If my memory serves, it was the summer of 1985 (late) when my friend Jimmy had the movie 2010, based on the novel of the same name by Arthur C. Clarke, that he thought I’d like. Being a sci-fi fan even back then, I thought I’d check it out. I knew of the movie 2001 but had never seen it. Jimmy assured me that I wouldn’t need to have seen the first to enjoy the sequel.
I went to Jimmy’s house and watched the movie with him. I have to say that the movie made a huge impression on me. It felt so real back then, as if the things in the movie could be technology we’d see in 25-years and the Cold War still very much in effect (who could have predicted that the Soviet Union would fall a few years after the movie was released?). The space stations were designed on how they’d have to be done to provide simulated gravity. The space ships Discovery and Leonov were very real feeling, especially since it took them 2-years to reach Jupiter. The sleeping chambers seemed a bit more of a stretch, but it felt reasonable and real.
Finally, the ultimate thing for me was the HAL-9000 (and SAL-9000) computers. The movie had them looking like mainframe consoles of the time, only they contained proper artificial intelligence, where the computer could carry on a relatively normal conversation with a human, not based simply on a series of preconditioned responses like those automated phone systems of today, but one where the computer could come up with its own, crafted responses and questions. The ultimate in A.I.
I wanted to get into the A.I. field very much because of 2010. In school, I started taking computer classes and for the first time, I knew what I wanted to do when I “grew up.” Getting into the A.I. field was not the Lord’s will for me. Instead, I got into the IS/IT field where I indeed worked on mainframes before branching out into other areas.
In Japan, because I was working in a large Data Center with the large mainframe and all its equipment (tape drives, disk drives, network equipment, and other items to support a mainframe), I had achieved at least part of my dream, even if the A.I. part wasn’t there. As such, it was here that I not only bought my own VHS copy of 2010, but I bought the novels 2001 and 2010. The books were very enjoyable and I read just about everything else that Mr. Clarke had published. Some I found great and some I found so-so.
Because Mr. Clarke’s work influence on my choosing a career path, it is with sadness that I see he passed away today. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.