(How to Avoid Being Roadkill on
the Information Superhighway)

1996 All Rights Reserved
Richard R. Orsinger

III. THE COMMUNICATION REVOLUTION We are in the midst of a "communication revolution." It appears that this communication revolution will take us into a new world, like the industrial revolution moved us from an agrarian world to a mechanized world. Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft Corp. (and one of the richest persons in the world), made the following comments about the communication revolution, at a speech on March 19, 1996:

"[T]he PC has come a long way in the last 20 years. It was just over 20 years ago when I dropped out of school--and I'm not recommending that to anyone. It was Harvard University, one of the better places to drop out of. And it was at that time that the first low-cost computers were becoming available. It was actually kind of a kit for $360, and you had to put it together. And even once you did that, it really didn't do much for you, but just the challenge of making it work and sort of trying to figure out what it could and couldn't do made it very popular.

"Starting in 1981 with IBM's entry and being furthered by Apple products like the Macintosh, which brought a graphical appearance to the machine, and many, many improvements in the speed and storage capacity of the PC, has brought us to where we are today. Now, as we look into the future, the PC will continue to get better.

"What is it that people are doing with the PC? Well, they're sitting down and expressing their ideas. They're using the word processor. They're using spreadsheets to study business plans or mathematical analysis. They're even using the computer now for information. When I was growing up, I loved reading The World Book Encyclopedia. Now, it was a little hard to go from topic to topic. It was always a little bit out of date. And so I'm very envious of young people today who, instead of using the print encyclopedia, have another choice, which is to use a CD, a compact disk, that has a lot more information on it, including music and animation. It has quizzes. So if you think you're smart about a topic, you can test out and see if you really are. And as you read about a subject, linking to related articles, simply clicking, and it takes you to another article. And, in fact, in the latest encyclopedia not only do you have the information on the disk, but you can reach out to the Internet and see what everybody's saying about a topic. So let's say it's about medicine. Then you'll see the most up-to-date research and be connected up to other people who are working in that area.

"[T]he PC, as it continues to improve, will start to take on a completely new role, and we're really at the start of a new era, an era where we can think of the PC not just as a stand-alone computer, but as a link in an entire communications network. People say this is the Information Age. Well, why do they say that? I believe it's because, as this PC gets easier to use, as it gets cheaper, more and more connected together with great information that's fun to look at, it will become a -- it will foster a communications revolution that will be as important and as impactful as the communications revolutions of the past. That is, I'm comparing the PC to the invention of the printing press, to the arrival of the telephone or the radio or even television.

"[T]he personal computer is different in some ways than any of these. Because it's interactive, it is tailored to your individual interests. The topics that you want to learn about are the ones that you can reach out and find out about. Sitting and composing electronic mail and finding things -- it's a lot more active than sitting in front of the TV set. So I think, if we handle it right, the PC creates an incredible opportunity, an opportunity to take the curiosity and capabilities of the population as a whole that are so fantastic and make sure that those are not wasted." See

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Created August 27, 1996
Last updated August 27, 1996