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For example can I say, "Working for Apple in the 1980s, surrounded by innovation, it felt as though I was on the precipice of computer technology"?

I would like to find a good word here to replace the horribly clichéd cutting edge.

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8 Answers 8

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Precipice is not really the word you are looking for.

You could use in the vanguard or at the forefront but perhaps even they are clichés.

More at thesaurus.com

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A precipice is a cliff. If you say, "We stood at a precipice", the usual implication is that you were in danger of falling off.

The common phrase for the idea I think you are looking for is "cutting edge", as in, "Our company is on the cutting edge of toaster technology". Some say "leading edge". (For a while people thought it was cute to say "bleeding edge", I think combining the idea of leading edge and cutting causes bleeding, but that appears to have mostly died out.) As Andrew Leach notes, "vanguard" is another common term, though I think a little out of date.

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  • "Bleeding Edge" has an additional connotation of being risky, unstable, or potentially more costly to implement than is justified that isn't inherent to the others, I would say.
    – Lawton
    Jun 11, 2014 at 20:50
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Working for Apple in the 1980s, surrounded by innovation, it felt as though I was witnessing groundbreaking computer technology

groundbreaking breaking new ground; innovative; pioneering

"Working for Apple in the 1980s, surrounded by innovation, it felt as though we were about to make history in computer technology"

make history; to do something very important, especially to be the first to do something that will be remembered for a long time. The Wright brothers made history when they were the first to fly an aeroplane.

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You could say you felt quite Avant-garde meaning forward-looking or innovative.

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    Note that avant-garde is normally understood to mean "unconventional", i.e. attempting to lead in a new direction rather than being at the front of the pack.
    – Jay
    Jul 19, 2012 at 15:24
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Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English

very steep or vertical face of a cliff, mountain or rock : (fig )

  • The country's economy was on the edge of the precipice, ie in danger of collapsing.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English

a dangerous situation in which something very bad could happen

  • The stock market is on the edge of a precipice .

If OP takes the time and trouble to consult some dictionaries, it might become quite clear that , precipice often metaphorically describes something which is dangerous and causes disastrous consequences, and by no means suits the the occasion where the state-of-art computer technology would benefit all humans.

Besides in the vanguard or at the forefront, which I think are perfect, I recommend pioneer with one of the definitions in OALD.

person who is the first to study a new area of knowledge

e.g. They were pioneers in the field of microsurgery.

You could say:

"Working for Apple in the 1980s, surrounded by innovation, it felt as though I was among the pioneers of state-of-the-art computer technology"

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I think the following sentence (with edge :) correctly describes your feeling:

I was on the edge of computer science innovation.
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  • I think on the edge of (and the more common on the brink of) normally precede some narrowly-avoided negative outcome, not some positive, onging activity. Jul 19, 2012 at 11:42
  • @FumbleFingers Try on the cutting edge of.
    – tchrist
    Aug 19, 2012 at 2:36
  • @tchrist: OP specifically said he wanted "to replace the horribly clichéd cutting edge." Aug 19, 2012 at 2:43
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    @FumbleFingers Sometimes I really hate being a peephole optimizer.
    – tchrist
    Aug 19, 2012 at 3:01
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You could replace the horrible cliché with the arguably more horrible jargon bleeding edge, a slightly intensified version of cutting edge.

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I feel like the replies are really getting away from the original question here. I looked this up because I has thinking the same thing and I think it's right... so if the precipice is the edge of a hill or a cliff then that's the highest point, right? When we use the phrase "at the precipice of __ ", we are describing the subject as the highest point, or peak. Like when you tag someone in a mean and say "[this is] the precipice of meme" or "at the precipice of meme", you are implying you have reached the peak of meme.

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