Happy 30th, PC!

August 12, 2011

Tech & Gadgets

Be prepared to feel a whole lot older: the PC officially turns 30 today.

Image via Boffy b

Image via Boffy b

Cast your memory back to an August 12th back in 1981, to the day the IBM 5150 was introduced. If you had the cash on hand, $1,565 to $6,000 ($4,000 to $15,000 today if you add inflation) could buy you a gray box with a monochrome phosphor monitor with a 4.77 MHz 8-to-16 bit Intel 8088 processor plus 64 kb of RAM, expandable to 256kb on a floppy drive. Practically a calculator by today’s hyper-mobile, hyper-fast standards, but it marked the personal computer revolution that would change the world forever.

Could we be witnessing the PC’s final days, though? Those closest to the old IBM computer development teams say that, with the advent of tablets and smartphones, the PC is probably on its last legs. After all, IBM sold its PC division to Lenovo recently as it made the switch to focusing on servers, hardware and software. As final insult to injury, Mark Dean, one of the lead engineers on hand for the birth of the PC and the holder of 3 of its 9 patents, said in a blog post recently,

“While many in the tech industry questioned IBM’s decision to exit the business at the time, it’s now clear that our company was in the vanguard of the post-PC era.

I, personally, have moved beyond the PC as well. My primary computer now is a tablet. When I helped design the PC, I didn’t think I’d live long enough to witness its decline. But, while PCs will continue to be much-used devices, they’re no longer at the leading edge of computing. They’re going the way of the vacuum tube, typewriter, vinyl records, CRT and incandescent light bulbs.”

So, the PC’s made it this far. As to whether it’ll make it another decade, that’s for the ever upward march of technological progress to decide.

Do you think the PC will still be a major part of home technology for years to come? Please share your thoughts here!

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