= V =
vannevar /van'*-var/ n.
A bogus technological prediction
or a foredoomed engineering concept, esp. one that fails by
implicitly assuming that technologies develop linearly,
incrementally, and in isolation from one another when in fact the
learning curve tends to be highly nonlinear, revolutions are
common, and competition is the rule. The prototype was Vannevar
Bush's prediction of `electronic brains' the size of the Empire
State Building with a Niagara-Falls-equivalent cooling system for
their tubes and relays, a prediction made at a time when the
semiconductor effect had already been demonstrated. Other famous
vannevars have included magnetic-bubble memory, LISP machines,
videotex, and a paper from the late 1970s that computed a
purported ultimate limit on areal density for ICs that was in fact
less than the routine densities of 5 years later.
--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.