an impact as personal computers, cellular phone, the

Internet, digital cameras, and all the other electronic tools and gadgets

currently available for consumers and business users.


Digital convenience all around

As consumers, virtually every imaginable product envisioned in the 1970s and
1980s when the digital revolution started to take shape, is now available at

very reasonable prices.

Let's take a brief inventory of some of this digital convenience:

Communications: Cellular telephones can now double as personal digital
assistants and give us access to our email and voicemail alike from just about

anywhere. And the first cell phones with video capability have already been

demonstrated. Soon they will probably take pictures as well - still and video --

which can be sent instantly to anyone, anywhere. But that kind of integration is

simply a higher level of application, not a new revolution.

Life recording: Digital still cameras such as the new Sony Mavica can

store up to 1,000 high-resolution images on 3.5-inch disks. A single disk,

costing less than 50 cents, holds the capacity of 40+ regular rolls of Kodak

film. There are no development costs and any consumer can make prints that rival

print shop quality with a $200 to $300 color printer. Around the corner are

digital cameras that hook up to your cell phone and let you broadcast an event,

like a wedding ceremony, over the Internet to a distant or bed-ridden family



Google knows more than God! The Internet, after shedding the doomed

get-rich-quick dot-com schemers, and with the help of companies like Google, has

evolved into an all-knowing worldwide information center. Google can locate any

bit of data ever published online or any person ever written about or listed in

a flash of a second. It recently took all but 10 seconds to locate an elementary

schoolmate I lost contact with 35 years ago because he was listed in the

newsletter of his church half way around the world.

Someone with a vacation home can now list the house on any of a dozen online

vacation rental Web sites. The ads, which cost less than $100 per year, can

generate from $2,000 to $8,000 in monthly rental income. The Internet has given

ordinary people an avenue of marketing to the entire world at little or no cost.

You can't envision much more personal power than that.


Home entertainment: Large 60x30-inch panoramic HDTVs provide a picture

quality from which there is virtually no imaginable improvement. Coupled with an

advanced audio system you can enjoy a DVD movie more so than in a real theater.

DVD recorders will further enhance consumers' ability to enjoy their HDTV

systems by being able to record digital programs and playing them back when


On the same consumer electronic level, you can now put 200 full-length music

CDs onto a Sony Discman-size player that holds 10 or more gigabytes of data.

Most people don't have 200 music CDs. You can also record hundreds of hours

worth of you favorite tunes in MP3 format, copy the files to a CD-ROM and play

them back in hi-fi audio during a long flight or while jogging.


Digital convenience: Digital convenience is popping up everywhere around

us. Supermarkets can automatically scan the products you've put in the shopping

cart and charge your ATM checking account without going through a cash register.

I can buy movie and concert tickets at my bank ATM.

Person productivity: Fully-loaded personal computers operating at 2

billion calculations per second can now be purchased for under $1,000. That will

seem slow two or three years from now. But there is no software available today

that would require a whole lot more processing power to be achieve any

significant gains in personal productivity. With a DSL or cable modem access to

the Internet, people can work from home virtually as easily and productively as

from their office, which usually feature much slower desktop computers than seen

in most homes.

To be continued