Tech Industry

Top 10 technologies that could live another 20 years

1. The keyboard

When the technology was founded: Around 1860 when the first QWERTY-keyboard was developed.

Why the technology will be around for another 20 years: The keyboard is in practically every device there is - even to the mobile device and television remotes. For some time, the keyboard was restricted to simply the word processor and the computer. It took a while for mobile devices to take advantage of the QWERTY keyboard style on handsets.

However, innovative technologies allow a wider breadth of input into computers and mobile devices. But even with touch technology, arguably spurred on by tablets and touch-screen phones like the iPad and iPhone, the keyboard still reigns as the most natural and innate input device for all to use.

54 comments
Chuck L
Chuck L

Nobody could find a picture of a regular analog modem to illustrate the "Analog Technologies" page? The picture being used is of a VoIP adapter ... which _does not_ work on a dial-up line.

G4tekeeper
G4tekeeper

It says "Top 10 technologies..." and I'm counting only 9!

jahfrey
jahfrey

sorry, but as a java "user" I hope it goes away soon. I know it won't, but really, as an end user of java software, I find it clunky, prone to crashing, and just frustrating. Hate it!

pgit
pgit

Lest we forget the lowly pencil is a 'technology,' and paper isn't going to go away like some expected it would. (remember the "Xerox, the document company" ads?) I also add the surge protector/power strip will be around 20 years hence.

Uglyfishhead
Uglyfishhead

It will stay because changing would require updating old documents to be readable in the new format and because it is embeded in office processes and procedures. What great new invention would have such a major payback that changing will be cost effective for business in the 10 to 20 years? No, new stuff will be added and office will go when it is rarely used. It may be on the cloud, but the functions are what business needs.

fjkelly
fjkelly

I see only 8 technologies listed....?

jkameleon
jkameleon

1. Keyboard is very practical on desktop, but very frustrating on a phone. Picking on that tiny little buttons makes me wanna puke. Handwriting recognition is far better, despite of being far from perfect for the time being. 2. Office- sure, but not necessarily from Microsoft. I see quite a future for Openoffice & Libreoffice. 3. Agreed. We'll ditch the paper only if we start using trees for firewood again, which is unlikely to happen. 4. I don't watch TV anymore, but... well... if theatre survived, TV also will, I guess. 5. The main problem with optical media is their durability. Burned CDs "rot", or chemically degrade in about 5 years or less, which means, that they are practically useless. This technology is as good as dead. 6. True, but not necessarily GPS. Smartphones in their present shape will last for a long, long time. 7. Sure. Not just communications, but computers as well. Mechanical & electrical analog computers had been with us since the time immemorial, and they will remain in use until the end of civilization, as a learning tool, if not anything else. When learning sytem theory, nothing beats seeing differential equations being solved in front of you, on a machine you can see, touch, and play with. 8. C# has better chances. Newer & better than Java, and most important of all: It's not a proprietary standard. Visual Studio is light years ahead of competition, and Mono & Sharpdevelop are doing just fine.

frank-cox
frank-cox

MSOffice may survive for a long time but not as it is. Right now a company can have someone like myself show them what it really cost to use MSOffice, it;s horrendous! Not only the software , most of which will never be used as was stated earlier, but upgrading equipment to power it. Docx is a format designed to do nothing but make MS money, it really has no advantage other than to make it more proprietary. It is a lot cheaper , and better, to switch machines that are struggling to run MSOffice from Windows to Linux. The increase in speed is greater than the equipment upgrade would bring and if the people just have to have MSOffice it will run under Wine ,or Crossover Linux which is a commercial version of Wine, just peachy for a fraction the cost of new equipment and new software (MSOffice). Personally I am not a huge fan of Open Office but it will work and who can beat free? . Softmaker Office will replace Word, Excell, and Powerpoint and for most the Dbase program in Office. it cost about $23.00 per license, an incredible bargain! The word processor is lightning quick.fully compatible, full featured (iincluding docx) and comes in Windows and Linux versions and will run in Wine or Crossover in Mac as well. Softmaker Presentations,which replaces Powerpoint is better, faster, and even supports animated sideshows. I have MSOffice and I did have it set up to run in Linux but I prefer Softmaker even in Windows, regardless of price.

