Vacuum Tubes

As I plugged in my computer on the plane last night—I did some work, while listening to music from my hard drive. And lest you think I’m pandering (or looking for the sympathy vote or worse, “the look how hard I work spiel”), I actually spent more time watching 300 (a movie worth seeing) with my noise-buster headphones in full screen, up close and personal, than I did in PowerPoint or Word…
The point I’d like to make is that as I did all of the above, I was reminded of a quote that I’d seen just the day before:

Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 19,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and perhaps only weigh 1.5 tons.
– Popular Mechanics, March 1949.

Imagine if my laptop weighed 1.5 tons? (Although according to IT with all the stuff I download to test, it might as well weigh that much!)

Think about it. What were they (the editors of Popular Mechanics) thinking? Was it a lack of imagination or a lack of vision? Or did they just not have enough “critical mass” in High Tech to be able to envision the future as we are now experiencing it.

This leads me to my next thought: what are we missing? What is it that we are failing to envision? Where are we short-changing ourselves and our clients because we just don’t have the tools to create a view of the future that will first, bring it quicker, and second, make it operational also in a shorter time frame.

What are we leaving on the table because we still see 1.5-ton computers as a standard? I venture to say that the same thinking can (and should) be applied to relationships as well. Where does that hulking piece of metal get in the way of your friends, your family, or your clients?

So here is the thought. Every time I get caught in vacuum tubes I think of this quote:

The important thing is not to stop questioning.
– Albert Einstein

The next time you think the answer is fewer vacuum tubes or microchips think about old Albert, and never stop asking questions…

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