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back to article IBM PC daddy: 'The PC era is over'

One of the dozen engineers who designed the original IBM PC, which celebrates its 30th anniversary on Friday, says that the reign of the personal computer is coming to an end. "They're going the way of the vacuum tube, typewriter, vinyl records, CRT and incandescent light bulbs," writes IBM's Middle East and Africa CTO Mark Dean …

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Facepalm

IBM - I've Been Marginalized

Nothing on Mr. Dean, I'm sure he is a clever fellow.

IBM has been losing relevance since upper management started the process of swinging the ax and writing themselves bonus checks.

Who knows, perhaps shared systems will come back into vogue and they will be able to sell AS400/big iron again.

But typically and as Mr. Dean has said they will extricate themselves from this commodity market and give it over to a competitor or make their own as they did with Lenovo.

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I think I've heard this one before

Guess I'd better put my PC in the bin with all that paper I don't use anymore...

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Pint

I'm going in, I could be some time...

@"I'd better put my PC in the bin with all that paper I don't use anymore"

Tell me where you live, because I feel the urge to practice the ancient art of dumpster diving. ;) ... I could do with another PC. :)

Its recycling after all, so good for everyone and the environment. :)

Cheers icon for the free gift and Happy Birthday PC!

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Megaphone

Read the blog first

He is not saying the PC is dead, he says that "while PCs will continue to be much-used devices, they’re no longer at the leading edge of computing"

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Anonymous Coward

So how many of these 80 something posts have been sent from a tablet?

QED

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Devil

Even better!

> He is not saying the PC is dead, he says that

> "while PCs will continue to be much-used

> devices, they’re no longer at the leading edge

> of computing"

That's even funnier and more pathetic.

Someone who does or has worked for IBM should really know better.

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Anonymous Coward

Or...

Or, as my mum says "Question Easily Done"

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Bronze badge

PC is dead because their revenue stream died long ago

Of course the PC is dead! How much of a revenue stream was it for IBM in the first place? It was copied not long after its release, and finally after losing money on it they sold it to Lenovo. The fact of the matter is that most people who interact with a PC only use a bare fraction of its functionality. Who needs a keyboard when you only want to watch a movie and browse the web?

If Mark Dean was still *designing* hardware, then of course a tablet *wouldn't* be his primary device. Why, he'd need something with a keyboard, decent display, and a mouse! He's now an executive, so now he just needs to read a few things and have a secretary type something for him.

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An IPad is still a PC.

PC just means Personal Computer. Its yours you can do with it what you want, it can compute.

Tadaaaaa: It's a PC.

Just because it doesn't have a keyboard and mouse (by default) doesn't make it something else all of a sudden.

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Gold badge

PeeCee

They mean the desktop era. Having a big dusty box with fans that takes minutes to boot.

Having big whirring discs, lots of expansion ports and wires everywhere.

Even though the term PC means personal computer it is synonymous with Wintel.

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Linux

...a tad premature

Anything that can fully replace the PC will look an awful lot like one.

Although the really bit problem with this declaration is the fact that most Post PC devices are still entirely dependent on conventional old school PCs. Either they are tethered to a real PC or they need the computing power of a real PC to help deal with certain limitations.

It doesn't look like the PC is going anywhere any time soon. It still needs to linger in order to make things like Apple and Android tablets useful.

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In that case

an iPad is NOT a PC...it does what Steve wants it to do.

A tablet from anothe company, however...

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Devil

A tablet from another company

isn't available anymore since megalomaniApple are in the process of suing anyone who makes flat rectangular objects out of business.

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WTF?

Weell, on that basis…

You can't always define everything by the literal translation of a term, otherwise a blue ray disc would also be a DVD (digital versatile/video disc), or you could call an iPhone an MP3 player, because it does play MP3s!

And a Mac is also a PC… You get the gist. Many terms carry a meaning way beyond the plain and literal meaning of the words it consists of.

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@arglborps

A Mac most definitely is a PC and only shit-for-brains marketroids will have it otherwise. Well, them or the clueless people brainwashed by stupid advertising to think that a personal computer is either a Mac or a PC -- a PC being "Something what runs Windows.".

