I was preparing breakfast when my daughter complaint “Mommy Google is not listening to me. HE is annoying me…”
My elder daughter was already on the breakfast table. Confused, I asked “Who?” as I entered her room.
“Google” she yelled. “I am asking HIM to stop, but HE is not listening”. She pointed to Google Home, furious for being forced to wake up early on a Sunday morning. And then I witnessed Apple hiding conveniently in a corner, letting Google take the blame for mischief he hadn’t even played.
Over the winter break, my daughter had gotten used to going back to sleep with “OK Google Stop” when the alarm beeped. To get her back in the groove, I left my IPAD in her room with the alarm on. Apple kept whistling while Google was getting the beating. I met my first computer in 1990. In merely 26 years it has grown to become a “HE”, a family member and I had just witnessed the most fascinating sibling fight between Humans and Devices!
… and just like that Google became my third child
The valley keeps buzzing with innovation all the time courtesy this computer. In honor of our new discovered family member, I wanted to imagine reliving the product discussions that might have occurred at various stages of digital evolution.
Here’s a take at our journey of tech innovations as a compilation of product positioning statements.
First, we made the computer Useful and Usable. – Faster, Smaller and Ability to handle complexity.
- During WW2, University of Pennsylvania in partnership with the U.S government created ENIAC (‘first generation computer) to perform complex calculations andmake weather predictions for the US Army, better than existing calculators by increasing the speed using one memory. The name Computer was derived from the word “compute” meaning to calculate.
- In 1947 inventors William Shockleyand Walter Brattain in the Bell Laboratories started second generation, that offered smaller, faster, more reliable and more energy efficient computers for commercial use for large businesses and in universities; better than their predecessors by using transistors, stored memory, and magnetic-core memory. Transistors generated high heat and damaged the sensitive computer parts though.
- In 1958 inventors Jack Kilby started third generation, that offered drastically smaller computer for Industries which did not over heat by inventing Integrated Chips (IC) which enabled all electronic components to be on a single semiconductor chip made of silicon. In parallel new operating systems were developed enabling multiple applications to run simultaneously.
- In 1981 IBM introduced the Fourth generation, that offered drastically faster, smaller & portable computer for home use by integrating thousands of Integrated Chips (IC) into one chip by using VLSI and ULSI technology. Apple followed suit by creating the ‘Macintosh’.
and, coached it to communicate effectively, locally and globally!
- Department of Defense (DoD) worked on numerous data transmission technologies stating in 1960s and invented a packet switching networking protocol, TCP/IP in 1974 that provided end-to-end data communication for the US Defense by defining how data should be packetized, addressed, transmitted,routed and received.
- Defense was creating ARPANET, the first network of computers used to transmit data. LAN (local area network) and WAN (wide area network) made the small computers more powerful by linking them together using TCP/IP, routers, and switches. Internet (a WAN) was created as the globally interconnected set of computers through which everyone can access data and programs from any site.
- Firewall was then invented to provide network security, to business and homes connected to the internet, by monitoring and controlling the incoming and outgoing network traffic based on predetermined security rules.
- Wi-Fi Alliance created Wi-Fi technology to connect devices to the Internet via a WLAN network and awireless access point without using the wired connections like Ethernet. Wifi access point (or hotspot) has a range of about 60 feet indoors, and a higher range outdoors by using multiple overlapping access points. Wireless connections are more vulnerable to attack than wired.
- Routers (mini computers with I/O, CPU and memory) were invented to expand the network by joining multiple networks via either wired or wireless connections using local routing tables that store local information used to direct the packet to the next network on its journey. E.g. Linksys, Netgear or Mobile Hotspots. Routers work at the Network Layer of the OSI model. Variations – Router is used to connect multiple computers to the same network (e.g. multiple devices connected via a router to create a LAN); while modems connect this network to the internet. All devices within the network get a distinct local IP, they all share the same external IP i.e. the IP assigned to the Modem by the ISP. Routers are typically dedicated hardware devices. Software-based routers also exist example: Mobile Hot spots.
- Switches were created to channel incoming data from any of the multiple input ports in a network to the output port that could move the data closer to its intended destination. On an Ethernetlocal area network (LAN), a switch determines output port address in each incoming message frame from the physical device (Media Access Control or MAC address). For a WAN (e.g. Internet output port (for the next part of its trip to the intended destination) is determined from the IP address in each packet.
Of course, Continuous Refinements kept happening in parallel
- A Bluetooth device (e.g. a headset, watch or speakers etc.) was invented to connect phones, computers and devices over a short-range ad hoc network using radio waves instead of TCP/IP based wired or wireless connections. A Bluetooth device contains a tiny computer chip with a Bluetooth radio and software. Either two Bluetooth devices can pair to communicate directly; or a piconet i.e. a Bluetooth network can be setup to connect multiple devices, in which case one device acts as the master and others as slaves. Piconets are established dynamically as Bluetooth devices enter and leave radio proximity.
- Mobile – we know the story. Smaller, Faster, Handle more complexity but anytime, all the time!
Recently, we empowered digital devices to intermingle with the Physical world
Peter T. Lewis in September 1985, shared his vision about Internet of Things (IOT) – where everyday things have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data. This is now a reality with gadgets like Fitbit, electric Cars, electric grids, Nests being used every day.
- Smart Devices or Connected Devices are embedded with network connectivity and electronics, software, sensors, actuators etc; and to integrate the physical world with the digital world in an intuitive manner; to leverage digital power to improve physical world, with data collected and exchanged by the devices.
And so, today we are, living with these Smart Devices
as they help us manage our health, our music, our households, our cars, our conversations, our lives!
So what’s next ?
… to be continued