In the history of computing, why has the miniaturization of high speed computing power been one of the most significant technological advances? Who are the main contributers to this technology?
The miniaturization of high speed computer power is referred to, in the book The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman, as "the steroids".
When the Internet made a social impact in 1995 via Netscape and the World Wide Web, the tools through which the Internet operated were stand-alone, big, and analog. The shift to the digital world meant changing altogether the way in which we were able to access such a rich tool as instant communication was. Hence, every single object of communication and interaction would have to be significantly altered to fit the need for accessibility that the advent of the Internet made possible.
In 1976 Apple came up with the first consumer computers in the form of the TRS-80, Apple I, and then Apple II. Since globalization had yet not occurred by then, we could argue that this is the first attempt to miniaturise computing by placing the power to utilize the technology in the consumers' homes.
In 1981 the first "laptop", a 23 pound portable computer found its way in the Osborne-1. It featured a FIVE inch screen, a floppy-disk slot, and a massive keyboard.
The 1990's saw the beginning of the Personal Digital Assistants or PDAs. These computing devices were still analog and it was quite easy to manipulate them since there was no complexity to them. Apple's Newton was the most popular PDA of this time period.
It was in 1999 when the first laptop with a WiFi card was created to fit the needs of portable computing. Again, it was Apple who pioneered this with the iBook G3, which was featured in just about every movie in the film industry because of its colorful shell, and because of it being, literally, the first device of its kind to ever exist. Apple will ultimately transform portable technology altogether with the creation of the iPod and then the iPhone. These latter two devices revolutionized technology portability from its very core.