This is the year technology was predicted to give us computers with processing capacity greater than that of the human brain. In 1967 we sent men to the moon using computing power equivalent of today’s pocket calculators. I swear I watched a movie in middle school that promised me flying cars and a life of leisure because of technological advances. I want a refund! At the very least, I want a plausible explanation about what went wrong.
I remember hearing in the early 90s that computing power of microprocessors was doubling every three years. Since I’m still working does that mean I was getting 50% dumber every three years? If that’s the case, I must now have the mental computing power of a pocket calculator. That would explain a lot of things; but I digress.
I fell in love with computers before personal computers, when men were men and computers were huge. I’m talking BIG iron. I distinctly remember the president of a Houston oil company giving me a tour of the top floor of his office tower. There was this air conditioned room that seemed half the size of a football field with guys running around in white, knee length, coats. White coats; what was that about? Anyway, it was cold in there, there were very long rows of humming cabinets circling the room, and the president told me with great pride they had two gigabytes of disc storage. Two gigabytes; heck I lost two gigabytes in the crack between my car seats last month. I still haven’t found it but it only cost $9.
I really got cooking with computers when I bought one with an 80486 microprocessor and a 30 megabyte disk drive. It cost me $7,000. That’s right, $7,000; no brag, just fact. I had one of the smartest PCs around, for about six months. That’s the last time I bought “state of the art”, one of few instances where I actually got smarter.
By then, I was really into writing “software” although it really didn’t feel soft to me. It didn’t feel like anything but it was really fun to make computers do stuff. I was like the puppet master and the computer was the puppet. The harder it was to figure out how to bend the computer to my will the more fun it was. “Speak!”… “yes master.” Yes, that was my password: “master.” Could be my IQ was starting to slip about that time, certainly relative to that of computers.
I learned that computer geeks were not well received at non-geek events. I could tell that, when I started talking nanoseconds and megabytes, people’s eyes started glazing over. I considered bending them to my will but they weren’t programmable.
By that time, I actually had people calling me up and asking if they could pay for my stuff. Wow, cool, getting paid to be the “master!” That went well for a while; so well I decided to do something else. Now I’m BACK, baby! The master is in and computers shall SPEAK!
I haven’t had anyone step forward to explain to me why computers are so much smarter and we still don’t have flying cars and lives of leisure. I suspect the answer is in the last line of one of those 50’s mad scientist movies. “Some things man was not meant to know.”
If you were looking for an answer from me, I’m sorry to disappoint — but I told you early on: I have the mental computing power of a pocket calculator.
Robert Guild designs specialized reports and automated analysis tools for QuickBooks clients to make decisions they can trust. He is a member of Intuit DeveloperNet and an Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor. Visit www.ReportsUWant.com to see pre-designed analysis tools ready to buy or contact him about developing applications for your specific needs at rguild@ReportsUWant.com. You can also follow him on twitter at QBPro