Each jump in computing comes with great change to society and our planet. It impacts each and every one of us whether we realize it or not. The release of Ara will be one of these “jumps”. But to understand the future we must first look to the past.
In 1943, in the heat of WWII, British codebreakers developed Colossus. The machine is arguably the world’s first electronic (vacuum tube), programmable computer. It was this top-secret team that included Alan Turing, one of the founders of modern computing theory. This desire to crack enemy encryption ignited a spark that began the Digital Age.
A few years later another spark occurred in 1957. A small company called Fairchild Semiconductor created the first commercial integrated circuit (The idea being that many transistors can be “printed” onto one chip). This company would not only help invent modern computing, but give Silicon Valley its name (They chose to use Silicon instead of Germanium). Fairchild’s technology contributed to the Apollo Guidance Computer, a device that would take mankind off of this Earth. The same guidance technology also fueled a heated nuclear standoff between world superpowers. Keep in mind that without the space race, this technology might not exist.
As the Cold War accelerated, billions of US tax dollars were set aside for computer research and development. Sparks began flying. ARPANET (1969) gave birth to the modern Internet. The Apple II (1977) brought computing into the masses. Powerful computing had moved from the military and universities into the hands of us all.
As the 20th Century came to a close, mankind was in an unstoppable race for computing that continues to this day.
Most recently, a spark was ignited that engulfed the world faster than any other event in the history of computing. The 128mb RAM iPhone (2007) was exponentially more powerful than the 72kb “RAM” Apollo Guidance Computer (412 MHz vs 2.048 MHz). The market success of the iPhone created a consumer electronic gold rush. In a few short years these supercomputers ended up in the pockets of billions, and were interconnected by the modern-day ARPANET. Today, we call it the Internet.
A new race had began, this time to sell pocket supercomputers. A multi-billion dollar industry exploded just to build and market these “Smartphones”. A mixture of advertising and planned/natural obsolescence drove many to buy and throw away a pocket computer every year.
By 2015 billions of dollars were being made, alongside tons of electronic waste. The pace of innovation had faltered as manufacturers saturated the market. The profit to be made on producing an Android PC was now just a few cents.
Since 1958, the Advanced Research Project Agency had been developing a technique to rapidly design new technology. The agency was created because of Sputnik, and later gave ARPANET its name. (ARPA was renamed DARPA in 1972).
In the DARPA Model, project leaders are given a fixed amount of time to create radical new technology. When a project is completed, those involved leave the agency, taking the “DARPA Model of Innovation” with them.
Motorola created a division to replicate the DARPA model, creating the secretive ATAP (Advanced Technologies and Projects). There at Motorola, along with ex-DARPA engineers, Project ARA was born.
In a dizzying, short span of time, Google bought Motorola (2011), which was then sold to Lenovo (2014). Google retained ATAP patents, along with the secretive ATAP. ARA was now cleared to move full steam ahead.
In early 2016 the final spark will be lit that will change everything. Project Ara floods the market. In a few short months what it means to be a “Smartphone”, and in a sense to be human, will change completely.
The following pieces will be a series of predictions of not only what could be, but what is currently possible utilising ARA and modern manufacturing techniques.
It’s about to get interesting….