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Winter-Spring 2001
Vol. 63, No. 2-3

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Computers: The Unexpectable Future

Rashid '77 (PhD)

When it comes to computers, "The future is not what it used to be."

That ironic "prediction" sums up an industry in which developments leapfrog one another exponentially and, well, "unpredictably," according to Richard Rashid '77 (PhD), senior vice president for advanced technology and research at Microsoft Corporation, who was helping to celebrate the Department of Computer Science's 25th anniversary.

In an hour-long presentation, Rashid and Henry Fuchs, professor of computer science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, recounted some of the unexpected ways computers have developed during the past 35 years and what the future may-or may not-hold.

Rashid said broad outlines are clear:

  • Graphics will get better, giving computer games of the next decade the look and feel of reality.
  • Storage devices will improve in the next few years to the point where a single computer drive will soon have the capacity to store recordings of every conversation you have ever had.
  • Networks will continue to explode, improving on the current pace of doubling their speed every six months.


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