One day, a computer will fit on a desk


It is a lot easier to make an abacus from scratch than a slide rule.

(Which is what they did in the story, IIRC. Make a lot of abacusses (abacussi?) that were operated by the whole crew to compute a course correction ASAP to get them out of the tail of a comet after the mainframe went down. Which is a good argument for having redundant systems plus backup systems for anything critical when you can’t just pull over and call AA.)


I took Clarke to mean that one day every home would have a terminal that would fit on a desk, which was about right, although today’s internettery benefits hugely from Macintosh and the graphic WWW.
Compare Gordon R. Dickson’s Thankyou Beep, written in 1979 for a Hewlett-Packard promo magazine and full of wonders of 2025 such as sub-orbital rocket transports (which in reality we can’t afford) and an aseptic Jakarta inhabited by disembodied voices and an incomprehensible oriental. Dickson left us in 2001, well pre-iPhone.


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