Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Micro Millennium (1979)

The 1979 book The Micro Millennium heralded the arrival of the microprocessor as a revolution that would forever change our lives. From the back cover of the 1981 paperback edition:
By the year 2,000 - 17 years from now - you will live in a world transformed by one tiny, cheap computer chip - the microprocessor!

Not since Future Shock and The Greening of America has any book illuminated so radical, so sweeping, so amazing a change in the daily lives of every human being. The microprocessor - the computer chip that processes huge amounts of information in a fraction of a second!

IN YOUR OWN LIFETIME, YOU MAY SEE:
  • a pocket-size diagnostic aid for doctors, containing all relevant information
  • ultra-informed machines programmed to solve world problems
  • dolls and mechanical toys that respond to a spoken word
  • robots ready to cut the lawn

The possibilities are endless. Now renowned computer scientist Christopher Evans presents in a clear and engaging manner, the history, present influence, and future of the "microchip" - the tiny device that will forever alter our politics, education, economy, occupations - all of our daily lives!

See also:
Future Shock (1972)
Future Shock - Electrical Stimulation (1972)
Future Shock - Skin Color (1972)
Future Shock - Babytorium (1972)

6 comments:

min0taur said...

>"ultra-informed machines programmed to solve world problems..."
Uh, yeah. If they're like the ones that bid automatically on the stock market, well... Garbage In, Garbage Out. True, human problems are too damn much work; maybe if we automate 'em we won't have to think about 'em? Right. Maybe Donald Fagen's "machines to make big decisions... programmed by fellas of compassion and vision," were lampooning the common misconception that computers are labor-saving (rather than busy-making) devices. Sure, they transformed the world... into a world fit for computers to inhabit. We were expecting what?

Aaron T. said...

There's that comma in the year "2,000" again. My best guess was that the number 2000 looked so different to people used to writing 19XX that they saw it more as an arbitrary number than a year. Any other ideas?

. said...

Huh, nearly all of those came true. Doctors use PocketPCs and tabletPCs on the job, "Smart toys" from Microsoft feign intelligence and flail disturbingly, and of course I've got a pair of RoboMowers that do my front and back lawns. They would about a dozen times better than you expect them to, highly recommended.

Matthew said...

I distinctly remember that book; I read it around the time it came out, when I was 11 or 12 and very interested in computers.

He goes a lot further than those predictions on the cover, into what today we'd call Singularity speculations, about "Ultra-Intelligent Machines" whose science extends the human lifespan in an explosive manner, so that millions now living end up living to a thousand. I've sometimes wondered if this book was an inspiration for Vernor Vinge.

Geoff Coupe said...

Chris Evans was an interesting character, taken from us too soon. He was an influence for the character of Vaughan in J.G. Ballard's Crash, according to Ballard's autobiography: Miracles of Life.

Anonymous said...

How did "2,000" get to be 17 years from 1981? Now that's future shock! Rodger Cunningham