We are living in the era of advent of technology and we are familiar with internet, satellite television and mobile phones. Like everyone in the world, Indians have also played a very, very big role in inventing and innovating technology at regular intervals in India and their omnipresence is visible across the globe. Presently, we cannot think anything without the help of modern technologies.
50 years ago IBM was the front runner in computer technology. Their then chairman, Thomas Watson, opined in 1943 about the future opportunities of computers in the market: "Now, in the world market, there is a scope for selling a maximum of 5 computers, that's all". He said this because at that time the computers IBM produced were gigantic machines and the cost of each computer was unaffordable, even to millionaires. This means even Thomas Watson could not foresee the scope of computers.
In 1949 "Popular Mechanics", the US magazine, wrote about the computer in one of the editions: "We think the future computer may be not much bigger than 1.5 tons". Now even our 5 year kids play with the palmtop, just like operating a TV or a mobile, but a renowned science magazine like Popular Mechanics could not predict such an advent of technology at that time.
In 1968, when the microchip was invented, one of the senior officers at IBM commented, "How will the microchip will help us? And it is useless".
Later the advent of technology made people think about home computers and Ken Olson, the then chairman of American Digital Equipment Corporation, said in 1977: "I don't see any scope of computer in our homes".
These renowned people like Watson, Olson were very much associated with the business for decades, however their ability to visualize and imaginations were very confined to vagueness, and they could not forecast the scopes of computer in the future.
Western Union was the pioneer in communications with the telegraph. When the telephone was invented, the management of Western Union commented that "the telephone is not a good machine for communication. It has limitations and we do not see any value of using it in our business".
Later on Western Union Management was able to realize their mistake, although initially they failed to see the innumerable value of telephone. Too late, the competitors outperformed Western Union to form a monopoly in telephone communications.
Similarly, the president of the Royal Society of England said about the aero plane in a meeting that "Nobody can invent a machine that could fly", but in 8 years the Wright brothers made history by flying the first automated aeroplane. On hearing this, the Military Strategist of France, Marshal Ferdinand said, "Maybe aeroplanes are good, but they are no better than a toy".
Even Bill Gates could not foresee a computer with speed more than his 640 K, which he developed in the 1970s. He could not foresee the abundant scope of a computer in future, though he was considered to be a visionary in the field. He was later able to modify his views and he made history with his imagination and vision. This made a wonderful transformation of the world of computers and his company, Microsoft, became the pioneer today in relentlessly innovating and creating new avenues of imagination and it is no wonder his company has the edge on other corporations.
Though we may not be wizards in visualizing the future like Bill Gates, we can also imagine and innovate to see the future positively and believe in ourselves to create a better future for the coming generations. We should not limit ourselves saying that enough is enough and nothing more, but the fact is that we have to travel many roads to reach destiny.
Copyright © 2011 Satish Nair
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