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 the-telegraph.com
(9/8), while business journal forbes.com (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
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.
The-telegraph.com (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' www.silicon.com (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
silicon.com (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