Name: Mike Spalding
Date: Around 1995
How do scientists come up with new computers that can reach other countries
in a matter of seconds?
Why is it any more surprising to be able to reach other countries (electron-
ically) in a few seconds than to reach across the US? In fact, that has
been possible since the days of the telegraph, over a hundred years ago.
What has changed is the quantity of information that can be simultaneously
transferred - first through improvements in the electrical wiring, and then
more recently through optical fibers and satellite communications. The
people developing all this have not been so much scientists (although
scientists were responsible for discovering things like electricity and
lasers that make optical fibers possible) but the engineers and other
developers at some of the big industrial communications companies. Similar-
ly, improvements in computer speed have mostly been through industrial
competition rather than scientific innovation. And these new wonderfully
fast computers just drive everything else nowadays.
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Update: June 2012