jeh_it
jeh_it

Several of those examples refered to it but it was not explicitly mentioned. We could just call it number 10, saving the best for last.

frank-cox
frank-cox

Faxing is a horrible way to send documents when we have digital transfers capable of sending an exact, editable copy . It is a waste of trees , power , and bandwidth.

jjankie
jjankie

FAXING - nothing on the horizon to replace it.

jayohem
jayohem

The only thing I can conclude is that TechRepublic (registered name and trademark, etc.) is the 10th item that will be around for 20 more years. :-)

DocBambs
DocBambs

There is no question that fax should have died out a decade ago, but as long as people have bits of paper which need a signature they want it delivered secure and on time, they will go for the fax machine. Now, Voice over IP networks should have killed it, but all that has happened is that the MFD manufacturers have just added support for Fax Servers. There are still some sectors where they are still putting new fax technology in (such as Legal, finance and banking). As someone who works in the Fax Server world I continue to be amazed that I am still working, but until email can be made secure to any address, can be guaranteed delivered and delivered in a timely fashion, then fax will continue. I also think the lack of standardisation for email addresses continues to be a concern for many industries - we wouldn't accept every town adopting a different way of formatting street names and house numbers.

bgrimsle
bgrimsle

Like others, noticed only 9 items. But one item is labeled "analog tehnologies", and the write-up is for dial-up Internet access. They probably merged these accidentally.

xandian
xandian

Cellphones may not last another 20 years, but smartphones will. I believe that as cellphones have evolved into smartphones, the evolution has not ended. The merging of communications and information will at sometime in the future be hard-wire integrated into the human body. As new advances in being able to connect visuals to our brain will give birth to anything you can see on a monitor being able to be seen by the brain with maybe a quick visit to contact lenses first. Voice recognition will do away with keyboards and eardrums will be hard-wired for sound (blue tooth hearing aids first). It is just a matter of time and maybe less than twenty years.

MrBeck
MrBeck

.. that proved popular at some time. There is some Fortran floating around still. Buckets of COBOL (standardised in the 1960's). ADA in US milspec kit. There is even a bit of PL/1 still running on some IBM kit. Do something hard, find me a language that won't be around in 20 years time.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen moderator

Counting on your fingers, so you know you have the 10 items you said you had. ;) For those complaining that Office is not a technology, consider that the MS office file formats are almost universal, and most companies are unaware that there are other office suites than MS Office that can open them.

MrBeck
MrBeck

Who is making this list, an Arts graduate? There is almost nothing left in PSTN telephony that is analog. The signal on the copper pair for voice is, the signal for a v. series modem is, but all of the signal interpretation and generation is digital technology. That is the actual modem is digital. You might find some analog signal processing in a TV or radio station but not in any modern receiving technology.

MrBeck
MrBeck

I've looked at items 1 and 2 and already disagee. MS Office is not a "technology" and there is no guaranty that it will remain in use for 10 more years. Some office style functionality will I'm sure but "MS Office", not so sure.

xandian
xandian

Just compare a 700MB CD-ROM to a 4GB Blu-ray. Minor correction...... Is Blue-ray not 25 gig?

gak
gak

Office - may be gone with Windows. Email - will be replaced with social network style of communication. This already happens. Optical media - will be replaced with whatever replaces flash, say phase memory. Currently being partially replaced by HDD.

