The PC operating systems wars of the '90s will be viewed as a "quaint oddity" in 2005, while PCs themselves will be relegated to "antique furniture" status, an industry leader claims.
Tom Worthington, past president of the Australian Computer Society and IT industry advocate, writes in his new book that the IT industry of the early 21st century will be an Internet and net-work-dependent community where high-powered terminals will replace the humble PC.
Worthington's book, Net Traveller - Exploring the Networked Nation, was launched last week by NSW Minister for IT, Kim Yeadon, at Sydney's Internet World 99 conference.
In a section on the future of the networked nation circa 2005, he writes "a few people still use personal computers, but mostly as antique furniture. With the availability of low-cost networking, the need for each person to have a stand-alone computer was removed around 1998."
Worthington also suggests that Personal Access Display Devices (PADDs) - the "1998 equivalent of the disposable pocket calculator" - will become commonplace around 2005.
These multifunction devices will provide the user with access to a range of services from mobile communications through to digital keys and TV remote controls.
On the PC operating systems debate, he writes "no one really cares too much if their PADD runs Microsoft's new Windows' 2005 operating system or IBM's OS/2005".
Worthington's book covers a raft of Internet-based experiences from his time as "high-tech tourist" e-mailing his way around the world, to the "first" live image e-mailed from a balloon over Canberra.
Worthington's antics also see him aboard the USS Blue Ridge and transmit more pictures, this time from a bus in England.
Overall, Worthington's diatribe on the Internet's development and tips on its use will not uncover too many mysteries for the country's IT community.
He does, however, offer a few interesting notes on online privacy and how we can mature to become an even more globally competitive high-tech society.
Worthington has compiled a unique perspective on an increasingly difficult-to-define industry. For more information, see http://www.tomw.net.au/nt/