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Software tools [Technology 1998 analysis and forecast]

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The most exciting and rapidly developing tools in modern society are not mechanical implements for doing physical work but software (particularly for personal computers) and communications (particularly as related to the Internet). Much of this ferment flows from the rapidly growing memory capacity and speed of computers-enhancements that permit them to run ever-larger programs. For many users, the most meaningful development in technical software has been the power of inexpensive PCs to run programs that formerly ran only on mainframes or workstations. Engineers have also benefited from the huge market for PCs and the resulting need to write software that is usable by non-techies. This requirement has promoted such software innovations as graphical user interfaces (GUIs), the ready exchange of data between applications running simultaneously and the ability to swap data with other users across the Internet. Both trends-the growing power and size of technical software for PCs and its greater ease of use-were much in evidence in 1997, and will continue into the foreseeable future

Published in:

IEEE Spectrum  (Volume:35 ,  Issue: 1 )