PC stands for Personal Computer and has been pretty much defined as "A computer designed to be used directly by an individual, usually small enough that each person can have their own." since they emerged. Examples include, but are not limited to, the Sinclair Spectrum, the Commodore Pet and the IBM PC/AT.

By that definition an iPad probably is a PC, as is your phone, and there is nothing wrong with broadening the definition to include them. After all, this is about "the traditional PC" being replaced.

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What was that computer Apple released called again?

A Power....BD? EV? DT?

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Coat

PC

If you were there at the time, you will remember that 'PC' started as meaning the IBM PC (other people didn't call their machines Personal Computers, with capitals, much before that), and then was extended to machines compatible with IBM PCs, i.e. having a BIOS which would work with IBM's open hardware architecture. These rapidly dominated the market, squeezing such things as Amigas to the very margins. Now lots of people don't remember that there was ever an alternative evolutionary path, see Cambrian Explosion, passim.

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Unhappy

-1

Am I the only one who gets decidedly dis-chuffed when people keep claiming that this or that is 'over'. WTF! Are they time travellers or something?

P.S.

If memory serves me correctly, they are usually wrong.

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Stop

wrong predictions

let me see...

phonograph was the end of musicians

radio was the second end of musicians (RIAA still didn't learn their lesson)

television was the end of radio

computers were the end of paper documents

Internet was the end of paper news

laptops were the end of desktops

consoles were the end of gaming PC

and now iFads are the end of PCs

I too see a pattern here...

even tape and CDs didn't kill vinyl, though CDs did kill audio tape, the data tape is still strong

transistors didn't kill vacuum lamps

nearly all past technologies that were in common use find a niche in which they excel to this day

IMHO, at worst the number of PCs will stagnate for a while, but it will pick up again, I just don't see all people putting their only copy of family pictures or videos to cloud

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Anonymous Coward

But video...

...did kill the radio star.

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Anonymous Coward

vid. v aud.

I think you're right in that single videos killed the concept of making an entire decent album. I think Sinbad had an amusing take on how 8 tracks forced musicians to put some effort into their work and that cd's made it all to easy to skip to the one song that was worth listening to (i.e. popular).

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The same IBM

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."

Thomas Watson, president of IBM, 1943

And produced a confidential report for <redacted bank name> stating that <redacted country name> would have a requirement for only 3 ATMs. That same bank now has several branches that have more than 3 ATMs each

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Pint

30 years is a generation

It was a good run. You did well, PC. Now it's time for a party and a gold watch to remember us by. Head down the to tav and take up corner stool and you can wow the crowd with tales of how things used to be.

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Trollface

Sir

Ok, I'll start - here's how it used to be..

There I was, watching some TV (on my PC) whilst checking the Reg, and keeping an eye on my email.

In the background I have a linux distro downloading and I'm ripping some of my films with AnyDVD, then I'm using DVD shrink to convert them to single VOB files and transferring some I did earlier off to my NAS drive.

That was how it used to be, about 10 seconds ago.

I suppose in 10 seconds time (i.e. the future) I will be able to close down whatever email app I'm using on my fondleslab to play a game, then shut that down in order to watch a movie, then shut that down to make sure I'm up to date with my email/IRC chats. It must feel like the future, living in the future like you do.

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Be fair

You can have background tasks on most tablets and phones these days, though why anyone would want to use such a limited device as a general purpose computer is beyond me.

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Pint

Re: Sir

"... close down whatever email app I'm using on my fondleslab to play a game..."

Clearly your fondleslab runs DOS 2.x. Ah, the circle of life. The only difference is AT&T drops my 3.14159G connection just often enough to accurately simulate my old 14.4kbaud modem. (sniff) It's just like the good old days.

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Sir

Mea culpa, I didn't realise that they were all now multi-tasking.

I'm not knocking them, I just get fed up with people who consign something to the bin of history because they are no longer using them.

