Mark Dean, Chief Technology Officer of IBM's Middle East and Africa region, was one of the people who developed the IBM PC, released on August 12th, 1981. He's just shared his views on the current and future status of the personal computer.
It’s amazing to me to think that August 12 marks the 30th anniversary of the IBM Personal Computer.
IBM PC - original model (image courtesy of Wikipedia)
The announcement helped launch a phenomenon that changed the way we work, play and communicate. Little did we expect to create an industry that ultimately peaked at more than 300 million unit sales per year. I’m proud that I was one of a dozen IBM engineers who designed the first machine and was fortunate to have lead subsequent IBM PC designs through the 1980s. It may be odd for me to say this, but I’m also proud IBM decided to leave the personal computer business in 2005, selling our PC division to Lenovo. 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.
PCs are being replaced at the center of computing not by another type of device — though there’s plenty of excitement about smart phones and tablets — but by new ideas about the role that computing can play in progress. These days, it’s becoming clear that innovation flourishes best not on devices but in the social spaces between them, where people and ideas meet and interact. It is there that computing can have the most powerful impact on economy, society and people’s lives.
There's more at the link.
That report caused me more than a little nostalgia, as I can remember the launch of the IBM PC very well. I was working in information technology at the time, and used it within a month of its launch. I also worked on IBM's mainframe computers (as operator and programmer), and one of the forerunners to the PC, the Displaywriter dedicated word processor.
I'm very interested in the future of personal computing from a user perspective. I'm a writer, so I find it really important to have a good keyboard and word processing software - more so, probably, than other users. I don't think a tablet will work well for me - it doesn't have a keyboard (although, of course, one can be added via a Bluetooth or other wireless link). I've tried speech-to-text software, but it doesn't work well with my creative processes. I prefer to touch-type (I can hit 100 words per minute fairly easily), and to revise by keyboard and mouse while reading on a screen rather than issuing verbal commands while listening to playback of my text. However, I know many people don't need that sort of written-word-focused user interface. For them, a tablet (particularly with the developing capabilities of new operating systems for that genre of machine) may be a more intuitive choice. During her recent trip to Alaska, and her 4,000-mile flight home, Miss D. used an Android smartphone as her primary Internet interface. It seemed to work pretty well for her.
What say you, readers? What's your primary computing device right now? A PC? Notebook? Tablet? Smartphone or PDA? Let us know in Comments, as well as your thoughts about the direction in which your computer use is developing.