One Digital Day: How the Microchip Is Changing Our World

One Digital Day: How the Microchip Is Changing Our World


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One Digital Day: How the Microchip Is Changing Our World by Rick Smolan

No invention in history has spread so quickly throughout the world, or revolutionized so many aspects of human existence, as the microchip. Little more than a quarter century since its invention, there are now nearly 15 billion microchips in use worldwide -- the equivalent of two powerful computers for every man, woman, and child on the planet. The microprocessor is not only changing the products we use, but also the way we live, and, ultimately, the way we perceive reality.One Digital Day is the result of a unique project designed to make people aware of the thousands of microprocessors we unknowingly encounter every day. Rick Smolan, creator of the award-winning 'Day in the Life' photography books and the bestseller 24 Hours in Cyberspace, sent 100 of the world's most talented photojournalists around the globe on July 11, 1997. Their mission: to depict intimate and emotional stories of how this tiny chip-a square of silicon the size of a fingernail, weighing less than a postage stamp -- has transformed our human culture forever. The book features more than 200 compelling photographs, taken on that single day, revealing a world that only science-fiction writers once dared envision. Thanks to microchips, it is a world where science, entertainment, business, health, sports, education, and countless other fields are progressing faster than we can imagine. How pervasive is the microchip? If you took the microchips out of every application in which they are now used, the results would be stunning and frightening. Microwave ovens, dishwashers, and many other kitchen appliances would stop working. Televisions and VCRs would fade to black; stereos would grow mute; and most clocks would stop. Cars wouldn't start, and airplanes would be unable to leave the ground. The phone system would go dead, as would most streetlights, thermostats, and, of course, a half-billion computers. And these are only the most obvious applications. Every factory in the industrial world would also shut down, as would the electrical grid, stock exchanges, and the global banking system. Pacemakers would stop, too, as would surgical equipment and fetal monitoring systems in obstetrics wards. This infinite variety of applications is vividly illustrated by the images captured last July for One Digital Day. A brief sample of what the hundred photographers came back with:

  • Johannesburg, South Africa -- Once on the verge of extinction, cheetahs at the DeWildt Center are implanted with microchips that contain genetic information. This information, read by a scanner, is crucial to the center's efforts to build up the world population, because in-breeding is a big threat to the genetic strength of the cats.
  • Hollywood, California -- The Jurassic Park River Adventure roller coaster is a completely automated ride which was designed with the help of paleontologists and robotics engineers, at a cost of $100 million. This completely automated ride includes "animatronic" dinosaurs which roar, lunge and even spit at riders in passing boats.
  • Bury, England -- Ida Schofield, a 69-year-old grandmother, had never touched a computer or thought she had any need for one until she volunteered as a guinea pig for a state-of-the-art desktop system, with video-conferencing. She now uses it to communicate with family members around the world.
  • Lacey, Washington -- Sprinter Tony Volpentest, born with no hands or feet and only partially formed arms and legs, uses ultra-light artificial feet designed with the help of sophisticated computer modeling programs. He now runs the 100-meter dash only 1.5 seconds slower than the world record holder.
  • Singapore -- The foul-smelling but delicious tropical fruit known as durian is adored throughout Asia, but devotees dread carrying it home in their cars or keeping it around the house. Now connoisseurs of the odoriferous delicacy can order it online from 717 Trading Company and have it delivered just when they're ready to eat it. Since 717 launched its Web site in early 1996, about 20 percent of its sales have come from customers shopping online.
  • Fort Bragg, NC and Sarajevo, Bosnia -- U.S. Army Lieutenant Frank Holmes, stationed 5,000 miles from home in Bosnia, gets his first look at his six-week-old daughter, Morgan, by using a PC-based videoconferencing system. The smooth images that reunited Frank, Morgan, and mom Andrea ran over normal phone lines between computers running ProShare Technology. Frank's commanding officer notes that videoconferencing is the single greatest morale boost for my troops in a long time.

As Andrew S. Grove, Chairman and CEO of Intel Corporation, writes in his foreword, As you turn these pages, you'll see a world being reshaped by technology in ways previously unthinkable. One Digital Day makes it fascinatingly clear that there is no place on, above, or below the earth, that the microprocessor hasn't touched.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812930313
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/28/1998
Pages: 223
Product dimensions: 10.20(w) x 14.36(h) x 1.31(d)

About the Author

In 1991, photojournalist Rick Smolan and his partner Jennifer Erwitt founded Against All Odds Productions, a multimedia publisher specializing in large-scale photographic projects that combine compelling storytelling with state-of-the-art technology.   A former Time, Life, and National Geographic photographer, Smolan had previously created the bestselling Day in the Life photography series.  More than three million copies of his Day in the Life books are in print, and one of them, A Day in the Life of America, spent more than a year on the New York Times Bestseller List.

