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Some Short-Sighted Predictions

General David Sarnoff, then Chair of RCA, made interestiong claims in the Saturday Review, published July 23, 1966.For example, consider these paragraphs from his article entitled "No Life Untouched."

In just ten years, the typical electronic data processor has become ten times smaller, 100 times faster, and 1,000 times less expensive to operate. These trends will continue, and our national computing power, which is doubling every year, will soon be sufficient to make the computer a genuinely universal tool.

In 1956, there were fewer than 1,000 computers in the United States. Today there are 30,000, or more than $11 billion worth: and by 1976 the machine population may reach 100,000...

A decade ago, our machines were capable of 12 billion computations per hour; today, they can do more than 400 trillion--or about two billion computations per hour for every man, woman, and child...."

Task 1: Try to replicate Sarnoff's mathematical reasoning and verify his extrapolations.

Task 2: Now, research the history of microcomputers. For example, one year prior to Sarnoff's date of 1976, Ed Roberts, the "father of the microcomputer," designed the first microcomputer, the Altair 8800. Then, explain why Sarnoff was extremely short-sighted, given the computer presence, power, and costs today?

Source: Don Fabin's The Dynamics of Change, 1967, p. 21