predicting glass

As We May Think

Toronto. Wikipedia has an article on a famous essay that predicted things we take for granted today – like computers, Google Glass, AI, internet, robots and more. In 1939, Vannevar Bush published his essay “Mechanization and the Record”. After the war ended, (written before Hiroshima and Nagasaki) an expanded article was published in the July 1945 edition of Atlantic Monthly titled “As We May Think”. An abridged version was published a few months later in September, after the Atomic bombs were dropped.

Bush envisions his tiny camera using dry photography to develop the tiny negatives. The process pictured by Bush used diazo crystals developed with ammonia fumes, a system I used in the early 1960s teaching data transmission for Bell. While Bush felt his camera would snap any relevant stills under control of the wearer, Google Glass used a 5 megapixel (later 8) camera to continuously record a full colour video of all the wearer saw. Privacy concerns curtailed the promising Google experiment.

George Dunbar sent me a note on the September 10, 1945 LIFE reprint of this abridged article (beginning on page 112). Looking back, it is “Deja Vu all over again” as NY Yankee player Yogi Berra would say.

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