Just because I eat with my fingers, doesn't mean the knife and fork have become obsolete now does it? Every tool has it's purpose, as I'm sure these slabs do. They just aren't a replacement for a workhorse PC that does video editing and massive file transfers etc.

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Anonymous Coward

You eat with your fingers...

...and claim to be *SIR* Runcible Spoon?

Renounce the honour immediately!

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Sir

"Renounce the honour immediately!"

Never!

If eating with your fingers was good enough for King Richard the Lionheart, it's good enough for me.

I fart as well you know - great big trumpeting blow-offs that scare the hounds! What jolly japes.

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Anonymous Coward

Just

because your computer is small and wrapped in a shiny skin doesn't mean it isn't a computer. Especially since the smallness and shinyness make them ever more personal than the original versions ever were.

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IT Angle

I'm sick of this really

And it is getting us nowhere.

Computers are essentially the same things as they were when this chap cobbled together some spare parts at IBM to compete on a market they (IBM) had no interest on (That's why the original PC's were so crappy BTW)

Now if you tell me that because of advancements in miniaturization, reduction of costs and better software, regular people with no interest in computing as a science or as a profession will use computerized appliances to get news or watch media, that's ok for me.

But please, stop this nonsense about the death of the PC this, decline of the PC that it's getting tiresome now.

PC's are not going anywhere, they're multiplying in shape and form, and what my daughter (6yr old) is asking for Christmas is a bloody PC like the one I have in my desk.

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Pint

Not so crappy after all.

>>Computers are essentially the same things as they were when this chap cobbled together some spare parts at IBM to compete on a market they (IBM) had no interest on (That's why the original PC's were so crappy BTW)<<

The desktop systems that were built around custom hardware with limited expansion options are all dead.

Exit the Atari. The Amiga.

Exit the PPC Mac. Enter the x86 Hackintosh.

The IBM PC began as an affordable stand-alone office workhorse with a serviceable 16 bit CP/M clone in PC-DOs that sold for $40.

CP/M 86 would have set you back $240. $586, adjusted for inflation. The MS-DOS PC was a commercially viable product before the cloning of the IBM PC BIOS.

MBASIC. MS COBOL. FORTRAN. Assembler. The programmer had a full suite of development tools available from Day 1.

Enhanced functionality is no further away than a plug-in card or chip. External 80 column display. External, built-like-a-tank, IBM keyboard.

The form factor couldn't be bettered. The upgrade path from the 8-bit PC and CP/M couldn't have been made easier or cheaper.

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Entry level

"to compete on a market they (IBM) had no interest on"

However, always remeber that the orginal IBM PCs were sold by IBMs entry level system sales division.

"PC not powerful for sir's needs? would sir care to purchase an AS400 instead?"

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Thumb Down

Have not seen a tablet yet...

That can run L.A. Noire, Crysis or let me do intense database runs. The PC is here for a while. Well, unless you want a tablet that weighs 4 kilo's.

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Doesn't have to

Ahh, but most PCs don't do intense database runs, that's a server workload.

Most PCs aren't running LA Noire, that would be a console. (AFAIK it's not even available for the PC). Even Crysis was available for consoles, and is a case-study in why consoles are better for gaming then PCs (hardware predictability).

The tablet is your "window" into the resources of a more powerful system. We have been moving that way for a while. Whether that is a good model for most of what we do, is another question entirely.

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not wanting to get all technical

but that was exactly what use cases were designed for.

a writer will, primarily, want to create and format text, do some research, maybe move about for 'inspiration' ie they want a reliable machine with a good keyboard, probably a laptop.

a graphic designer will want a good display, input choices and a good display. likely a desktop machine with lots of processor grunt, a very large, high end display and graphics tablet, possibly combined. so a desktop based system

a gamer will want a machine with lots of grunt, processor and graphics, high memory, low response times, good display. They will want a desktop or very high end laptop, serious gamers want a desktop.

a developer will want lots of memory, good keyboard, good processor, possibly graphics, depending on what they develop. high end laptop or desktop.

