Celebrating the IBM PC’s 30th Birthday
I joined Creative Strategies the year that the IBM PC was introduced. In those days Business International owned Creative Strategies and IBM was one of their major clients. Business International is a WW global econometric consulting firm and IBM used them often to help them open new IBM offices around the world. And Creative Strategies was their technology-consulting arm so we were often drawn into these types of projects to help on technology related issues.
A side note to this is that the first time I had to visit the Business International Offices in NYC, not far from the UN, I met a black intern who was working there during the summer while he was in law school. I did not know it at the time, but the intern was Barack Obama who, as you know, has gone on to become the most powerful man in the world.
But I joined Creative Strategies at a most interesting and fortuitous time in my career as well as history. In those days, the world of computing was dominated by mainframes and mini-computers and at the time, that was the focus of Creative Strategies research and consulting. But with the introduction of the Apple II and release of the IBM PC in 1981, the company had decided to add PC’s to their research focus. And although I was working in the company’s marketing group at the time, with my background in semiconductors, I was asked to lead their first PC analysis group and in a sense and by default, became Creative Strategies first PC analyst.
And in a wonderful quirk of fate, my first outside project was with IBM’s PC group. Not long after the PC was launched IBM asked us to help them with their retail and consumer strategy. As a result, I got to work with Don Estridge’s team as they charted their future strategy for the IBM PC and got to see the evolution of the IBM PC from the inside.
Now, 30 years later, all of the people who were part of those early days of the PC and have watched the impact of the PC on business, education and consumers are marveling at the impact this product has had. It has changed the way we work, learn and play and has democratized information. And while we are entering the Post PC era, it is important to remember that the PC is not going away. It will continue to be an important tool in business and education and be at the heart of productivity based computing. In fact, we will continue to sell around 400 million PC’s a year for at least the next 5-7 years and while it may not be as sexy as tablets and smartphones, it will continue to be the workhorse for serious productivity.
For me, the PC has been at the center of my personal and business life for three decades now and I can’t imagine what life would be like without it. It has helped shape and define my career as well serve as an important tool for my own personal productivity, education and entertainment. And it has provided the livelihood and fortunes for millions of people who are involved with the PC industry and continues to be an important source for innovation in the Internet age.
There have been some wonderful retrospectives on the PC written by many colleagues and I list some of the one’s worth sharing below..
From Mashable- IBM PC History
From PC Magazine- a timeline- PC History Timeline