The Future of Computing: What Comes Next

Our story starts in World War II with Alan Turing and the bombes.  The bombes were the first working computers, and they were created to take advantage of Polish advances in breaking the Nazi Enigma enciphering machine.   This was not "general purpose" computing -- the programmer-universe was 1 person and even though they were terrific at cracking the Enigma code, they were basically useless for anything else.

Even so John Von Neumann turned the bombe design into a general computing architecture that has defined everything slnce, including the machine I'm typing this post on.

Fast-forward 20 years, and you enter an era when "mainframes" rule the computing world.   The IBM System 360 ruled computing from my childhood until I started grad school -- and System 360 Assembler was one of my first programming languages.

Now fast-forward again, but only about 10 years this time.    Minicomputers now rule -- much like a mainframe, but a bit smaller and much cheaper. The programmer-universe was now really expanding -- at MIT our Vax 11-780 had CRT displays, so no more punch cards!

The next fast-forward is only 5 years, and personal computers and PC software are starting to dominate computing.   Lotus 1-2-3 represented the future of software then -- it had a visual programming language (the spreadsheet metaphor) and macros for more conventional text-based programming.  The future was here!

Or was it?   Through the years computers had dropped in cost by a factor of 10,000, dropped in size by a factor of 10,000, and with Moore's Law they'd risen in processing power by a factor of a million. But how much had software and information processing really changed?

Google and the rise of Internet computing have set the stage of the next advances in information processing. The "PC age" spanned 30 years, and while the archtypal machine continued to advance at Moore's Law pace, our models for information processing really didn't change that much.

But they are changing now. The PC era is being supplanted by 3 regimes of computing that will advance our visions of information processing in the years ahead. I'll write more about them in my next post, when we'll talk about the new ages of computing - characterized by:

the Pad,
the Cloud, and
the Software that links it all


Welcome to Pikasoft!

Welcome to the Pikasoft web log -- a friendly meeting place for commentary on business, processes, and software. I'm John Repko, and I'm one of the primary administrators of the blog. My main area of interest is software, and I'll be posting frequent commentary on this site.

In the technology world (the TED world really, as computers and communications intertwine) there are four main technology waves, all about to converge.

Data Everywhere

  • Data everywhere...
    • The first is an idea I call "data everywhere." Google started it -- showing and capturing the value to be had from making all the worlds information available. Google's advances are the start ... you can find all that data. But what can you do with it?


  • Analytics and Visualization...
    • This takes on a lot of different forms: Hadoop to give mapreduce to the masses, NoSQL data stores to enable "column-based searching", and rich presentation tools like Tableau to draw the insight out of the data. So ... is this mainframe-ware, or what?

Data in your hands

  • In your hands...
    • The iPhone started it -- the key breakthrough wasn't any specific thing in its technology, but that it broke through the barrier separating "computing" and "consumer electronics." Here was a smart device that everybody had to have! It is only incidentally a "Phone," and the iPad should take things to a whole new level. Still, the phone-ness is critical as an idea, so you can link...

  • To your friends, acquaintances, family and co-workers!
    • Social linkages and the social graph matter, but locality matters even more. "Being" is good -- but "Being With" is much better. Facebook and Twitter were an interesting start, but Foursquare, Yelp, Gowalla and other similar services will really push the edge where computers and communication meet.

It's going to be a whole different world, and Pikasoft hopes to participate in it and talk all about it.

Drop on by often for the latest in this evolution of insanely great advances in technology.

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