My Turn

The Computer of the Future

Andrew W. Hill - 2001.11.21

My Turn is Low End Mac's column for reader-submitted articles. It's your turn to share your thoughts on all things Mac (or iPhone, iPod, etc.) and write for the Mac web. Email your submission to Dan Knight .

This isn't a prediction. This is another one of those articles where I talk about my perfect future. As its written now, I have no hope of being accurate, nor do I care to.

My computer of the future will not be much faster than today's computers. After all, we're starting to get to the point where a home user can do pretty much everything they want to do with today's speeds. What it will have is additional equipment and a better design. It won't be about how fast it is, but what you can do with it.

The entire computer will be roughly the same size as an LCD monitor. The main feature will be the screen. You will buy them in sizes from 9" to 36". There will be no cooling fans at all.

The computer will be split into two completely separate halves: the processor module and the display module. They will be connected at the bottom of the display by a 360° hinge. They will be connected such that only the careful observer would note that they were completely separate parts. In standard use the processor module will be behind the display module. However, the smaller (sub-20") models will be able to have the back swing forward and under the display module to function as a laptop or portable.

The hard disk will have an enormous capacity and will be almost unbreakable, possibly using solid state technology - enough for several years worth of constant MP3s or movies. It will also have several gigabytes of unupgradable RAM.

They will have as standard two optical drives. Cheaper models might have one CD-RW and one CD-ROM/DVD-ROM, whereas the higher models may have two DVD-R SuperDrives. This way, when one CD or DVD is done, the other can automatically start up without any delay. The computer will also have a TV tuner in case the owner feels like watching a new set of advertisements.

The keyboard and mouse would be connected to the computer by radio waves. Trackballs and keyboards with integrated mice will become popular for owners of 36" computers who want to work on a couch.

There will be only one means of expanding the computer, and that will be by a high speed, daisy-chainable FireWire-type slot. Some computers will have more than others. External devices will go from video cameras to CD stackers to scanners to third party disks. Almost any home appliance can be connected to this, even the heaters, dishwashers, and pool filter pumps. The only other external ports will be a high-speed network port and a dialup port.

Such a computer would use very little energy and would replace some entertainment appliances, such as televisions and stereo systems. They will cost around $400 and will truly be the digital hubs of a household.

As for the operating system? That's anyone's guess.

Andrew W. Hill (a.k.a. Aqua) has been using Macintosh computers since 1987 and maintains that the Mac SE is the perfect Macintosh, superior to all - including the Color Classic. He is on the verge of being evicted from the family home due to its infestation of Macs (last count: about 50). Andrew is attempting to pay his way through college at UC Santa Cruz with freelance web design and Mac tech support.

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