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Old May 11th, 2005, 02:08 PM
Keklas Rekobah Keklas Rekobah is offline
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The postings on "Art in the Far Future" brough to mind a similar subject.

What will technology be like in the Imperium around 1120 ICE?

Consider this approximated timeline:
- 50 years ago, a computor took up several rooms, was built with thermionic valves (vacuum tubes), had to be re-wired to change the program, and had the calculating power of a modern hand-held calculator.
- 40 years ago, transistors were a hot commodity, a computor took up a single cabinet, data storage used punched cards and magnetic tape, and teletypes were the standard i/o device.
- 30 years ago, integrated circuits were used to build the first home computers, data storage used 8-inch magnetic discs and cassette tapes, and television monitors were the standard output device.
- 20 years ago, LSI integration pushed computors past the 640 kilobyte memory limit, and VGA displays became the norm. A 9600-baud dialup modem was a hot commodity. The ARPA-net was in use by the military-industrial complex and several large universities.
- 10 years ago, 30 to 50% of all middle-class households had at least one computor with a 14.4 kilobaud modem. The Internet became easily accessible to anyone with a used computer. XLSI integration comes into play.
- Today, if you do not know how to set up a LAN or WAN, or even maintain the operating system on your home PC, then you are likely a third-tier candidate in the global job market. This might be offset if you have knowledge and skills related to such "Legacy" technology as vacuum tubes, discrete transistors, SSI/MSI/LSI integration, ladder logic, analog telephony, voice over radio, analog video, and other notary sojac, but you have to be exceptionally skilled in these legacy fields to be competitive.

Nowadays, most engineers build a command / control / communications (CCC) system around a single integrated circuit that can be custom configured to suit the application (PIC's). In the "Old Days" a cellular telephone would be the size of a suitcase. Use a PIC and customizable RF devices, and the largest items in a cell phone become the power source and user intefaces (keypad and display).

In the Far Future, would discrete devices still be used or even useful? Or would the 'average' tech level use customizable 'building blocks'? Would a person who knows the theory behind electronic components use them to design equipment be more or less valuable in the job market than a person who merely programs a set of 'building blocks' and connects them together? Would the 'art' of home-crafted electronics be lost? Would people still be able construct their mnemonic computers utilizing stone knives and bearskins, or would they be forced to buy one made of the latest semi-conductors and composites?

Consider what we call 'Amateur Radio' -- would people in the Far Future still be winding their own tuning coils and polishing their own oscillator crystals? Would they still take pride in making contact with someone on the other side of the planet using Morse code and less than 1 watt of power with what amounts to a rat's nest of discrete components inside a cigar box?

"Keklas! What is your payoff in playing the role of Referee?"
"To challenge my friends, to see them playing before me, and to hear the lamentations of their characters."
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