If you haven't played with an iPad or other tablet computer yet, it's tough to appreciate just how much computer power has gone from machines that took up multiple rooms in academic buildings, to bulky desktops in corporations, to machines that sat on our desks at home to computers that now fit in our laps, hands and pockets. But technology that doesn't seem widely applicable at first often just needs time.
The personal computer is a great example. The first computers were huge bulky machines, but in 1977, a group of technological innovators got together and built the first widely available computers that were suitably sized and powerful enough for consumers to use at home: the Apple II.
Most people today would say that the Apple II is a pretty pitiful machine. By today's standards, the graphics were clunky, the processor was slow and it could only handle a limited amount of data. But the DNA in the Apple II grew into the technology that powers today's iPhones, iPads and iPods. Even if you're not an Apple fan, the idea that computers could be affordable and easy to use helped launch the PC revolution, contributing to the Windows operating system you might be running now and your Android-powered phone. If there's one thing technological exploration has shown it's that something that seems like a toy, such as a home computer, or listening into Sputnik can become something that changes the world – if you give it enough time.