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In 1951 a man could walk inside a computer. By 2010, a computer cluster with millions of processors will have expanded to building size. In this new paper Gordon Bell explains the history of the computing industry, positing a general theory ("Bell's Law) for the creation, evolution, and death of computer classes since 1951. Using the exponential transistor density increases forecast by Moore's Law in 1965 and 1975 as the principal basis for the life cycle of computer classes after the microprocessor was introduced in 1971, he predicts that the powerful microprocessor will be the basis for nearly all computer classes in 2010, from personal computers and servers costing a few thousand dollars to scalable servers costing a few hundred million dollars. Soon afterward, billions of cell phones for personal computing, and tens of billions of wireless sensor nets will unwire and interconnect everything.
Date of Publication: Fall 2008