Quantum Computing News

Past Technology Predictions that were hopelessly wrong

May 21, 2020

Quantum Computing in many ways is reminiscent of the rise of Classical computers from room filled with noisy hot equipment to the Quantum World which also is typically rooms full of photonic equipment and lasers or cold chillers for the ultra low temperature devices. We thought we’d look at some of the past predictions and projections about the future of technology.

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”

President of IBM, 1943. Thomas Watson

We might just be at the same stage with Quantum Computing as classical computing in those early days of the digital computer where a mainframe took up an entire room.

“640K ought to be enough for anybody.”

Bill Gates founder of Microsoft, allegedly said in 1981
The Apple Lisa. One of the first machine to sport a graphical user interface in 1983.
The Apple Lisa. One of the first machine to sport a graphical user interface in 1983.

The lesson of the story is that predictions are, well, perhaps not that accurate when we look backwards in time. But perhaps we can do something different here and see the parallels between the early days of Digital Computing and the early days of Quantum Computing and note the similarities.

Few people knew what they could do with an early digital computer which made projections about the use cases difficult. Sometimes to see the future we have to look to the past. It is an open question as to whether the development of the Quantum Computer will echo some of the developments of the emergence digital era.

However we have seen how pervasive digital computing has been in our lives – so are we now under estimating how impactful Quantum Computing might just be? I’ll leave you to think about some of the things we know today that were not even thought about 40 years ago.

Picture. A collection of old machines resurrected by enthusiasts at a retro computer club. Highlighting the old and recreations of the old.  Can the development of the digital era give us clues about the development of the quantum era?
Picture. A collection of old machines resurrected by enthusiasts at a retro computer club. Highlighting the old and recreations of the old. Can the development of the digital era give us clues about the development of the quantum era?