Gordon Bell

Age: 69

Claim to fame: Father of the minicomputer: designer of the PDP line and head of development of the VAX series of minicomputers at Digital Equipment Corp.

What he's doing now: Senior researcher at the Media Presence Research Group at Microsoft Corp.

What's been the biggest technology influence on your life? You mean besides Moore's Law? It accounts for everything from the first transistorized time-sharing systems and the minicomputers I helped pioneer through PCs and, since 1995, clusters of thousands of PCs. Almost 30 years ago, I invented a corollary to Moore's Law that says a new class of computer forms every decade. It's the law of computer class formation - from minis to PCs to PDAs.

Gordon Bell of Microsoft Corp.
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Gordon Bell of Microsoft Corp.
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So what's next? A "put everything in a single chip" kind of computer, which will emerge at the several-hundred-dollar level. It will be a personal device that will remember everything in one's life - articles, books, correspondence including e-mail, music, video, voiced communication and on to Web pages. If you go out 10 years, you can basically carry your whole life with you. It will be the rebirth of the PC as a different tool.

What other technology changes will we see in our daily lives? Security is going to be the big deal. People will be authenticated any time they enter or use anything of value. This, together with [image recognition], permits complete person tracking.

Does anything worry you? What stands in the way of continued progress of Moore's Law? Lack of bandwidth may be my No. 1 concern, followed by a poor economy. The latter means fewer new systems and capital for new ventures. I'm in a very pessimistic mood about the economy.

Copyright © 2002 IDG Communications, Inc.

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