Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What IS a "PC" Anyway?

I've been thinking about PCs lately (as in "Personal Computers" not "Politically Correct"). When us old timers think of a "PC" we generally think of that first IBM PC or the Apple II - with the glowing green screen, and a hip, cool user interface called DOS.

I bet if you asked my kids what "PC" means - they would say "Politically Correct" (hopefully). To them, there is no concept of a "personal" computer because they grew up in a world where all computers are "personal." In their limited experience these computing devices are the default:

  1. A computer (or two) in your house
  2. A mobile telephone ("but my phone sucks - I need a smartphone")
  3. A tablet
  4. An e-reader
  5. A XBOX 360 (or Wii)
  6. A handheld (non-phone) gaming platform
  7. Video screen in the car
  8. Streaming custom radio station based on your music preferences (e.g. Pandora, Spotify)

We of the older generation didn't have any of these things growing up. Here's our list:

  1. A rock
  2. A cardboard box
  3. Duct Tape
  4. 5 Hot Wheels cars
  5. Hammer and nails
  6. Firecrackers (or some other equally dangerous explosives)
  7. Pong (if you were LUCKY!)
  8. 8 track tapes - and then cassettes (if you were a 1%er back then)

When "personal" computers came out - it was a revolutionary concept. "A computer in every home" was such a far-fetched idea that it simply boggled the imagination.

Once the PC came out - there was a "war." The war between operating systems that has raged for 20+ years. Microsoft became the dominant player - because they were first with some business applications that went along with the hardware that IBM was selling into businesses.

Apple was trying (sort of) to do the same thing - but they focused less on business and more on education and the hobbyist. The techie. The artistic nerds.

And so the battle "raged" on (not really - because Apple only had 3% to 5% of the worldwide market, anyway). There are passionate "Windows" guys, and passionate "Mac" aficionados - and even a small sect of Linux lovers.

Then, came the iPhone. The paradigm of what computing "should be" and "could be" changed. Forever. A phone with no buttons. A phone that was a slab of glass. A phone that could surf the web. A phone that could contain "apps" that would amuse/help/inform/guide/save-your-sorry-lost-butt... a phone that would (later) include FaceTime video conferencing (hello, Jetsons!)...

Then, came the Android phone.

Then came the iPad.

Then came the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the Amazon Kindle Fire.

Then came the end of the "personal computer."

What's coming next?

There's talk of a Facebook phone running a modified version of Android (yes, a Facebook Operating System... *groan* ) so you could obsessively update your status 24/7. There are already 5 variants of tablets coming in the next quarter - and desktop computer sales have fallen off considerably. Mac OS X for non-phone, non-tablet computers has been re-vamped to include features from the iOS version. Microsoft is jonesing to get their Windows 7 Phone platform going with Nokia.

There are free applications for personal music, personal text messaging, group text chat, group video chat. We can Linkedin our Tublr Facebook Twitter stream with our Flickr YouTube Picasa stream to broadcast our lives in realtime.

We have phones with 5-10 megapixel cameras. That also do VIDEO. That we can upload LIVE at the event!

We can buy books, movies, TV shows with a single click from our phone then watch them on our TV at home - or on our laptop on an airplane.

Yes, the term "PC" ("Personal Computing") is as dead as Flash. Information is becoming a a commodity - sharing our pictures, where we are, what we "like" and what we stand for in a live 24 hour per day, 7 day per week stream - now that is personal computing.

1 comment:

Jason said...

You forget the iPod....the revolutionary musical device kept Apple from going bankrupt...that was before iPhone.

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