ewi3020
ewi3020

First, I'd argue that Office is a 'technology', certainly not a single technology that has been around since 1990. A software package, yes, but the underlaying technology driving it has certainly changed over the years. More importantly, I do not see it retaining it's status over the next 20 years. Most corporate users do not begin to use all the features of even Office 2003, and I don't see any new features driving corporate upgrades. If anything it's the fear of being unsupported. But for the cost, I see more & more companies switching to open source alternatives. For my company, it's probably a $1 million upgrade to Office 2010, for very very little actual useful enhancement in return. add in training & suport costs, and it's even less of a deal. I also have to take isue with the comment 'understandably the most expensive office and productivity suite of programs on the market'. No, I'm sorry, that is one of the least understandable product pricing. If Open Office can offer what - 80, 90, 95%?? if the features of MS Office ...for FREE...then how does the 5-15% more features from MS justify a $450 price tag. Especially when most of the features are not going to ever be used by most of the people using the product??? Sorry, it's just one of my pet peeves/rants...

RASkelton
RASkelton

The Top 10 Technologies only offer 9 examples, so I guess the ability to read with some "common sense" and make corrections must be the ultimate example.

Quizmaster
Quizmaster

There are only 9 items! Perhaps the 10th is the calculator?

Luke G.
Luke G.

The language is just a toolset (and in the case of Java, also an environment) for the developer to use to create and present an application to an end-user. If your house falls apart because the 2x4s were not nailed in properly, you would not blame the hammer that the builder used...you'd blame the builder! My manager told me this a long time ago, and I've seen it come true too often: "There are lots of programmers, but very few _good_ ones."

vegesm
vegesm

Having eclipse for java is very good and effective. I like it much more than Visual Studio

jkameleon
jkameleon

The way it looks right now, the internet will devolve into just another government/corporation controlled propaganda machine.

ws552
ws552

We may still have it, but the Gov't will likely have regulated control of it.

jeh_it
jeh_it

Often what gets faxed is documents that have been signed or forms that have been filled out. This saves the person from having to scan it into the computer in some reasonable format and send it as an attachment to someone's email just to have them need to print it out again.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I don't get it. Digital signatures can be added to a document. E-mail may not be secure and guaranteed, but neither is a fax. Phone lines can be tapped or broken; the hardcopy can be picked up before the intended recipient gets to it. E-mail is certainly faster and in some ways more secure, and accessible from more locations than a physical fax machine. I wonder how many people are using web- or e-mail-based fax services to send to phone numbers they think are still tied to faxes but are in reality just other electronic services? Faxing is the vampire of the 21st century, and we should all be at its castle gates with burning torches and wooden stakes.

vegesm
vegesm

There will be feature phones as long as we have mobile phones: they are cheaper, have more battery life and most importantly: most people only use mobile phones for texting and phoning. They don't need apps, gps, wifi or even bluetooth.

Ed Woychowsky
Ed Woychowsky

That someone wrote an AppleSoft BASIC interpreter in JavaScript? Makes me want to write a COBOL compiler in C#.

MrBeck
MrBeck

Lets see how well a copy of MS Office from say 1991 (10 years rather than 20) can deal with the documents produced by Office 2010/2007/2003/... The formats may be ubiquitous but they are not compatible even between versions of Office.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen moderator

"You might find some analog signal processing in a TV or radio station but not in any modern receiving technology. " All transmission technology is analog at the transmitter output...and the receiver input. What happens before and after transmission may be digital. The modulating signal may be digital. But the output from any radio (that is, wireless) transmitter, including your phone, is purely analog.

davidm
davidm

Obviously, otherwise it would have no advantage over a traditional 4.7GB DVD or 8.5GB DVD-DL!

Solenoid
Solenoid

Also a peeve/rant of mine. I use LibreOffice by default, but also have OpenOffice and MS Office installed to cover when there's a major issue. I suggest that a generation may have to pass before people wake up to the costs of and alternatives to MS Office. Conventional wisdom = "Everyone uses this. I must also." But then, I hear the same ignorant generalizations about MSIE, which has dropped significantly in market share in the past years (and for good progressive reasons). Invariably this comes from the same people who use the mantra, "I've been doing this for XX years, you can't tell me different." This type will always be around in some form.

