Vapourtech October 23, 2016Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
You’ll be aware of vaporware, that is software that is massively hyped in advance and then, well, never arrives and often with no official cancellation.
The game Duke Nukem Forever was a bit like that. Long lauded in advance but delayed by… decades actually. Actually the fact it did arrive made it unusual. And there were other more, shall we say, serious apps that had similar problems.
But what about technology. Take fusion. For as long as I’ve been around nuclear fusion has been the coming thing. It’s always, though five or ten years away. I’m near enough certain it will manifest itself eventually, but I’d be willing to bet we’re talking many many decades, perhaps even a century or two before we’re able to harness it.
Airships? They’ve been. They’ve gone. They may be coming back but it would be a brave person who believed they were the future of air transportation. That doesn’t stop brave people declaring just that.
Monorails? Kind of sort of. Famously these were parodied in the Simpsons, but when I were a lad they were the coming thing. No illustration of a city of the future, the near future at that, was complete without a stylish monorail (usually a suspended carriage but not always) arcing between buildings and across parks. Here’s an example of same from the early 1960s. This sort of stuff gives a boy expectations, it really does.
Sadly they were unfulfilled. I’ve never been on one, not even the Docklands Light Railway. And the idea that one would be put in in, say, Dublin seems fantastical – though it would be interesting to do a case analysis as to whether it would be more or less disruptive than on trams. But look, that’s all moonshine, it isn’t going to happen. Granted, unlike fusion, monorails actually exist (anyone remember the excellent one in Farenheit 451?).
There’s other vapour tech. SSTs, another technology that came and went and has yet to return, though they may be back. And on air flight who now speaks of hypersonic transports? No one. No one speaks of them.
I guess large tranches of the space programme can be shoved in there, particularly the human space programme. We’re still at low earth orbit. The clue is in the word ‘low’. There’s some talk we’ll go a bit further but not much sign of it at the moment. I’d be willing to put good money on it that no manned Mars landing will occur before I’m 70. Possibly later.
And so on. Of course few enough of these were announced as such. Or not many – the US SSTs were. And few were cancelled as such. But the dynamic isn’t entirely different.
I don’t know if this is a cause for despair. Technology, as is its way, has occupied other niches, ones we never thought of, or at least not deeply, in the 1960s and 1970s. Communications most obviously, but not exclusively.
Anyhow, any other examples of vapour tech?