FEATURE: IBM marks PC's 30th anniversary by hailing post-PC future
Aug 11, 2011 (dpa - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
SAN FRANCISCO -- Thirty years after IBM first introduced its personal computer, one of the designers of that landmark machine has marked its anniversary by declaring the twilight of the PC era.
Mark Dean, IBM's chief technology officer for the Middle East and Africa, said in a blog posting that personal computers were "going the way of the vacuum tube, typewriter, vinyl records, CRT and incandescent light bulbs," as consumers moved on to tablets, phones and other internet-connected devices.
His blog was posted to mark the 30th anniversary of the IBM 5150 personal computer, which debuted on August 12, 1981. It was preceded by computers including the Apple II and Commodore PET, but the combination of IBM's reach with Microsoft's MS-DOS operating system is widely seen as marking the start of popular computing.
"Little did we expect to create an industry that ultimately peaked at more than 300 million unit sales per year," Dean said.
The company had foreseen the decline of the business, he pointed out, and IBM sold its PC business to China's Lenovo in 2005: "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."
Dean, who confessed that his primary computer is now a tablet, said he was surprised by the demise of the PC.
"When I helped design the PC, I didn't think I'd live long enough to witness its decline," he said. "But, while PCs will continue to be much-used devices, they're no longer at the leading edge of computing."
Microsoft rode the PC wave to technology pre-eminence, as its software, in the long run, proved vastly more lucrative than the hardware it ran on.
Frank X Shaw, Microsoft's vice president of corporate communications, wrote in a blog to mark the anniversary that the PC era had evolved into the PC-plus era, given that more than 400 million PCs will be sold worldwide this year.
"Some time ago, we extended our ambitions beyond the PC ... to the Web and to screens that fit in your pocket, your backpack and your living room," he said. "In some cases we build our own hardware (Xbox, Kinect), while in most other cases we work with hardware partners on PCs, phones and other devices to ensure a great end-to-end experience that optimizes the combination of hardware and software."
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