August 12, 2011
30 Years of PCs
Today is the 30th anniversary of the IBM PC. And this is probably the first year a PC with a MS operating systems is not for given any more.
Just a very short post as a reminder that today is the 30th anniversary of the IBM PC. I've never used the original (had a ZX Spectrum back than) but bought a fantastic Olivetti M24 soon afterwards. That was my first PC. There is a nice article with the story at www.reghardware.com/2011/08/12/ibm_pc_30_anniversary/ (from which I've shamelessly taken the image below). There are of course hundreds of articles on the topics published today, but I though it was still worth adding a link.
While this has been a very significant milestone, 2011 is probably also the first year a PC with a MS operating systems is not for given any more. There are more Android system being sold than traditional PCs. The world is changing more rapidly I could envision a few years back, with IBM long gone from the PC business and Microsoft not shining. It's Apple and Google these days, and it is interesting to notice that while Google is the new kid to the block, Apple was there before the PC and with the fact its Apple II was used by business companies was likely a key factor behind IBM original decision. But, of course, Apple is much more than a PC company these days.
30 Years of PCs
Wow that is just like the first IBM PC I used - it was
purchased for my Mom's real estate business. If I
remember right, with *dual* 5 1/4 floppies (no
slumming with just a single floppy), the dot matrix
printer and some software, the cost was over $5000 US!
Of course, my personal first computer was an Ohio
Scientific C4P - a 6502 with a case top made of folded
sheet metal and the sides made of solid wood. A great
little computer but without a storage device (couldn't
afford the floppy) I had to hand type in a program
each time I turned it on :-(. Now a days my computers
are 50/50, 2 Windows computers, and two non Windows
(Mac and iOS), each of which has more horse power than
probably my first 4 computers combined, even the iPhone.
In the business world in 1981 Apple II was a niche
product. They were very expensive and very rare and so
was also the IBM PC that was introduced today 30 years
However there were many different systems based on
Zilog Z80 and Intel 8080 CPUs running CP/M 80 from
Digital Research made by Gary Kindall.
When IBM went looking for an OS, one of the options
was to do business with Digital Research and use a
CP/M 86 version. Microsoft won that deal, but CP/M 86
became available as a later alternative, but it never
30 Years of PCs
Don't know about the future of operating systems, I
won't count MS out yet, but the days of having a
large PC under your desk are numbered for most
people. Gamers and certain professions that need the
fastest computer they can get their grips on will
continue for some time of course but regular folk and
business people don't want those boat anchors any
longer. Mobile computing is definitely the future,
whatever the OS may be.
Hold your horses...
OK, somebody needs to temper all this happiness about
the great advances in technology. I guess I'll step in
to do just that :)
The fact that mobile devices are now all mainstream
is great news for moms, useless teenagers, and pointy
haired bosses. They can now do their n00b stuff on
increasingly tinier, shinier and cheaper devices than
Most users hang out on Facebook 90% of the time, so
they're better off with low-end devices. They'd never
really use the full potential of the average PC
People who claim to have happily "switched" from a
desktop pc to something like an iPad belong to that
90% who were never really hardcore users.
If you need to get real work done as a programmer, you
NEED a decent keyboard, a mouse, at least one big
monitor that can handle high resolutions, and a proper
desk with a chair. Admitted, it's not as hip as
lounging on your designer couch with your latest Apple
device, but it's definitely more productive.
PC's are not going to disappear entirely any time
soon, but their prices will go up if the masses buy
lower-end devices instead.
Therefore, as a programmer, I wouldn't cheer too loud
about mobile devices replacing the tool that you need
to get your shit done.
Fundamental changes are needed before mobile devices
can make me more productive than even the average 10-
year old desktop pc.
Think about this for example: which mobile device
allows you to create more powerful applications, or
let you do it faster than a pentiumIII+W2K+Delphi3
can? Nothing that I know of even comes close.
Is the PC dead? No. But someone would like to murder it.
At the URL above you can read why so many are singing
about the "PC death". Someone would make more money
if he could replace "open" devices like PCs
with "closed" devices like tablets - even Android
ones. IBM let the genius out of the bottle because
that was not a strategic product in their minds then.
But now many companies would like to regain the
control IBM had then in the computer market, and the
PC had broken. The tablet and mobiles are the trojan
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