What is the 'future digital wallet' that Bill Gates envisioned in 1996?


Niall Kennedy

Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft and the creator of Windows, wrote in 1996 the column 'THE DIGITAL WALLET OF THE FUTURE' about the appearance of a handheld PC called 'wallet PC ', which is the forerunner of modern smartphones. (Future Digital Wallet) ”.

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The wallet PC proposed by Gates in 1996 is 'a pager- sized computer equipped with a color screen similar to that of a general photographic film', such as money, keys, ID cards, credit cards, tickets, etc. It is defined as a substitute for many necessities that you carry around with you. 'Wallet PCs provide mobile information and communications such as watches, newspapers, other reading materials, address books and books, photographs, calculators, cell phones, pagers, etc.,' Gates said.

'Lost or stolen a wallet is never a happy experience. However, it is expected that the' wallet PC 'will appear and become widespread by the next decade. Just because you lost the wallet itself You don't necessarily lose everything in your wallet, 'Gates said. The advantage of a wallet PC is that it contains only digital information that can be obtained from another location, so you can easily replace almost anything from money to photos. Therefore, Gates thinks that the wallet PC itself will be cheap, and predicted that the price of the wallet PC will be several hundred dollars (about tens of thousands of yen), which is 'the price of a good camera'.

In addition, 'the wallet PC does not have a keyboard and can understand voice and handwritten commands.' 'The signal from the Global Positioning System (GPS) allows you to check your position anywhere on the earth.' 'I want to go home. Whether you want to know the location of the nearest public toilet, your wallet PC will give you directions to your destination, 'Gates' conjecture is made possible by modern smartphones.

In addition, Gates said, 'Money that can be used on a wallet PC is processed digitally instead of banknotes and coins.' 'The wallet PC works with the computer in the store, allowing money to be exchanged without having to exchange money at the cash register.' We also predict electronic money in modern times. 'Banknotes are highly anonymous, bearer financial products. If the banknotes don't have a stamp or serial number, someone can steal cash and use it freely, but digital money is safer and anonymous. It doesn't have to be. If someone sends non-anonymous digital money, you'll know where it was sent. '

Gates also points out that there are security concerns about wallet PCs that can store all personal information and exchange money, and expect that biometrics by fingerprints and voice will be required. Modern smartphones can be locked by fingerprint or face recognition, and multi-factor authentication by biometric authentication is becoming commonplace.

'Microsoft is developing software for a new generation of mobile devices that will pioneer the ideal wallet PC,' Gates said. Also, Gates said that one year before writing the column, that is, in 1995, Microsoft and hardware partners were prototyping a machine that would realize this wallet PC, but the cost of hardware is very high. He also revealed that he stopped development because the software was not good enough.

In November 1996, when Gates published this column, Microsoft announced 'Windows CE' as an OS for handheld PCs.

in Note, Posted by log1i_yk