CAMPAIGNS: What The Media Say - PC party is a damp squib for the press

Organisation: IBM

Issue: 20th anniversary of the personal computer

The launch of the first personal computer by IBM two decades ago barely

rated a mention outside the technical publications. Twenty years on, the

anniversary of what proved to be a major watershed, once again did

little to stir the press.

Save for a handful of national media, it was left to the online news

services both sides of the Atlantic to give thanks for their own

existence and laud the coming of a phenomenon that transformed the way

people live and work.

But even as commentators waxed lyrical about the advent of the new

technological age, there was a glitch in the proceedings as the personal

computer market recorded its first-ever downturn in sales.

An 'unhappy birthday' announced US online newspaper

(9/8), while business journal (12/8) noticed the industry was

marking the anniversary '... with all the ballyhoo the boosters for a

battered industry can muster'.

Microsoft and Intel were excited about the occasion, hosting a joint

party, and Bill Gates garnered many column inches with his vision for

the next 20 years. On technology news site www.theregister. co. uk

(13/8), Keiren McCarthy dismissed his statements as 'puff' but, as in

the battle for industry supremacy, the two hi-tech suppliers were the

real winners.

The first personal computer might have been the baby of IBM - or Apple,

depending on your point of view - but Big Blue appeared to be taking

only a minor role in the celebrations. (9/8) suggested this marked its 'marginal presence in

the current PC market' and there was a scarcity of quotes from any IBM


Some commentators, however, had kind words about the one-time industry

leader, describing how the company had 'transformed itself from a clumsy

giant into a honed machine' (12/8).

As for what the future holds for the ubiquitous PC, the experts and

commentators had mixed predictions.

John Aldridge wrote in The Observer (12/8) that it would not be a case

of 'post PC but PC plus' while, at the other end of the spectrum, Ray

Kurtzweill, a US-based artificial intelligence evangelist, was quoted by (13/8) as saying: 'The desktop machine will be obsolete in

less than ten years'.

Analysis and commentary by Echo Research. More information can be found


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