The personal computer blows out forty candles – News

The IBM PC was launched on August 12, 1981. The device was a success in businesses and living rooms. What made this machine the standard for computers?

The personal computer, unlike expensive and large business machines, was not invented by IBM. As early as 1977, Apple made a mass product with the Apple II, but Tandy, Commodore and others have also been developing small computers for the masses for several years (by then standards).

4.77 MHz

In the summer of 1981, IBM also introduced its own device, Model 5150, starting at $ 1,565. A marked difference from IBM’s cheapest business machine, which was priced around $ 10,000. For that amount, you then got the new Intel 8088 chip clocked at 4.77 megahertz with 16 to 64 kilobytes of RAM.

Where the IBM PC stood out from the competition was its open architecture, which allowed other gamers to develop hardware and software for the device. The computer was a commercial success, so much so that it became difficult to get one.

An IBM laptop model 5140 from 1987-1988. © Getty Images

clone

This combination gave rise to “clones”: third-party computers that released their own models with comparable components that were fully or as closely compatible as possible with the IBM PC and the software running on it. It took IBM a year to make the PC, but the first clones appeared barely a year later. This quickly led to IBM licensing software like MS-DOS to brands like Compaq that released their own PCs.

1984-1985 IBM PCjr Home Computer., Getty Images
IBM PCjr home computer from 1984-1985. © Getty Images

It ensured that in a few years, the PC became the most common computer in the home and in the workplace, combined with a market where different manufacturers developed hardware and software that also worked on devices from other brands. The term “PC compatible” became a selling point. A matter of course that we hardly think about today.

In 1987, the IBM Personal Computer was discontinued, but the PC as a concept continued to grow. Computers became more powerful and cheaper. MS-DOS provided by Microsoft (which Microsoft itself had taken over from another company) was supplemented with the Windows 1.0 graphical interface, which with each version was removed further from the underlying DOS interface, but above all, increased usability. This also made it possible for non-technologists to get started faster with a PC for word processing, games or other activities. Although the Internet already existed, it was still far from relevant to the average consumer in the early 1990s.

Faster, smaller, cheaper

As prices fell and hardware improved, the PC also underwent a number of developments. The box with a screen on top became thinner and more refined and eventually that box came to lie next to the screen, desktops as we know them today. There was also a laptop version: the laptop. They already existed before the IBM PC, but towards the end of the 1990s, that form factor also became affordable.

A laptop from HP and Compaq in 2002., Getty Images
A laptop from HP and Compaq in 2002. © Getty Images

Sales boomed. In 1996, about 70 million PCs * were sold worldwide. In 2006, there were 240 million a year. In the years that followed, the design of the devices would become even more diverse. Laptops became thinner, lighter and more powerful. For desktops, you can choose from hundreds of models, from budget-friendly living room PCs to powerful gaming devices.

And Lenovo Ideacenter Y900, and 2016 gaming PC, Getty Images
A Lenovo Ideacenter Y900, a gaming PC from 2016. © Getty Images

Manufacturers like Asus experimented with netbooks, lightweight and small laptops with high autonomy, the forerunner of today’s ultrabooks and 2-in1s. IBM even sold its laptops, known as ThinkPad point-and-shoot laptops, to Lenovo in 2005.

* The sales figures in this piece are primarily based on Gartner goals.

Asus was one of the first to introduce mini laptops or netbooks., Getty Images
Asus was one of the first to introduce mini laptops or netbooks. © Getty Images

The relapse

The market peaked around 2013, selling 352 million units a year. After that, sales began to falter. While most people still had a PC, it was no longer their only device for ‘personal computing’.

The launch of the iPhone and the first Android devices in 2007 and 2008, combined with tablets, made the PC obsolete. Wi-Fi and mobile data networks meant that everything we did on a PC until then, we could do elsewhere. This meant that those who already had a PC through work, or had an older device, were less likely to see the need to buy a new device of their own.

Today, the landscape seems to be changing again. In 2017-2019, sales had dropped to 260 million units a year, but the PC market is experiencing a revival due to the corona crisis. Working from home and homeschooling are creating more demand and it is not temporary. Lenovo, the largest PC maker in the world, expects demand to continue for another five years.

