Is That an Encyclopedia in Your Pocket??

About 26 years ago, in his book The Road Ahead, Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft, uncannily predicted the smart phone, among many other things, like Netflix and Facebook.

In that book, describing an iPhone or Android phone perfectly, he talked about the “wallet PC” saying “It will be about the same size as a wallet, which means you’ll be able to carry it in your pocket or purse. It will display messages and schedules and let you read or send electronic mail and faxes, monitor weather and stock reports, and play both simple and sophisticated games. At a meeting, you might take notes, check your appointments, browse information if you’re bored, or choose from among thousands of easy-to-call-up photos of your kids.”

He further predicted that the “wallet PC” would be secured with a biometric, possibly a fingerprint, that you could use it to get into a concert or onto an airplane, that it would replace paying with paper money, and that it would tell you via its speaker when your exit was coming up on the highway.

Wow! Talk about nailing it on the head, and that was 26 years ago!

So, thinking about that, what has this little pocket computer we all carry around in our pocket or purse replaced for us? If you stop and think about it the list is extensive. Here is just a sampling of what you have now in that 6 or so inches of your own personal space that used to literally fill a room.

  • The land-line phone or pay phone. A whole generation of kids will never know what it’s like to speak on a phone with a cord.
  • A calculator. It’s in there.
  • Camera and video cameras. The iPhone has a camera which rivals many SLRs on the market.
  • CD’s and tapes. We now live in the world of digital music. No more CDs to buy, just 1000’s of songs at our fingertips.
  • Rolodexs and address books. All that contact info is now in your pocket and synced with your computer.
  • A calendar. The smart phone has a calendar as well as appointment and date reminders. Ask SIRI to book your next appointment for you!
  • Books, magazines and newspapers. Hundreds in your pocket!
  • A compass. Just in case you get lost in the woods.
  • GPS and fold out maps. With Google or Apple Maps, most newer cars can display them right on your dash, with Car Play or Android Auto.
  • Greeting cards. Simply send electronic greeting cards that you create in an app.
  • Photo Albums. You can store thousands of photos on your phone or in “the cloud”.
  • Trips to the bank. No need to run to the bank to deposit a check or transfer funds anymore with your bank’s mobile app.
  • Dictionaries and Encyclopedias. Really not needed anymore due to the many apps and Google of course.
  • Phone Books. Just search for the number you need, and the iPhone will even dial it for you.
  • Post-its. Not required. Reminders are on your phone.
  • Printing a boarding pass while traveling. Nope! Just carry it in your phone’s “wallet”.
  • Pedometer. You can measure your steps with many apps. Go on, get out there and start stepping!
  • Order fast food. There’s an app for that. click and pay, pick-up or delivery. Boom!
  • Video Chat. When you are missing a family member or a friend, you can just have a video chat. It’s almost like being there.
  • Purchase movie tickets. Avoid long lines at the theater and buy your tickets in advance. Convenient or what?

As you can see, the list goes on, and on, and I’m sure you can think of many more. That Bill guy was pretty clever in his predictions, but who knew it would be THE device that everybody would have as their personal digital assistant, every day.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing? You decide.

I’m Captain iPad

Written by

Ron’s love for all things electronic, especially computers, and more recently, Apple products, stems back to the early 90’s when the family was gifted a Commodore 64, and the nerdiness took hold. Using the knowledge he has gleaned over the years through self-taught methods, and experience over his career in computer training, Ron has landed in a niche where he can help others now in retirement with learning all about their tech.


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