One day, a computer will fit on a desk


Originally published at:


Well, he was right, wasn’t he.


One day, a computer will fit on a desk

…and when you’re in your mid-40s, kiddo, it will feed stupid and ignorant people a constant stream of lies from woo-peddlers, vacuous celebrities, and wannabe dictators.



“Arthur C. Clarke forecasts the future in 1974. We’ve come a long way. Kinda.”

But - our childhood seems far from over.






64K RAM? Who needs that much!?


I know, right?

We had ta punch th’ ‘oles in th’ punchcards wi’ our teeth. In th’ dark!


But in 1974, that was almost already true. IBM and/or HP had large desktops, aimed at the scientific market. PDP-8s and 11s were close to desktop, maybe there was a desktop model. The Xerox Alto was more like a desk, but it was kind if available in early 1973. The Scelbi 8008 computer showed up sometime in 1974, and the Mark-8 8008 based mirocomputer was on the cover of Radio Electronics for Aug 1974. Even the Altair 8800 was promoted in 1974, since it was on the cover of the Jan 1975 issue of Popular Electronics, but the magazine always came out before the cover date.

So in 1974, there were examples, depending on the month, and someone paying attention would know that it wasn’t really a forecast but something about to change.

That everyone would have a computer might not be so obvious in 1974, most people wouldn’t have a use for them.


I don’t what is scarier… The computer future of Charles Forbin or the one we have now.


Babbage in, Babbage out.


The problem with those is time travellers kept coming back to find those. Kept saying John Titor sent them.


I got THREE computers sitting on my desk right now!

(Well, OK, two of 'em are phones.)


His head would explode if he could see the devices we consider Retro now.


Ah, but did he predict the effects of universal access to porn?


Interesting how he refers to “any business executive”.

What a fantastic world we’ll be living in, where a boss can close down a mill in yorkshire from his Sri Lankan beach house!



Young Jonathan is all grown up now.


I used to play in APL on that a bit as a freshman in college.