Breaking Moore’s Law

642px-Moores_law_(1970-2011)No law is more powerful or important in Silicon Valley than Moore’s Law — the simple idea that transistor density is continually increasing which means computing power goes up just as costs and energy consumption go down. It’s a clever idea we rightly attribute to Gordon Moore. The power lies in the Law’s predictability. There’s no other trillion dollar business where you can look down the road and have a pretty clear idea what you’ll get. Moore’s Law lets us take chances on the future and generally get away with them. But what happens when you break Moore’s Law? That’s what I have been thinking about lately. That’s when destinies change.

There may have been many […]

Doug Engelbart, visionary

EngelbartGeniuses can be found on every street corner in Silicon Valley, but visionaries are much less common. Geniuses are good at completing tasks while visionaries are the first to recognize tasks that need completion. And of all the visionaries none were greater or had a longer range view than Doug Engelbart, who died last night at age 88.
To most people who recognize his name Doug Engelbart was the inventor of the computer mouse but he was much, much more than that. In addition to the mouse and the accompanying chord keyboard, Doug invented computer time sharing, network computing, graphical computing, the graphical user interface and (with apologies to Ted Nelson) hypertext links. And he invented all […]

Accidental Empires, Chapter 17 — Do the Wave

surf_board-legAnd so our two month retrospective comes to an end with this 17th and final chapter, circa 1996. I hope you have enjoyed it. Tomorrow I’ll be back to talk about the eBook version of this work as well as what I’ve been up to for the last eight weeks. It’s more than I ever expected… and less.




We’re floating now on surfboards 300 yards north of the big public pier in Santa Cruz, California. As our feet slowly become numb in the cold Pacific water, it’s good to ponder the fact that this section of coastline, only fifteen miles […]

Accidental Empires, Chapter 16 — But Wait, There’s More!

MoreFive years after Accidental Empires was published in hardcover and four years after the paperback, we got a chance to do a somewhat revised paperback edition to go with Triumph of the Nerds, my Channel 4/PBS miniseries based on the book. Revision may be too strong a word, because all I was allowed to do was add two extra chapters at the end. This gave me a chance to catch up with some of the major characters, correct a few mistakes, explain what had happened in the intervening half-decade and — oh by the way — finally say something about the Internet.



January […]

Accidental Empires, Chapter 15 — Future Computing

minority-reportThere is so much wrong and yet a lot that’s right in this chapter, which was the last one in the original hardcover edition. I don’t know whether to be embarrassed by it or proud. How does computing today compare with my predictions from 1992? 




Remember Pogo? Pogo was Doonesbury in a swamp, the first political cartoon good enough to make it off the editorial page and into the high-rent district next to the horoscope. Pogo was a ‘possum who looked as if he was dressed for a Harvard class reunion and who acted as the moral conscience for the first […]