This 1999 tech magazine column predicted the rise of smartphones with scary accuracy (AND their effect on privacy)

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
A column written in 1999 accurately predicted the rise of smartphones (Rex)

Ever since the iPhone was launched in 2007, smartphones have become a part of everyday life.

But not many people could have predicted the exact technology and what it would be used for – but then not everyone is a Star Trek writer.

David Gerrold, however, is exactly that – and a recently unearthed tech column he wrote in 1999 eerily predicted the rise of the smartphone.

Not only did Gerrold accurately state how the phone would be used, what size it would be and what we would use it for, he also warned that it would lead to privacy issues.

The column was shared on Twitter by tech writer Esther Schindler, who at the time was the technology editor of the magazine that published Gerrold’s predictions.

He wrote in the column: ‘It will be a box less than an inch thick and smaller than a deck of cards,” Gerrold writes.

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‘The size will be determined by what’s convenient to hold, not by the technology inside.’

Full marks so far – but Gerrold didn’t stop there.

He wrote: ‘The box will have a high-res colour screen, a microphone, a plug for a headset or earphones, a camera lens, wireless connectivity, cellphone and beeper functions, a television and radio receiver, a digital recorder, and it will have enough processing power and memory to function as a desktop system.’

Star Trek writer David Gerrold is something of a technology prophet (Wikipedia)

He also correctly predicted that the invention would feature emails and speech recognition that would be able to run ‘cyber errands’ like booking tables in restaurants or arranging transportation – spookily talking about Siri and Alexa years before they were invented.

Perhaps wisely of all, Gerrold saw the problems of privacy that these devices would bring about.

Gerrold also predicted smartphones would bring about privacy issues (Rex)

He concluded that the device could be called the Personal Information Telecommunications Agent, or Pita – which he said could also stand for ‘Pain In The Ass’, because ‘having all that connectivity is going to destroy what’s left of everyone’s privacy’.

Smart man.