The first interactive project released by Against All Odds was From Alice to Ocean: Alone Across the Outback.  It gained international recognition as the first illustrated book ever to include an interactive CD-ROM disc, and has since become one of the most recognized multimedia titles in the world of interactive publishing. The San Francisco Chronicle called From Alice to Ocean "a stunning, addictive and mesmerizing experience that may well change the course of publishing forever."

Against All Odds then produced Passage to Vietnam, which caught a rare glimpse of a nation caught in the midst of dramatic change. First released as a large-format illustrated book in the Fall of 1994, Passage to Vietnam was featured on "Good Morning America" and CNN, and in an eight-page photo excerpt in Newsweek. The CD-ROM version of Passage to Vietnam, co-published with Interval Research and distributed by Broderbund Software, was released in June 1994. The Wall Street Journal called it "a thing of beauty on a PC screen," and the CD won numerous industry awards includingthe prestigious Codie Award for Best Overall Multimedia Production of 1996 and the NewMedia INVISION Award for Best of Show, 1995.

In February 1996, Against All Odds orchestrated 24 Hours in Cyberspace -- the largest online event ever to take place in a single day.  The goal of the project was to tell compelling human interest stories about how Cyberspace is changing people's lives -- to create a global portrait of the human face of the on-line revolution. The project resulted in an illustrated book published in November 1996; it was featured on ABC-TV's "Nightline" and appeared as a cover story in US News & World Report. A photographic exhibition of 24 Hours in Cyberspace opened at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History in January 1997, and at that time the project's Web site was inducted into the Museum's permanent archives.

Against All Odds Productions is located in Sausalito, California.

Read an Excerpt

Twenty years ago, while skiing in Sun Valley, Idaho, I was on a chairlift
with a fellow skier. As we rose up above the valley, we talked about
what we did for a living. I explained to her that I made microchips and
I tried to describe what they were and what they did. But the more I
said the more puzzled she became. Finally, I pointed to my digital
watch, a new fangled gadget at the time, and I explained that inside was
a chip-a sliver of silicon-keeping the time and changing the digits. She
still looked confused, so I politely changed the subject.

Recently I thought about how much the world has changed since that
chairlift conversation, and I found myself looking for a tangible way to
demonstrate the remarkable and often invisible ways in which
microchips-microprocessors, microcontrollers and memory chips-are now
woven into the fabric of life in many corners of the world.

To mark the occasion of Intel's thirtieth anniversary and to capture the
incredible impact microprocessors have had on everyday life, Intel
decided to sponsor the book you are holding in your hands. Last July, on
an ordinary day, 100 of the world's leading photojournalists were sent to
every corner of the globe to capture the human face of the computer
revolution during a single 24-hour period. This book is the result: an
extraordinary visual time capsule.

As you turn these pages, you'll see a world being reshaped by technology
in ways previously unthinkable. For one thing, the photographs show the
effect of the millions of personal computers now in use. Increasingly,
these computers are connected in networks, which are in turn linkedto
form what is rapidly becoming a global nervous system. World news,
personal correspondence, educational pursuits, music, art and business
now flow seamlessly through this network, merging Detroit, Dakar and
Delhi into one place.

But microprocessors are also penetrating and improving existing products
of every conceivable kind. Today's cars, for example, have numerous
microprocessors tucked away inside of them to control brakes, lock doors
and to remind you to fasten your seat belt. Microprocessors are in toys
and thermostats; in cellular phones and automatic teller machines. They
change how existing products function and allow the creation of new ones.
In the aggregate, they change how we live, how we work, how we entertain
ourselves and how we are able to imagine-and thus create-the world our
children will inherit.

We've come a long way from the time when a digital watch was the best
example I had to explain the microchip. Intel's sixty-thousand plus
employees are proud of the pivotal roles we have played in the history of
the computer revolution. We hope you will enjoy this photographic record
of an ordinary day in the life of the microprocessor.

Andy Grove
Chairman and CEO of Intel Corporation

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