The progress which has brought the number of computers in use in the world from dozens to millions within a generation has not been the result of a single discovery or the work of a single inventor or company. Rather, men and women from fields as diverse as semiconductor physics and mechanical engineering have studied long hours and worked with various measures of inspiration and perspiration to make the discoveries and develop the technologies needed to advance the state of the art in computer technology.
There are several aspects of the progress in computer technology which have made it an exceptionally exciting and rewarding field for the people involved. First of all, a great many of the major steps forward, such as the invention of the transistor, have taken place within our lifetimes. Secondly, there has been an opportunity to associate with many fine colleagues whose brilliance, courage of conviction, and capacity for endless work have been a great inspiration. Finally, there has been the great promise of computers - their ability to free men's minds of repetitive and boring tasks, their ability to reduce the cost of producing goods, their ability to improve the lives of so many people in so many ways - and the fun and excitement of working with them.
In the chapters of this book, various authors relate some of their experiences in the past twenty years, draw some conclusions about how computer technology got to where it is, and project into the future from some of the trends they have seen. While it is impossible in a single book to capture all of the excitement and challenge of these years, they have done an admirable job for which they are to be commended. Hopefully, this glimpse into the past and present will encourage the students of the future to enter the computer engineering field and bring with them ideas, ambition, and courage.
Kenneth H. Olsen
Digital Equipment Corporation