With ZDNet having just celebrated its 20th anniversary
in April of 2011 and publishing a number of retrospectives on how technology has evolved over the last twenty years, both Scott Raymond and I decided that it might make for an interesting thought experiment to try to project what personal computing might actually evolve into in the next decade.
The business of trying to crystal ball or read the tea leaves of the computer industry has always been difficult, particularly when trying to project it out for more than two or three years if you aren’t an insider at companies that are directly working on actual technology roadmaps for semiconductors, system components, software and operating systems.
However, even if you are an insider, the gap between researcher and actual productization can often lead to very different outcomes based on market acceptance, real manufacturing costs and any number of other mitigating factors.
Still, there have been a number of recent advances that we have observed in personal computing, the modern datacenter as well as in consumer electronics and embedded systems that allow us to make a number of educated guesses as to how these trends might actually manifest themselves as real products in the future, as much as eight or ten years from now.
Certainly, I expect that we almost certainly have missed the mark on a number of details and will fail miserably to anticipate a number of new technologies or trends, or might even be too optimistic in terms of how quickly some of these ideas may be adopted.
But whether we see this in 2019, 2021 or even 2025, I think that this reference architecture –- which we have adopted the name “Blade Runner”
in homage to Ridley Scott’s 1982 vision of 2019
is a good pinhole or an educated napkin drawing for a glimpse at the Personal Computer of the future.