25 Years of Predictions:
Our Greatest Hits
Predicting the future isn't easy. Sometimes PC World has been right on the money. At other times, we've missed it by a mile. Here are three predictions we made that were eerily prescient--and three where we may have been a bit too optimistic.
1983 What we said: "The mouse will bask in the computer world limelight... Like the joystick before it, though, the mouse will fade someday into familiarity."
We hit that one out of the park. Mice are so commonplace that they're practically disposable.
1984 What we said: "Microsoft Windows should have a lasting effect on the entire personal computer industry."
"Lasting" was an understatement. Windows has now amassed for Microsoft total revenues in the tens of billions of dollars and is so ubiquitous and influential that it has been almost perpetually embroiled in one lawsuit or another, usually involving charges of monopoly or of trademark and patent infringements.
1988 What we said:"In the future you'll have this little box containing all your files and programs... It's very likely that eventually people will always carry their data with them."
For most people, that little box is now also their MP3 player or cell phone.
And Biggest Misses
1987 What we said: "When you walk into an office in 1998, the PC will sense your presence, switch itself on, and promptly deliver your overnight e-mail, sorted in order of importance."
When we arrive in our office, the computer ignores us, slowly delivers the overnight e-mail, and puts all the spam on top.
1994 What we said: "Within five years... batteries that last a year, like watch batteries today, will power [PDAs]."
Perhaps our biggest whiff of all time. Not only do these superbatteries not exist (nor are they even remotely in sight), but PDAs are pretty much dead too.
2000 What we said: We wrote about future "computers that pay attention to you, sensing where you are, what you're doing, and even what your vital signs are... Products incorporating this kind of technology...could hit the market within a year."
While many devices now feature location-sensing hardware, such a PC has yet to come to pass. And frankly, we'd be glad to be wrong about this one.