Monday, August 14, 2006

Happy birthday PC

Belated Happy Birthday Wishes to PC.. PC is turned 25 few days back..(Aug 11, 06)

PC introduced by IBM in 1981

IBM introduced the venerable PC on 8/11/1981, some 25 years back and changed the way we live and communicate. The PC and the humans have come a long way in the last 25 years. The first PC was priced around USD 1600 and came with a green screen Disk Operating System (DOS) from a company called startup Microsoft. There was no web or email then, why the PCs didn't even have a modem or a sound card.

Looking back, for the better part of my life, I have been associated with PC / Computers in some shape or fashion.. Here are some firsts in the Cheran's ஞயாபகம் வருதே style.

PC Contact (1983): I was first introduced to PC in 1983 when 8085 / 8088 were in vogue. I remember playing around with Basic and PC Assembler at that time.
My Own PC(1992): I bought my first PC in 1992. I bought it from my friend in DC, who was moonlighting in PC assembly at that time. I paid around USD 1800 for a machine with 64k (or 128?) memory and a color monitor, but no modem or external speakers.
Modem / email (1993): I first connected my PC to the outside world in 1993 through a 2.4 bps modem. I bought the modem to connect to OSU to access my email. I remember struggling with VI commands just to access my mail. The other motivation was to be able to read India news digest which used to be sent by a professor (Mr. Rao?) in Bowling Green State University.
Word Processing: Word Star (1983): It was the first user friendly software at that time. It had cool features that were accessible only through short cuts (combination key strokes) and I reveled in mastering them.
Spread Sheet: Visi Calc (1985) Again in the DOS days.
GUI OS - MS Windows 3.0 (1992): I learnt the 'three finger salute / ctrl-alt-delete' trick then, and it still comes handy even now.
Browser - Mozilla (1994): Used it access The Hindu news digest from OSU.
LapTop - IBM Thinkpad 720 (1996): It was a monochrome machine with OS2 on it.

Some things that have come and gone in the last 25..
Floppy Drive: Yeah, 3.5 inch floppies are still around but they are a relic of the past, I can't remember when I last used it. In fact, in the latest laptops, floppy drive has become an optional device. The first floppys were 11 inch in size and susceptible for easy corruption.
Modem: Again, this may still be around, but hasn't used it in a while. In the world of broadband, modem's may not be around for long.
Word Star / Word Perfect: WP was the market leader in the word processing market for quite some time. It has been wiped out of the map by MS Word. You may also add Lotus Word Pro to this list.
Visi Calc / Lotus 123: Lotus invented / popularized the spreadsheet segment but has tamely ceded it to MS Excel.
Borland Products: I used to like the usability aspect of Borland products. Does anyone know there whereabouts?
OS2: How many of you have even heard of it?

Just as the PC we know of today is radically different from the first one, the PC of 2016 will be different from today. Here is where you come in.. Take out your crystal ball and tell us what you see as the PC of 2016..

Here is what I see..
  1. Desk top would have given way to Lap Tops
  2. End user client OS will become irrelevant and there might not even be a need for it.
  3. Mobile devices would dominate and would be used to access Internet more than the PCs.
  4. Data would be centrally stored giving raise to lot of privacy issues.
  5. As Sun says.. Network will truly become the PC. We would go back to thin client / dumb terminals days but with a minor difference.. Now the terminals would be GUI & Audio enabled.
  6. Userid / Pwds will continue to proliferate and we would increasingly find it difficult to manage them.
  7. Internet would truly become pervasive and would be available in most places.
  8. Software pricing model will change from CLA / CPU based to usage/consumption based.
  9. You fill in the rest...


  1. The picture reminds me of the lab machine at work. It was heavy, occupied a lot of desk space and the cooling fan made a lot of noise compared to the latest machines. There would be strange noise while reading from the floppy and it was a nightmare to maintain the floppy. Better than the punch cards of course !!!!

    I did use Word Star to create reports and save it on the floppy. Would I consider using it now for reports ........ You guessed it.


  2. My 2 cents...
    Security for the data/information & computers may become common through biometric authentication like fingerprints than passwords alone.

  3. good one

  4. Mahadevan
    Is it? Never touched a PC in 81..

    Word Star.. Is it still around? May be in some software museum.. if there is one..

    Biometric is the great hope.. Let's see..

    Thanks for the list of events..