posted on Jun, 29 2007 @ 11:42 AM
Originally posted by butters30
[It's almost like one day we were all using vacuum tubes and punch cards and the next day it was the micro processor. I am not saying we havent
Not really. Punch cards were used first to tabulate the 1890 census by the Hollerith Company. They were the size they were because they based them on
the size of the dollar bill at the time and used dollar bill boxes to hold the cards. This was an electro-mechanical solution. Next was the relay in
the 1940s. Vacuum tubes were already around by the time the inventors of Eniac, etc. decided to use them as on/off switches for computers instead of
the slower relay switches. Vacuum tibes were used from the early forties clear through the fifties. There was a long interval where transistors were
used as the replacement for vacuum tubes which resulted in modern conveniences like portable transistor radios. This took place all through the 60’s
and early 70’s. The first 'micro chips' were by today's standard incredibly clunky and inefficient.
"Moore's Law" developed by Gordon Moore of Intel says that the capacity on a given sized chip doubles every two years (sometimes every 18 months).
People tend to say that we're about to hit the wall for chip fabrication because they are getting as small as atoms, but this isn't really true. If
you plot the capacity of processors from 1900 and go though the various processes that have been used, Moore's law has held for over 100 years. The
thing is, it’s an exponential curve, not a straight curve. Any way you slice it, whether it’s cost or bits shipped, it’s an exponential curve.
The funny thing about an exponential curve is that at a certain point, it takes off. Think of the chess board and the story of the grains of rice.
Put one grain of rice on the first square, two on the second, four on the third, eight on the fourth. After row 1 you only have 128 grains on square
8, and it’s still pretty small by the time you fill half the board. But by the time you’ve reached 2 to the 64th power you’ve got all the rice
on the world. That’s the nature of exponential growth and it’s what we have seen in the growth of computing. Those interested in this subject
might like books written by Ray Kurzweil
such as "The
Singularity is Near"
which postulates that our scientific progress in the fields of genetics, computers, robotics, and medicine is about to
take off so fast that it creates a “singularity,” which for his purposes he defines as a state where we literally cannot predict the future
because it is changing so fast. He calls this the "Law of Accelerating Returns."
But the point is: No aliens required.