Stories by Paul Strassman

An era of computer history draws to a close

Windows, Unix, Linux, Sparc, Pentium and Merced — there’s nothing technologists love more than a debate about operating systems and microprocessors. But soon, those debates will be irrelevant.
We have reached the end of computer history as we know it. Fifty years of CPU- and operating-system-centric computing is ending. Large organisations are on the threshold of an era that will be characterised by widespread diffusion of the computing function.
During the next five years the economics of computing will cause work to be dispersed to autonomous systems that will combine as needed for cooperation, without having to depend on specific operating systems and microprocessors to function at all.
According to research firm International Data (IDC), this year’s worldwide spending on IT will be $US1.6 trillion. At a conservative future annual growth rate of 9%, total IT spending for the next decade will be $US30 trillion. That’s not affordable. The demise of computing as we know it will be forced by the following: