To celebrate 25 years of the personal computer, the man behind the revolution, Michael Dell, said in an interview that his current home PC is a Dell Precision 690 with a two-socket system and two dual-core Woodcrest (Xeon 5100 processors). It’s got a port with 64MB of memory. Dell (the man, not the company) has two 30-inch monitors, with 8.2 million pixels of resolution. He calls it a ‘nice machine’. We’re sure it is, even if for many, the configuration may be Greek. And that is the beauty and the essence of the PC revolution. There’s now a PC for every requirement, however small or big. One needs to only articulate the need — the machine will fall into place. The mindboggling array of configurations, accessories and computing power on an astonishingly wide range of devices has made the PC integral to everyday life.
For post-PC generations, it comes as a bit of a surprise that it’s only been 25 years since the computer first entered homes. IBM’s first model in 1981 cost $ 1,565 (Rs 72,000). Today, at that price, a buyer has the world at his feet. The PC’s rapid and multidimensional growth is attributed largely to business practices at IBM. As Dell acknowledges, in giving up control over several key areas (the operating system was licensed to Microsoft, for instance), IBM succeeded in giving life to a multifaceted ecosystem of companies that went on to create the gamut of uses from applications to accessories to chipsets and add ons. The IBM PC ensured that the industry found a core standard on which evolution was patterned. Had this not happened, we’d probably have to junk the entire system with every new leap of technology — and upgrade wouldn’t have been a relevant term.
There are today a billion PCs in operation across the world. Sometimes cliches have to be used — the PC changed the way the world lived. Quantum leaps of progress were made in education, entertainment, medicine and business, at the very least. No one knew how things would turn out, especially not Michael Dell, who tinkered with his PC to create only homework shortcuts. If India laments its poor penetration, it has only itself to blame. There’s an awesome array of creative technology out there that makes access to technology just that bit better and cheaper with every innovation. To tap into the glory and progress that technology assures is, however, a factor of vision and will. It’s easy to take the PC for granted. And why not? Wizards in the business promise that this is just the beginning. The world awaits.