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From Walk-in to Wearable Computer

Computer sales across the world have reached the one billion mark. This year the computer celebrated its 50 year existence - what will the next century bring?


The computer of the future?

One billion computers have been sold across the world. And the number is expected to hurdle the two billion mark by 2008, according to hi-tech consultancy Dataquest.

The greatest growth is expected in China, Latin America, eastern Europe and India. But further growth is also expected in Europe, despite a recent slowdown after the last decades’ internet boom.

Computervirus Alert

In 2000, 2 million computers were sold in Germany alone. Turnover increased from 1999 by 24.4 per cent to 22.5 billion euros.

But computers have gone a long way since the first commercially successful PC, the Altair was launched, back in 1975.

Walk in computer

In those days, computers were large and cumbersome. One of the first, the Univac was so huge you could walk into it. As the Univac’s 5,200 vacuum tubes, driven by a 125 kilowatt power supply (for the memory of 1,000 words!) needed cooling, people would put their desks inside the computer’s walls for the luxury of an air-conditioned office.

Today, the lighter and handier modern day computers are, the better. Indeed, the numbers of laptops, notebooks and powerbooks has surged in recent years, with percentage of German computer households rising from 0.6 in 1999 to 5.5 per cent only one year later.

Computer future

But the way computers are used has changed too. The days when the computer was something for specialists and computer whizz-kids, are over. The modern computer is part of everyday lives, what with internet, email and play games.

So what does the computer for the future hold in store?

"Today, humans have to work with computers on the computers’ terms", Intel’s Chief Technology Officer, Pat Gelsinger told the BBC.

"We want to make computers work with humans on their terms. That vision includes developing PCs that can recognize speech, gestures and video".