Arthur C. Clarke Sees the Future
Author and futurist Arthur C. Clarke was known worldwide for his science fiction writings, such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and Rendezvous with Rama, but he was also one of the most important visionaries of the last century-most notably, he originated the concept of the geostationary communications satellite in 1945. In 1956, however, Clarke wrote a letter to Andrew G. Haley, president of the American Rocket Society, where he described one potential use for a geostationary communications satellite, to create a "position-finding grid whereby anyone on earth could locate himself by means of a couple of dials on an instrument about the size of a watch"-what we now know as GPS.
About 20 years ago, I went to visit Mr. Clarke in Sri Lanka. He was just recovering from a serious illness in his very simple home. He expressed much interest in an early version of ArcView 1.0 that I showed him, and he shared with me his vision of a world where all geospatial data would be available to everyone. Thinking back on my meeting with Clarke and witnessing the dramatic social changes that implementation of this technology has brought, I wanted to share his letter to Haley with ArcNews readers.