The heyday of the PC is over on its fortieth birthday, but the device is certainly not dead. The personal computer turned the computer into something for the masses, and even with new devices like the smartphone or voice assistants, the device continues to have a prominent place in our personal or professional lives. The term ‘PC’ may have quickly been separated from IBM, but the open architectural model has revolutionized our lives.

The personal computer, unlike expensive and large business machines, was not invented by IBM. As early as 1977, Apple made a mass product with the Apple II, but Tandy, Commodore and others have also been developing small computers for the masses for several years (by then standards) In the summer of 1981, IBM also introduced its own device. Model 5150, from $ 1,565. A marked difference from IBM’s cheapest business machine, which was priced around $ 10,000. For that amount, the new Intel 8088 chip clocked at 4.77 megahertz with 16 to 64 kilobytes of RAM. Where the IBM PC differed from the competition was its open architecture, which allowed other players to develop hardware and software. to the device. The computer was a commercial success, to the point that it became difficult to acquire one. That combination led to the emergence of “clones”: third-party computers that released their own models with comparable components that were fully or as good as possible. . were compatible with the IBM PC and the software running on it. It took IBM a year to make the PC, but the first clones appeared barely a year later. This quickly led IBM to decide to license software such as MS-DOS to brands such as Compaq, which released their own PCs. In a few years, the PC became the most common computer in the home and workplace, combined with a market, where different manufacturers developed hardware and software that also worked on devices from other brands. The term “PC compatible” became a selling point. A matter of course that we hardly think about today. In 1987, the IBM Personal Computer was discontinued, but the PC as a concept continued to grow. Computers became more powerful and cheaper. MS-DOS provided by Microsoft (which Microsoft itself had taken over from another company) was supplemented with the Windows 1.0 graphical interface, which with each version was removed further from the underlying DOS interface, but above all, increased usability. This also made it possible for non-technologists to get started faster with a PC for word processing, games or other activities. Although the Internet already existed, it was far from relevant to the average consumer in the early 1990s. As prices dropped and hardware improved, the PC also underwent a number of developments. The box with a screen on top became thinner and more refined and eventually that box came to lie next to the screen, desktops as we know them today. There was also a laptop version: the laptop. They already existed before the IBM PC, but towards the end of the 1990s, that form factor also became affordable. Sales boomed. In 1996, about 70 million PCs * were sold worldwide. In 2006, there were 240 million a year. In the years that followed, the design of the devices would become even more diverse. Laptops became thinner, lighter and more powerful. Desktops offered hundreds of models to choose from, from budget-friendly living room PCs to high-performance gaming devices. Manufacturers like Asus experimented with netbooks, lightweight and small laptops with high autonomy, the forerunner of today’s ultrabooks and 2-in1s. IBM itself sold its laptops, known as ThinkPad laptops, to Lenovo in 2005. * Sales figures in this piece are based primarily on Gartner metrics. The market peaked around 2013, when 352 million units were sold annually. . After that, sales began to falter. Although most still had a PC, it was no longer their only device for ‘personal computing’ The launch of the iPhone and the first Android devices in 2007 and 2008, combined with tablets, made the PC obsolete. Wi-Fi and mobile data networks meant that everything we did on a PC until then, we could do elsewhere. As a result, those who already had a PC through work, or had an older device, were less likely to see the need to buy a new device of their own. Today, the landscape seems to be changing again. In 2017-2019, sales had dropped to 260 million units a year, but the PC market is experiencing a revival due to the corona crisis. Working from home and homeschooling are creating more demand and it is not temporary. Lenovo, the largest PC maker in the world, expects demand to continue for another five years. The heyday of the PC is over on its fortieth birthday, but the device is certainly not dead. The personal computer turned the computer into something for the masses, and even with new devices like the smartphone or voice assistants, the device continues to have a prominent place in our personal or professional lives. The term ‘PC’ may have quickly been separated from IBM, but the open architectural model has revolutionized our lives.

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