Vehicles are now computers in motion

This edition of Automotive Industries took me back to another life, when I edited a technology magazine in the mid 1990’s. That was the time when computers finally became useful, The advent of the Pentium processor meant that PCs became more than glorified typewriters and adding machines. They could be used to run processes, as well as analytical programs. In short, they became useful.

Writing about technology up to that point was mostly about memory, DOS tweaks and processor power (horse-power in motor language). Almost as much time was spent investigating the specifications of a new PC as poring over brochures when buying a car. At that stage the Internet was in its infancy, and mobile phones, where available, were monstrous devices with limited functionality.

The parallel is that cars today also work. They are powerful enough to break the speed limit, to pull the vehicle up a steep hill when it is fully loaded–all using less fuel than the previous model. The same is true of the other mechanicals–gearbox, suspension, steering, etc. All that motoring journalists are left to write and broadcast about is the looks, and whether there are enough cup holders.

Once we had computing horsepower, the next wave was convergence–which has resulted in the smartphones of today. As with car models and marques, many devices had limited lifespan, and others failed to catch on. Just because we can make something does not mean there is a market.

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