Tuesday, January 31, 2012

HP Calculators in 2025, As Predicted In 1978

In 1978, the HP Calculator Journal published a cute short story by science fiction writer Gordon Dickson entitled, "Thank You, Beep!"

It described a day in the life of a business traveler in the year 2025, armed with his trusty "HP XX-2050" handheld computer (which he nicknames "Beep"), capable of storing personal data, functioning as an "auto secretary" to make appointments, and interfacing with other machines through various "computer nets".

In retrospect, the predicted 1 GB of memory seems small by modern standards but was of course enormous by the standards of 1978.

The related article, "Smartphone futures -- Thank You, Beep...!" does a nice job comparing some of Dickson's other fictional predictions with current day reality.

The fictional HP XX-2050 is a bit chunkier than current smartphones:

But overall, Dickson did a pretty good job for someone writing in 1978.

I remember reading "Thank You, Beep!" when it was originally published, thinking how cool it would be to see something like that in real-life. Today's smartphones aren't quite there yet, but they're astonishingly close. And if current progress continues, they may well exceed Dickson's predictions by the time 2025 rolls around.