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Must Watch: Historic Video of a Scientist Who Foresaw The Invention of Desktop Computers in 1974

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By Augustine Mbam - - 5 Mins Read

What would your work look like today if you didn’t have that PC on your desk? Have you ever wondered how people in the early 90s coped with work life without the technologies we have today?

Imagine predicting a technical topic and having such a thing come to pass exactly how you said it would. That was the case of Sir Arthur Charles Clarke, a great writer, and inventor involved in different historical research and wrote many sci-fi books. During an interview, he predicted that a sophisticated personal computer would exist before 2001. He also mentioned that such computers could handle extremely complex tasks.

In a video recorded in 1974, Clarke referred to his son, whom he said might be able to use his own computer before 2001. He made this prediction in 1974, and it came to pass before 2001; by 2001, personal computers were even better than those produced in the 1980s and 1990s. 

In the video, he specifically said that those personal computers could be used for different kinds of complex calculations, bank statements, and making reservations for entertainment centers. He also mentioned that the computers he sees for the future would allow business owners to provide goods and services to their customers regardless of location. 

Reacting to the video on YouTube, one of the viewers said, "I actually let out a small chuckle when he said “theater reservations.” Now we’re at the point where we're streaming movies, tv shows, and all sorts of content. (In addition to still having movie theaters, in spite of covid). This really shows how far we've come and how much I really appreciate being able to have access to today's technology. Who knows what we'll get in another 50 years or so…."

Technologies in 1974 and How they Evolved Over the Years 

Historical research shows that the 1970s was arguably one of the revolutionary times in the history of computing; at this stage, many things happened within the industry. Around this period, many things were developed, such as the first general microprocessor, the intel 4004, invented in 1971. The C programming language, which is still important today, was developed during this decade, and even the Unix operating system got rewritten in C programming language in 1973.

The first Toshiba floppy disk drive was made and introduced in 174, and the first BIOS and 8-bit operating systems were introduced in the same year. Several computer companies were founded this year too. Foxconn was founded in 1974, the same as Tandem Computers, Digital Research Tecmar, and Apache Micro Peripherals. 

Some tech giants, such as IBM, announced their system network architecture (SNA), a set of protocols designed for less centralized networks. Scelbi also announced the introduction of their 8H computer, which had about 16KB of internal memory, and was sold for about $500 per unit. Despite these innovations, it was hard for computing to produce a version that could help people watch movies in their homes, book reservations online, or carry out complex business. Computers could only do simple tasks in 1974; in 1981, IBM produced its first desktop pc that was categorically meant for home use. 

The third generation of computers lasted from 1964 to 1971 when many functions and improvements were made in the computer industry. IBM and Apple created one of the first computers to use complex functions at home. One of the first desktop PCs can be credited to IBM, but Apple made it even better. 

Fortunately, Sir Arthur Charles Clarke lived to witness all these times as he died in 2008. This is a good analogy for living the dream, as the futurist writer lived to see what he predicted to come to pass. 

More About Sir Arthur Charles Clarke

Sir Arthur C. Clarke
Majority World CIC / Alamy

Sir Arthur Charles Clarke was born in 1917 and was an inventor, an English science-fiction writer, and a futurist who predicted many things that came to pass. He was the one that co-wrote the screenplay for one of the most popular sci-fi films in history named 2001: A Space Odyssey in 1968.

Arthur Clarke has been a proponent of space for a long time, even when he was still a teenager. He joined the British Interplanetary Society in 1934 and proposed a satellite communication system. 

In his personal life, Clarke married only once, ending in divorce after six months of the relationship. He was also controversial with his sexuality, as many predicted he was gay due to his preference for men. In fact, upon his death in 2008, he was buried with his partner, Leslie Ekanayaeje, who he described as his "perfect friend."

Watch the video here