A story in The Economist last week dropped the following facts in its lead paragraph to set the stage for an interesting article:
"Endless Love" by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie was at the top of the charts. Ronald Reagan was staring down the Soviet Union. And Princess Diana, aged 20, was on her honeymoon with Prince Charles"¦
If the summer of '81 doesn't come rushing forth from the dim recesses of your memory, that might be because The Economist forgot to mention a certain swim meet in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, where I was probably busy finishing last in the 100-meter freestyle.
Ahh, now it's all coming back to you, eh? No? Well let's continue on with some more facts from the article and see if you can guess the story:
Roughly one billion are now in use across the world
In America there are 70 for every 100 people
The combined stockmarket values of the firms involved exceed half a trillion dollars
Yes, they were talking about the PC -- and the one that started all the hubbub back on August 12th, 1981, was, of course, the original IBM 5150, which turns 25-years-old this week.
Clearly IBM wasn't the first PC on the market. There were many others, including the Apple II, which predates the 5150 by a few years (ding! IBM: 0, Apple: 1). And while early Apple architecture allowed cloning, that soon changed with the introduction of their Macintosh line, enabling the PC platform to proliferate and, let's face it, take over the personal computing world. (ding! IBM: 1, Apple: 1)
Over here at my house we're a multi-platform family: my wife prefers PC, while I swear by Apple. It's kind of like we've each married out of our respective faiths and we often joke about which platform we'll bring our kids up on.
While I could go on and on (and on!) about why I prefer Mac to PC, we'd rather hear which you prefer, dear reader, and why. So gloves off now, and may the best platform win!