April 19, 2019

2007: Paper Computer Dream Dies With Kiwi Inventor

January 20, 2019

By Anarchist History of New Zealand

Paper Computers: We should have had them by now. You can even see the prototypes on Youtube.

Dr. Alan MacDiarmid was the chemist who was supposed to deliver. Became one of the 3 Nobel Prizes awarded to New Zealanders for his work on conductive polymers. That was back in 2000, long before we had our touchscreen smartphones of today, and he was building the phone Tony Stark uses in Iron Man 2!

Leaving Masterton and then New Zealand, MacDiarmid became a world leader in this science and technology. Around 2005 or so, after becoming a Laureate in 2000, things stepped up. Alan re-married and, from memory, it was about now that the science world and the media got excited about these plastic paper computers being just around the corner. Were they really? Or was it only a bubble created by MacDiarmid and his marketing machine to drum up some more funding?

It all came crashing down in 2007, be it a bubble or be it a reality that would have changed the world. The ailing 79yo fell down his own stairs and died. Whatever promise there was we lost along with him.

I’m inclined to think the work could have gone on without its poster boy if it were really a goer so the technology was a sham. But New Zealand will never own to its Emperor having No Clothes when he’s

(A) One of their own

(B) Celebrated with awards and achievements

(C) Dead

Ref. Historic South Island

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