REVIEW: You mention everything but disks.
JOY: You might want to page over satellite telephone... Page fault, and the computer makes a phone call. Direct broadcast or audio disk - that's the technology to do that. It's half a gigabyte - and you get 100 kilobyte data rate or a megabyte or something. I don't remember. You can then carry around with you all the software you need. You can get random data through some communications link. It is very like Dick Tracy. Have you seen these digital pagers? You can really communicate digital information on a portable.
I don't think you need to have a disk with you. There are so many people who believe that you need to have a disk that you'll be able to have one because they'll make it cheap. That's the way things work. It's not what's possible but what people believe is possible...
What's particularly striking about this quote is that he was extraordinarily prescient and wayyyy off simultaneously.
He was talking about how people would use computing devices in the future, and his idea was that instead of mass storage in a small format, we'd have thin clients where even the operating system was served from a remote machine, very much like the Unix consoles he was working on at the time. (at 1200 baud, apparently)
So let's look at what happened. Just as he predicted, hard drives have gotten cheaper and smaller and now everyone has a portable one (iPod). However, the network latency and throughput has not yet caught up to to hard drive speed to where it's feasible to do all of your computing over a network link. You still need an operating system. But he knew that would probably be the case, because so many people wanted it to be like that.
So it seems like he was right on, except that it's obvious that he was thinking that big servers and thin clients would continue to exist. Even though he talked about Apple's new Mac in the interview, I don't think he predicted the huge increase in the performance of cheap hardware.
It's easy to see why. A million times faster is an easy concept to understand. If I told you computers will be a million times faster in 20 years, you'd shrug and say, "sure, that sounds about right." But what neither of us can envision is what people will actually do with that horsepower.
He was exactly right, but he never predicted there would be five or six layers in between pages of RAM and the user's data.
So. . .here's my prediction, taking into account the pace of hardware development and the history of software development. In 20 years, cheap hardware will be ridiculously fast, but it will still look very much like Intel hardware today. We'll have many, many CPU cores to work with, but nobody will use a parallel programming language designed to take advantage of multiple cores. Instead, virtualization (i.e. VMware, Xen) will be integreted into the operating system, and each process will run on its own virtual machine.
People will set about re-writing a version of Photoshop in the new compatibility layer, and everyone will wonder why they'd do that, when the current version of Photoshop runs in Internet Explorer just fine.