ESSAY: Forward into the Past

Here's a safe bet: the next big thing is already here

AS A YOUNG MAN, I WAS NEVER ANY GOOD AT WAITING FOR THE future. Back in 1970, I composed and synthesized a film sound track using a device few people could then have imagined: a mouse-driven computer attached to a piano-like keyboard. The computer (the size of about nine refrigerators lined up side by side) even displayed the musical notes on a color screen, and when I altered a note, I could replay it instantly.

Decades before AOL came on the scene, I had an e-mail account (I still use virtually the same e-mail address I had in 1975), and in...

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