If, however, all you want to do is faff about on twitter and facebook, watch youtube, browse the net, send the odd email, play angry birds. Then yes a tablet is ideal.

if you think you may want to do a bit more, possibly write something more substantial than a paragraph, create a few basic graphics, do some calculations with a spreadsheet. Then you need a bog standard pc as well as your tablet.

alternatively, you could always have a tablet, with a stand, and add on keyboard, with external memory/disk... but that would just be silly, especially when there are better tools designed specifically for those scenarios.

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@ Oninoshiko

"and is a case-study in why consoles are better for gaming then PCs (hardware predictability)"

That predictability also implies that the graphics quality you get in a console is always below that of a middle-range PC graphics card. Ditto for processing power, that plays an important part in most modern games. And don't get me started on console controllers. For a vast majority of games, a keyboard+mouse beats any console control pad.

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Mushroom

Games.

Crysis doesn't run on consoles. Crysis 2 and Far Cry 2 did and they're both kinda crappy. LA Noir will be out on PC in Q3 because they're actually giving it proper textures a la GTA 4. Not that it matters because everybody will be playing BF3 by then.

Back on topic my PC is going nowhere, for work, gaming and personal reasons.

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Paris Hilton

@Oninoshiko

"Ahh, but most PCs don't do intense database runs, that's a server workload."

Nowadays, yes, back when you were in nappies/diapers no.

I can remember looking a Wang PC many many years ago that came with an application coded in Bill (I'll never make operating systems) Gates first version of basic.

If the tablet is just a "window" into the resources of a more powerful system are you saying you need a tablet AND a PC?????

QED (quod erat demonstrandum)

Paris, the other meaning of QED

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Bronze badge

Crysis 2 on PC (and PC gaming in general)

Also Crysis 2 on PC was updated to run in DX11 mode (far more advance than any current console), and had a free high quality downloadable texture pack (1.7GB), which has much better textures than the console version.

Currently I run at 1080P (1920 x 1080) with DX11, the texture pack, and all settings on Ultra.

The game looks astounding. A comparison with the console version, and the XBox version looks like it's running on a budget laptop with a mobile GFX card.

Also console controls will never beat keyboard and Mouse in an FPS (in a 3rd person game, yes sometimes console control is better, but never 1st person).

Also, I have nVidia 3D vision, and can still run with Ultra details when in stereoscopic mode :-)

Basically current consoles = mid range PC from about 2-3 years ago.

A modern mid range PC, even a reasonable Laptop, will be at least twice the CPU and GPU power of any current console.

A modern high end PC will utterly destroy any console.

For comparison, the current consoles (XBox 360/PS3) GFX card is basically equivalent to an nVidia 7800GTX or ATI X1900.

That was current tech back in 2006 when these were being created, that's 5 years ago now! These chip sets are so old, no one sells them any more.

To make matters worse, modern tablets (Tegra 2 etc.) and catching up rapidly with the consoles. The current versions aren't quite as fast as a console, but the next versions, due later this year or early next, will be.

If the PS3 and XBox 360 aren't replaced within the next 6 months (which they won't), then they won't even be able to keep up with mobile phones and tablets!

Current consoles are not 'next gen', they are not even 'current gen', they are 'past gen' and by several generations as well.

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Boffin

wow, I seem to have hit a nerve

yes, there are a few of you here who like to run the never-ending PC upgrade treadmill. That maybe 20% of the elReg readership, it's closer to 1% of the (developed) world at large. A developer cannot depend on you having the newest wizzbang-shiny graphics card, ergo they cannot afford to assume you do.

Most people do not buy a top-of-the-line PC. Most people do not upgrade their PC every 2 years. YOU ARE THE EXCEPTION, NOT THE RULE. (feel good about yourself, I just called you exceptional!)

Games are not made to show off the top-of-the-line machine, they are made to make money. That means they need to be playable by a wide-spread audience. Even if you make a PC version, you still have to target a 2-3 year old machine.

In processing resources, tablets may be able to challenge consoles (ignoring that tablets are a crap interface for most popular game-styles (would work well for RTS I bet)), you can't DEPEND on what's there. It's actually worse then the PC.

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and another thing to consider....

