News You Can Use 8/17/00
Past and Future
We've recently entered a new millennium
and a new century. Where have we been and where are we going?
There are a handful of major innovations that have changed
the direction of mankind over the last 130 years. Go back 130
years and you'll find no electricity, the telegraph but no telephone,
steam locomotives, but no airplanes and no automobiles. As
the 20th century opened the Wright Brothers hadn't yet flown at
Kitty Hawk, Henry Ford's experimental vehicles had a top speed
of 20 mph, and Thomas Edison had just brought electricity and
electric illumination to only small portions of a few large cities.
Mass produced automobiles, commercial air travel, the transistor,
radio, television, mainframe computers, and atomic energy have
all played their part in our lifetime, but the personal
computer and the Internet may be the innovation that most shapes
our lives. As your neighbors sleep, you can trade U.S.
stocks in Hong Kong right from your keyboard. If you hate malls
you can do your holiday shopping on-line and wait for FedEx and
UPS to ring your doorbell, never having set foot in a store. Missed
dinner? Bring up a menu on-line and wait for the delivery guy.
Hate the hassles of buying a new car? Go on-line, pick the make
and model you want, find out what it cost the dealer, pit a number
of dealers against each other in a bidding war, and some firms
will even deliver your new car to your driveway. Hate to grocery
shop? Go to Peapod or WebVan and order your groceries to be delivered
in a couple hours. Hate being pitched by a stockbroker that also
makes a market in a stock? You can receive research in your
email, go on-line and place your own trade for $7, and get a confirmation
as fast as you can click on an icon. Whole industries are
springing up where they didn't exist yesterday. Thanks to companies
like Priceline.com, Cheap Tickets, Expedia, and Travelocity, airlines
can fill seats at the last minute that would have gone empty.
Whole companies can have a significant worldwide market presence
without having the overhead of a single retail outlet or a single
retail employee. Sure, some of these companies are stubbing their
toes and bloodying their noses along the way, but just as Thomas
Edison and the Wright brothers had many failures before they succeeded,
the Internet WILL become a finely honed machine. We are confident
that 100 years from now as the next century begins, they will
look back and select the Internet as one of the most significant
events of the 21st century.
hope, professionals work." -- Garson Kanin
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