Memories of Future and Space

Charles@StanfordCharles received his Stanford Engineering Hero award last week from the hands of Persis S. Drell, Dean of the School of Engineering at Stanford University. He gave a talk “Memories of Future and Space” where he shared some stories from the early days of computing and finished with some wonderful photos from his time spent on the International Space Station. There are some really great stories about his first “personal” computer, Alan Kay’s proposed 9”x12” Dynabook from 1972, and the budget Wernher von Braun suggested for a Mars mission.

I had two big takeaways from the video.

First, Charles made the point that despite several orders of magnitude hardware advances in the last 40 years, software development is lagging behind. The tools for building code have improved, we have better languages, programmers have greater access to frameworks and communities, but even with all this, software development has improved only incrementally at best.

Second, it seems we rarely take the time to consider how quickly computer technology is changing, and how those advances are affecting our lives. It’s a good thing to hit the pause button every now and then and think about where we were, where we are, and where we are going.

Can’t wait to see what the next 40 years brings!