Pay please! When Life Was Still in Heaven 2012 (Part 2)

Shortly before the Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE) merged into the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the large-scale Festschrift was produced in 1962. It consisted of 1,200 pages and not only explained the state of the art in 1962, but also dealt with the technology of the future. .

Previously “Pay, please!” We reported on the concerns and concerns of scientists at the time. This section looks at predictions for 2012 and beyond that were almost correct 60 years ago. Among other things, it contains an article by computer designer Jane Amdahl, in which he discusses current trends in computer systems design.

Amdahl saw two types of computer systems coming: on the one hand, more powerful high-performance computers for special applications, and on the other hand multi-user systems that connected 50 or more workstations (teletype workstations). Amdahl wrote: “One of these systems is currently being field tested at MIT. If it can prove to be efficient or even exceed expectations, it will have a profound impact on the development of computer systems.”

In fact, testing at MIT led to the penetration of multiuser systems (by digital equipment) and the development of multiuser operating systems (Multics). Even the emergence of hacker culture can be traced back to the tests at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.




In this section, we present amazing, impressive, informative and funny characters from the fields of IT, science, arts, business, politics and of course mathematics every Tuesday.



“Proceedings of the IRE” memorial publication, which can easily keep server room doors open with over 1,200 pages. Visions of the Future is only about 100 pages long, but from today’s perspective they are almost the most interesting.

(Photo: the author)

Of course, referring to multi-user systems inevitably leads to the question of whether the Internet was included in the predictions. Indeed, General Electric Vice President George L. Haller has extensively studied JCR Licklider’s influential article “The Symbiosis of Humans and Computers,” which authors such as web historian Peter H. Salus have called the foundational text of the Internet. In 1962, Licklider was head of the Office of Information Processing Technologies at the ARPA Research Agency, which began developing ARPANET. George Haller was also optimistic about a grid system of screens and wrote in the spirit of Licklider symbiosis: “In 2012 it will be very difficult for us to distinguish ‘me’ from ‘my computer’, as the relationship between people and people will very soon be a machine.”

In his humorous contribution “Connection as an Alternative to Travel,” John R. Pierce, father of the Echo 1 and Telstar communications satellites, talks about the 1962 struggles of getting to conferences by flying and driving. “How lucky we engineers were in 2012 to be able to stay at home and attend TV conferences.” Pierce envisions teleconferencing systems made possible by fast laser links.



John Robinson Pierce (March 27, 1910 in Des Moines, Iowa; † April 2, 2002 in Sunnyvale, California), creator of the Echo 1 balloon and Telstar satellite, realized in the early 1960s that video conferencing would be a part of everyday life half a century from now. .

(Image: NASA)

Austrian Ernst Weber, then president of the Polytechnic Institute in Brooklyn, went even further. The pioneering microwave researcher was heavily influenced by the “Synnoetics” teachings of psychologist Louis Fein. Beginning with cybernetics, Fein’s Synnoetics was the study of the cooperation of all people, machines, plants, and animals toward each brain. According to Fenn’s idea, people should be connected to computers via private crystals by 1975 at the latest. So it made sense to Weber that in 2012 space travelers should conquer the universe like a cyborg in direct human-machine contact.

By the way, the IRE Festschrift also contains the opposite position, represented by Peter Jacobus van Heerden, who emigrated from Holland. The representative of Total Brain Research said: “Let’s send intelligent machines into space. This should be done in space exploration, if it turns out to be too harmful for humans to carry out missions there.”

Even if the Internet is not yet a topic of discussion, many contributions anticipate a communications network for 2012. Weather forecasts are sent from high-performance computers to home weather screens. Newspapers are no longer delivered, but are sent over the network to reading devices containing “liquid paper”. Children receive distance education and the doctor’s visit has been replaced by teleconsultation. TV screens are wall size and display 3D broadcasts with stereophonic surround sound. Music, movies or TV come over the cable network, and the content is saved using laser holography.



BeeBook E-Ink-Reader at IFA 2012: Using “e-paper” almost what was predicted in the commemorative publication 50 years ago has been achieved: a liquid that forms letters on the screen.

(Photo: CC BY-SA 3.0, Michael Movchin)

Patients are cared for at home using telemedicine equipment, while those who are otherwise healthy work primarily as knowledge workers in call centers. Minimally invasive medical interventions; There is a rich set of artificial organs that are no longer rejected by the body. Humans live at least 100 years. Microcomputers equipped with tiny atomic cells are replacing bathroom hearing aids as cochlear implants. Computers are no longer built, but they build themselves due to gradual miniaturization. Thanks to the use of nuclear energy, there is an abundance of energy.

Cars are no longer driven with internal combustion engines (because in 2012 the oil is gone), but with fuel cells. They communicate with each other via their own communication system which renders the brake lights unnecessary and is precisely guided along roads by the satellite navigation system. Children no longer go to school, and there are age-appropriate learning machines attached to it. All knowledge in the world is stored electronically and can be called up in every library in the city. There are only electronic elections and any form of election fraud has become impossible.

Amid this brave new world are predictions reminiscent of Orwell’s 1984. Dorman de Israel, chief development officer at Emerson Radio, predicted that every newborn would be implanted with a small transmitter and receiver in the nervous system of the spine. Parents who refuse this procedure undergo a re-education process because they refuse their child to become a good citizen. The state itself has stored photographs of all its citizens. Automatic facial recognition replaced fingerprints in criminal searches in 2012. The fingerprint itself is only used for purchases because it has replaced a credit card. As homes and offices are monitored both visually and acoustically, people carry noise generators with them that create an audio scene in which speech can be drowned out.

However, the bulk of the forecast deals with space travel, in keeping with the zeitgeist of the 1960s. The Moon is inhabited, with lunar stations being self-sufficient and accommodating up to 100,000 people. A colony has existed on Mars since 2007 and Venus is provided with an instrumentation station. Energy on these planets (but not on Earth) is obtained by CSPs.

On the other hand, what is completely missing from the future of electrical engineering is climate change and dealing with natural disasters. In the futuristic vision of Harold Alden Wheeler, then chief engineer at Hazeltine, dangerous storms are detected early by weather computers and destroyed with “clean nuclear bombs.” He predicted that by 2012 there would be no building without advanced air conditioning systems with controlled ion density.

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