If your current desktop machine is having trouble running your favorite game, you can just hop onto a computer parts website and order what you need and upgrade it yourself. Can't do that with a console, tablet, or smart phone. Plus you can change the basic operating system to very nearly anything you want if you run one of the virtual hypervisors.

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FAIL

TWAT!

OK, a clever twat. But anybody who uses a currently availble fonndleslab as their "primary device", clearly doesn't do any real work: underpowered, no real keyboard, no major applications, no mouse/stylus for detailed design work, limited screen resolution.

OK, they can do simple cloud stuff, email and eBay, but nothing really usefull in my business life.

Todays fonndleslab currently FAIL, I still use my old HP TC4400 (Intel Dual Core 2.33GHz processor) Tablet PC. It is powered by Windows 7 and runs ALL of my needed vertical applications which just don't exist for low power ARM/Atom based tablets, however pretty they are.

The TC4400 is heavy, the battery only lasts 3 hours or 7 with the travel battery BUT I can do REAL work with it:

PCB design, Visio Design, Word, Excel, HD Video Editing, Visual Studio for designing applications for Web, XBOX, Windows Phone 7, SQL/Oracle Databases, run Virtual machines hosting Windows Server or Linux (yeah, I'm not totally MS!). AND I get the choice of keyboard & mouse or Stylus.

For my job, Functionality beats pretty (useless) Form evrytime.

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Gold badge

Erm

They run spreadsheets and all manner of stuff. iPad even has tools for SQL databases and stuff like Qlikview for business intelligence.

There's Garageband on the iPad, you can even plug in a MIDI device.

It's not so much a software limitation but the fact that developers aren't all flocking there yet or it takes time to port over desktop applications to the touchscreen user interface.

With a bluetooth keyboard a tablet is much better for typing.

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Anonymous Coward

@Giles Jones

The iPad is just a toy. Until Apple allows developers to install apps on the iPad without going through App Store and Apple taking 30% of revenue, you will never get any serious software installed on it.

Developers are waiting for Windows 8 and Windows 8 tablets.

You will see the iPad dumped in businesses for a Windows 8 tablet especially when they will be able to use MS Word and Excel for their work.

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Linux

It's not all point and click...

This "argument" all boils down to one important question. Is everything you do all just "point and click". If so then you might be suitably serviced by a tablet. Otherwise not. That is what a tablet is. It's essentially a device limited to a mouse only. It's not something that looks like a mouse so it it doesn't get recognized as such. However, that's what it really is.

If all you need is a mouse, that's fine. A lot of people need more flexibility and efficiency in their input devices.

This even includes people interfacing with databases.

It's almost like a reprise of the GUI vs. CLI argument.

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"With a bluetooth keyboard a tablet is much better for typing"

So by the time you're lugging around a keyboard, and presumably a mouse to make your tablet "much better for typing", and something to keep the tablet in an orientation thats useful how is it any different from a badly designed, underpowered netbook? Albeit one thats probably incapable of running the software you routinely use on your desktop...?

Horses for courses...tablet <> desktop replacement or indeed notebook replacement.

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Real Work?

My Brother in Law is a farmer. He's sitting on a combined harvester to bring in the crops at the Moment.

This can't be real work since he does not need a keyboard and mouse to do it.

Farmville on the other hand .....

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@Volker Hett

"This can't be real work since he does not need a keyboard and mouse to do it."

You obviously haven't been at the controls of a modern combine ...

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FAIL

That's good to hear

...because nothing would please me more than having all my VBA running in my Office applicatons on the tablet as well as being able to continue to develop my applications which requires ADO access to a massive database.

If I can get this to run happily on a tablet ten I will concur with the man's argument. Of course, when I am bashing code I am using two large monitors for a reason - they are not for show but for practical purposes and I would love to be able to have the same sort of visual space available to me on the same tablet.

Not against a tablet, but I wonder if that man does any real work other than let his documents loose in the cloud, look at a few web pages and does nothing but make a few notes.

If he thinks that the PC is dead then he's wrong. He's just got a souped-up Kindle.

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