Just 18 months ago, very few people have heard or read about Internet, Information Technology (IT) or the Digital Age.
But today, hardly a day passes without some news item or other reminding Malaysians of Internet as well as the dizzying changes that are taking place in the world of IT.
A quick look at the local news since the New Year will give a good illustration. 1997 started off with a New Year Message by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, calling on Malaysians to adapt to a new way of life in the era of information technology where the workforce consists of knowledge workers.
On the next day, Utusan Malaysia followed up the Prime Minister’s call with an editorial entitled “Rakyat Perlu Kuasai Maklumat”.
Other items on IT news in the past 11 days since the beginning of 1997 include:
In the computer and IT world, there have been equally dizzying changes. About 18 months ago, novices were being introduced to prototype Pentium chips, followed quickly by the various Pentium upgrades and then Pentium Pro.
Last week, Intel Corp starting to ship yet another new microprocessor technology that makes personal computers more powerful - four new versions of Pentium microprocessors that support a multimedia-enhancing technology called MMX that Intel plans to make a standard part of all of its microprocessors by mid-1998.
Eighteen months ago, novices were buying the standard 14.4 kbps modems, although 28.8 kbps modem have already come onto to market - but with the warning that they had not been standardised and legalised. Now there is not only 33.6 kbps modem, but announcements that 56 kbps modems will soon be in the market. There are of course even cable modems with downlink speeds of up to 30 megabits per second - a thousand times faster than the 28.8 kilobits per second modems - allowing access to large, crisply detailed images; full-screen, full-motion movies; video chats; and interactive virtual reality games.
The new year of 1997 is also going see the battle of the browsers becoming a full-scale war over the desktop. Microsoft vows that the next version of its operating system will make Web browsers redundant, while Netscape promises that the next version of its Web browsers will make operating systems irrelevant.
Meanwhile, the full-featured personal computer is facing competition from the US$500 “network computers” and even WebTV, a US$300 box that turns ordinary TV sets into Web browsers - which was introduced in the last weeks of 1996.
Malaysians must not lose out and be left behind in the dizzying changes in the computer and IT world - and one way to ensure that Malaysians are in the mainstream of international computer and IT development is to aim for the objective of “one family, one computer” - which should become a national campaign and target.