"With unit cost falling as the number of components per circuit rises, by 1975 economics may dictate squeezing as many as 65,000 components on a single silicon chip."
Moore, Gordon E., "Cramming More Components onto Integrated Circuits", Electronics, Vol 38, Number 8, April 19, 1965
This article by Dr Moore, co-founder of Fairchild Semiconductors and Intel, has become the basis of what has been dubbed Moore's Law. This law says that the number of components one can print on a chip doubles every two year. So far the law has never been revoked. Just think of the amazing number of components you carry through your laptop, cellphone, PDA, wristwatch etc... Moore's law seems to be to electronics what the compound interest is to finance.
Its 40th birthday was celebrated a few days ago. Dr Moore was interviewed in a recent podcast by Larry Magid (through ITConversations). It's interesting to note that when the article was published it triggered no reaction at all. These days, quite the opposite! It has become an industry benchmark.
There is another birthday that is forthcoming and that we should not forget about, namely that of the article entiteld "As We May Think" by Vannevar Bush (published in the Atlantic Monthly in July 1945). Dr Vannevar Bush coined a term, "memex", for what he anticipated would be a reality in the future:
"Consider a future device for individual use, which is a sort of mechanized private file and library. It needs a name, and to coin one at random, "memex'' will do. A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory."
Sounds familiar? Well, read what's next:
"It consists of a desk, and while it can presumably be operated from a distance, it is primarily the piece of furniture at which he works. On the top are slanting translucent screens, on which material can be projected for convenient reading. There is a keyboard, and sets of buttons and levers. Otherwise it looks like an ordinary desk.
In one end is the stored material. The matter of bulk is well taken care of by improved microfilm. Only a small part of the interior of the memex is devoted to storage, the rest to mechanism. Yet if the user inserted 5000 pages of material a day it would take him hundreds of years to fill the repository, so he can be profligate and enter material freely.
Most of the memex contents are purchased on microfilm ready for insertion. Books of all sorts, pictures, current periodicals, newspapers, are thus obtained and dropped into place. Business correspondence takes the same path. And there is provision for direct entry. On the top of the memex is a transparent platen. On this are placed longhand notes, photographs, memoranda, all sort of things. When one is in place, the depression of a lever causes it to be photographed onto the next blank space in a section of the memex film, dry photography being employed."
Now to make the whole vision complete here is an example of how to use "memex":
"The owner of the memex, let us say, is interested in the origin and properties of the bow and arrow. Specifically he is studying why the short Turkish bow was apparently superior to the English long bow in the skirmishes of the Crusades. He has dozens of possibly pertinent books and articles in his memex. First he runs through an encyclopedia, finds and interesting but sketchy article, leaves it projected, Next, in a history, he finds another pertinent item, and ties the two together. Thus he goes, building a trail of many items. Occasionally he inserts a comment of his own, either linking it into the main trail or joining it by a side trail to a particular item. When it becomes evident that the elastic properties of available materials had a great deal to do with the bow, he branches off on a side trail which takes him through textbooks on elasticity and tables of physical constants. He inserts a page of longhand analysis of his own. Thus he builds a trail of his interest through the maze of materials available to him."
No need to say these visionary sentences are for us at Cyberlibris "music to our ears".
What we work hard for, what we dream of is somehow a blend of the visions of the two doctors. What we do is possible because Moore's law work and what we do is precisely what Dr Bush was hoping for!
PS: To know more about Vannevar Bush, follow this link.