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TCP/IP in the Future

At this writing, TCP/IP can do much more than anyone guessed it would be able to do 15 years ago. You can play music and video over the Internet, access your office computer across a secure, virtually private Internet connection, and shop for rare and unusual products without ever leaving your home. But futurists, experts, and entrepreneurs aren't satisfied. The computer industry is working now to introduce new technologies that will transform the workplace and the homespace.

One of the biggest goals of the computer industry is simply to make the current systems better than they are: faster hardware, better browsers, more capable and more efficient Web sites. This challenge for better products is a central part of the economy, and it will undoubtedly continue as long as buyers have a choice. However, other forces also influence the growth and development of computer technologies:

  • Bandwidth

  • Security

  • Simplicity

  • Economy

Some of these factors were discussed in earlier hours. For instance, Hour 20, "TCP/IP Security," discussed several recent strategies for improving security on TCP/IP networks. This hour describes some of the initiatives that will ultimately make the computerized world simpler and more economical.

Of course, cost is a determining factor for nearly everything in our world economy. Much of the current innovation in the computer industry results from the falling cost of computer hardware. If a PC or a PC-like device costs $5,000, you probably aren't going to buy a special PC to operate your dishwasher. If a server costs $50,000, you probably won't worry about adding servers to create a cluster for your Web site. But as the cost of hardware falls and labor costs rise, a whole new gallery of solutions takes form.

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