MrBeck
MrBeck

An error occurred trying to post your new message:null You must enter the text for the body of your message This is what happens when you let a programmer design the UI

jeh_it
jeh_it

I would contend that as long as the US Constitution stands, the government will not have full control of the Internet or any other digital media. Furthermore, the global nature of the Internet would make it very hard for the goverment to regulate, although it may try hard like the government has in China.

DocBambs
DocBambs

I agree with a lot of what you're saying Palmetto though I do wonder how many users receiving an email claiming to include a Digital Signature would be unsure how to validate it. The phone tapping issue was a concern 10+ years ago, but very few users are now using analogue lines that can be easily tapped - and it's hard to tap a fax call and get a cohesive fax image out of it (though a number of the PBX call recording systems seem to have functionality in that area.) Of course, you should add that there are a number of options now for secure email too. I regularly ask why business users who are using MFDs for fax why they aren't using the scan to email option instead, but I think they have this (as you say, perhaps misplaced) perception of trust and security about fax. Old style fax machines are certainly security risks - in the UK (where I'm based) the financial regulator has actually put in regulations requiring all electronic transactions (including email, telephone, cell phone, text messaging, IM and fax) to be recorded for later inspection and this has meant that most companies now route inbound fax to and from desktop applications (including email & EDM systems) using fax servers. An observation I would also make is that many companies are sending and receiving faxes between themselves between fax servers and never actually become paper documents. The web based email to fax services have become popular but some of the large organisations I have dealt with have been nervous about security - back to the trust thing. I think some of the other items in the 20 year list will also continue because they are trusted - the keyboard will stay because, though we know that speech recognition is now very impressive, you can't use it in a crowded office (without looking like an idiot) and you would always be concerned about it misunderstanding you; printing will continue because we like to hold our document (though I wonder what the increasing use of the Kindle and it's ilk will do to that perception); and even MS Office, despite being wholly unsuitable for some users (due it's level of complication) will be here because we blindly assume that business correspondence cannot be produced on anything else. Oh, and while fax is paying my mortgage, I won't be at the castle gates! Twenty years is a long time though....

biNuMobile
biNuMobile

Agree these phones will be around for a long time. Increasingly these are being used to access the internet too. Sites like www.getjar.com and Nokia Ovi store allow users to download apps to their phones that are not just games. Apps on feature phones absolutely! There are apps that allow users to access Facebook, News and other services on feature phones. We provide over 50 apps that allow access to the internet Services & have recently passed 1 million users a month. We are seeing significant growth in Internet access in emerging markets. Even in the USA 73% of all phones are still feature phones. Feature phones are not going away any time soon.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen moderator

That new versions of MS Office either can't read or break old documents has been one of my peeves with Microsoft for years. Try getting Office 2007 to open an Office 5.0 document. Ain't going to happen...

djsesso
djsesso

I think he meant DVD

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Are there digital fax machines? I thought they still required an analog connection. If they're sending faxes to and from fax servers, why not use e-mail attachments? I just don't get it.

Marc Jellinek
Marc Jellinek

CDs (music and data): being replaced by downloads DVDs/BluRay (movies and data): being replaced by downloads CDs/DVDs/BluRay (for local backups): never really replaced tape backup The only place I can see portable media retaining some level of usefulness would be for portable devices like cell phones and slates. CompactFlash and SD beat them in terms of physical size, capacity and cost. I can't see optical media being anything more than a niche technology within 10 years.

NINJA1200
NINJA1200

Bluray is around for ages, and never took off and it never will. By the time CD-R recorders reached their speed limit (about 52x), already DVD-/+R recorders were in the market taking their place. What happens now is that DVD recorders have reached their limite (about 22x) a few years ago, and bluray didn??t yet took off as they should have by now by a long time. How wants plastic discs, if we have flash memory cheaper and quicker!?