It was not that long ago that computers were a real luxury, most families did not have one – and those who did had only one – and they were viewed as some awesome example of the future. One day, with computers, we would be able to do… well, the possibilities were endless. And a lot of the predictions have already come true, particularly the way that computers have linked up the world via the Internet. It is now difficult for most of us to imagine what our world would be like without the computer.
Without the computer, communication would be slower and less efficient. Shopping would be a more demanding process. If your sports team was far away and obscure, then without the Internet you would be waiting a long time to hear results of any games in which they played. Bands would find it very difficult indeed to get any exposure beyond their home towns. And business has been changed irrevocably by the arrival of computers and particularly the Internet.
If the computer was taken out of our lives tomorrow, we would miss it. Even those of us who are self-confessed technophobes would soon realise what had been lost with its departure. And if we sometimes have cause to curse the influence that computers have – which many of us do – then it is at least worth recognising that this is a trade-off we have had to make. The Information Revolution is up there with the Industrial one in terms of impact.