The exhibition I am proposing here is titled “Power: The Development of Technology and Computers“. This exhibition mainly explains how the computer environment has changed by the advancement of technology and illustrates where future technology would bring us.
In order to analytically understand how technology has changed computers, the four characteristics of computers will be used: power, mobility, connectivity, and interaction. By comparing these elements of computers, visitors can see what it means to have an iPhone in their pockets.
Although there are multiple factors for the speed of computers, the primary elements are the CPU frequency and the connection speed if the machine is online. Of course, in the recent era, the number of CPU cores and the growth of the GPU speed are also prominent aspects to describe the latest computer environment. For example, the latest Raspberry Pi 4 – a $45 single-board computer equipped with ARM processors – has a similar CPU frequency with the first Apple’s MacBook Air.
Also, the size of both RAM and storage represents the other side of power.
The size determines the mobility of the computer. The initial computers, such as ENIAC, were as big as a room and people had to go to the machines to use them. As technology developed, the size of computers became smaller. Altair 8800, known as the first personal computer, was 7 x 17 x 17.5 inches (we can move it but it is quite difficult to use it outside) and the first laptop computer, Grid Compass, was 38 (H) × 29 (D) × 5 (H) cm. However, the recent “mobile” computer is as small as a watch. Through this development, our relationship with computers has changed: now computers come around us instead of people going to the computer. We might not care whether a thing in front of is “computer”. It might be as high-tech as it could run the trajectory simulation 40 years ago.
The growth of connectivity changed the way computers work. When they had limited connectivity, the relation was one-way: one man to one machine. Now, thanks to the development of 5G, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC, the connection between people and machines has drastically changed. One man has multiple devices and each device connected to another device, which is often connected to the other person. This connectivity also enabled to manipulate machines beyond our hand. In the IoT – Internet of Things- world, tons of things are connected and working on together for any kind of task. It is useful for our daily life but might also be too surveilling.
There are multiple ways to input the information to the computer: mise, keyboard, touch, voice, gesture, acceleration(motion), and so on. Some computers take our information without our consciousness and/or agreement. Also, thanks to the growth of image processing and machine learning technology, computers started to “recognize” or embody eye(s) as their input source.
In contrast, the output of computers has been fundamentally the same although there are upgrades on the resolution and frequency. The most outputs from the computer are sound and visuals, and the quality of these outputs is about to go beyond our perception.
For now, I am thinking of building a space where visitors can see how these elements have grown along with time and can try how much it changed by experiencing the actual difference. For example, showing the frames-per-second of the water-flow simulation would help them realize how powerful the recent computers are in terms of CPU/GPU speed. I am thinking if visitors can see how transparently computers have been implemented to the world and unconsciously invading our society.