Roddenberry was Right

Gene Roddenberry, the genius behind the early years of the Star Trek series, had an amazingly prescient view of the future.

In the original Star Trek TV series, crew members used devices called communicators which bore a remarkable resemblance to cell phones.

Then, in Star Trek The Next Generation episodes, items that seemed for all the world to be touch-screen computers, iPads, and iPhones were constantly in use. Digital everything. Ubiquitous screens.

Roddenberry got it.

And now, as we daily put to use that which he foresaw decades ago, we reach a point where old labels are shedding their meaning. We still use the term “phone” in various ways, but the idea of an analog device dedicated only to audio voice communication seems rather – quaint. But, we still cling to terms like cell phone, iPhone, Smartphone – heck, the phone is the least-used aspect of my iPhone!

In 10 years, we’ll look back and wonder at the old legacy labels that described separate “things” like phones or cameras or computers.

I’d like to suggest that ultimately, Gene Roddenberry had it right again. You know what these increasingly portable devices are, in their various configurations and form factors?

That’s right. Communicators. Personal Communicators. With which we send and receive messages, info, voice, video – it’s really a far more accurate description than phone, computer, tablet, or what have you.

Kinda brings a whole new meaning to the acronym PC, if you think about it…


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Computer Bigamy – welcome to the ceremony!

I’ve used PCs since the days of dual floppy drives and DOS 2.x. Not out of great levels of emotional commitment, mind you, but simply out of business necessity – that’s what was used in my work environments. Shotgun marriage, don’t you know.

Apart from a brief, temporary fling 20 years ago using a Mac for a while with Quark, I’ve stayed faithful to the PC all this time out of necessity and intertia. We’ve been through a lot of hard times together – upgrades, crashes, viruses, etc. I never did take a final binding vow “for better or for worse,” I just knew that for a season there’d be a lot of worse.

I’m about to become a bigamist.

The family PC is wheezing, with one disk in the grave, and frankly, I’m tired of Windows and all the headaches that come with it. So today, a new iMac gets set up. And what is always important to me is initial user experience – how intuitive is a system to set up and use?

Being thoroughly spoiled by the iPhone, the bar of my expectations is high. So here we go – you’re invited to peek in on the ceremony as I take the veil off this new system everyone else praises.

10:15 am – De-packaging. It’s all in one (attractive) box, which is a nice first impression. First glance inside – wow, I see simplicity. The all-in-one screen (27 inch diagonal – awesome!), a power cord, and a box with (I assume) keyboard and mouse. I’m so used to a jumble of stuff with every new computer…! Look, I realize this is external beauty, but…what a gorgeous white wedding dress!

10:20 – Set-up of keyboard and mouse – brainless (mouse cord a bit short for my tastes). Powering up screen, and now I want to see how far I can get without instructions. Because I’m a guy, and because that, to me, is an important litmus test of usability.

10:30 – Welcoming and opening screens – awesome. After establishing my language and country, it IMMEDIATELY did a wireless network scan and setup. Then, asked for my Apple ID. Recognizes me right away, coaxes to take a picture to go with main account, wants to now link with my MobileMe account. Done. Setup by 10:37. Painless. Umm…this is awesome, folks.

10:40 – Downloading new iTunes version. Speed of download is fantastic.

10:50 – Setting up user accounts – just slightly cumbersome, but not bad. Nice sets of controls.

11:00 – OK, I don’t need to write anymore. Getting this thing all configured, without once looking at documentation. I’m sold – I’m a Mac!

I guess I’ll to wait awhile to retire the other 2 computers, but I think I’ll eventually divorce these common-law PCs. For now, I’ll be a half-happy computer bigamist!


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