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Why was the IBM PC so successful?


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#1 toptenmaterial OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 1, 2013 7:09 AM

It seems to be that there were many home computer platforms in the 1980s, but the PC is the one that endured. Now, I am making the assumption that the modern PC shares the same genes as the original IBM PC and it's cousins, the clones. There were so many different formats in the 80s, and many of them smoked the PC. I am assuming that a lot of the PC's success had to do with it's form factor- full keyboard and internal space for paripherals. But why is this platform still alive while most others have gone by the wayside?

#2 jaybird3rd OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 1, 2013 7:25 AM

The IBM PC was a highly modular design, so upgrades to the graphics hardware or storage technology could be added by inserting or replacing an expansion card. This wasn't the case with most of the highly integrated personal computers of that time, like the Atari 800. The IBM PC was also an "open standard" in that the specifications were published, the operating system and BIOS were available from third parties, and it was possible to develop add-ons for the PC—or even complete clones of the PC—without obtaining a license from IBM. This gave other manufacturers a "reference design" that they could start with, while competing on the implementation. As "IBM compatibles" became more popular, it also made life easier for software vendors, because they could focus on a single platform and exploit its capabilities, instead of developing for multiple platforms and taking a "least common denominator" design approach (compare Lotus 1-2-3 to Visicalc, for example).

#3 S1500 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 1, 2013 7:57 AM

Who knew an open architecture, thus inviting companies to make knock-offs, and thus lower prices would make to dominate the industry?

#4 nanochess ONLINE  

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Posted Wed May 1, 2013 8:27 AM

The open architecture was a good thing, but was the name IBM what make it successful, because for the first time a big name was supporting personal computers.

Because technically the initial PC specifications were far very limited, 8088 at 4.77 mhz, configurations in 16K, 32K and 64K of RAM, monochrome text or 4 color. The success here was that business feel confident on IBM and they required the 80 columns display commonly used in mainframes.

Of course, IBM didn't know that in contract they leaved open door to M$ to provide the operating system to other manufacturers, and that the open architecture would allow lesser cost clones to ultimately overcome IBM.

With the IBM support, everyone wanted to jump in making software because they know that IBM would not leave they in the bare as happened with many other little computers.

#5 Mr SQL OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 1, 2013 8:49 AM

It seems to be that there were many home computer platforms in the 1980s, but the PC is the one that endured. Now, I am making the assumption that the modern PC shares the same genes as the original IBM PC and it's cousins, the clones. There were so many different formats in the 80s, and many of them smoked the PC. I am assuming that a lot of the PC's success had to do with it's form factor- full keyboard and internal space for paripherals. But why is this platform still alive while most others have gone by the wayside?


toptenmaterial,
all good points on this thread! Here's my perspective:

I agree many of the home computers of the 80's beat the PC's by leaps and bounds. And for that reason, PC's of the 80's have largely fallen by the wayside while collectors avidly enjoy all of those other machines! PC's haven't actually endured at all:

PC's ushered in an era of disposable architecture (the incremental X86) wherein the underpowered machine quickly became useless while silmutaneously precipitating a need for the end user to buy the next better faster version (ditto for the expansion cards) and emulation (virtual PC) has now grown powerful enough to finally put an end to this model as well.

I've got an IBM "portable" 8086 suitcase computer from the 80's and one of the first 80286 laptops (from late in the game, 1992) but not too much you can do with either and they pale compared to a 1979 Atari 800, a 1980 CoCo or a 1982 C64 despite up to 13 years of advancement.

#6 akator OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 1, 2013 10:37 AM

80 columns and internal expansion were available on other platforms long before IBM, so it wasn't the tech advantages. Open standards were never IBM's intention, and they tried to sue clone manufacturers and Microsoft as soon as the clones arrived.

A very big part PC success was the IBM brand and the weight that carried back then. "No one ever got fired for buying IBM."

Another bonus was that IBM already had purchase channels and contracts through state and federal agencies for IBM office and computer equipment. Throw the PC into that product list, and all of the morons running purchasing departments in every part of US government bought IBM. Even schools and universities bought IBM. It was massively difficult to buy another brand of computer "off list," requiring massive paperwork or private discretionary grants. Non-IBM brands were even banned. Later clones were added to the approved purchases, but even Apple II and Macintosh were not allowed unless it could be proven that they were capable of doing something the PC wasn't. This type of draconian purchasing restriction didn't lighten up until the 90s, and by then the battle was over.

#7 Gemintronic ONLINE  

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Posted Wed May 1, 2013 10:59 AM

Basically it was the business software. No Visicalc means no sale.

#8 Dave Farquhar OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 1, 2013 4:41 PM

There was a big combination of factors, and without all of them, I'm not certain the IBM PC would have won the day.

Legitimacy: IBM brought legitimacy to the market. They were a serious computer company deciding to make desktop computers. That's why Apple literally welcomed them. That was arrogant of them--very arrogant--but Apple saw IBM coming in as a good thing, and it probably was for everyone, for a time at least.

Open architecture: Made it easy to develop for.

Software: IBM got business software right away, then they got Lotus 1-2-3. Nothing else had Lotus 1-2-3. That made it the killer app. The Mac's killer app was Pagemaker; the ST's killer app was MIDI and the Amiga's killer app was the Toaster. Lotus was bigger than those three combined, and it ensured the IBM PC would get all of the best business software first.

The PC had lots of shortcomings, but the open architecture let developers brute force its way through them eventually. And backward compatibility let it keep the market lead once it got it, as they slowly and surely addressed the shortcomings, bolting on faster CPUs, better graphics, better sound, etc., and driving the price down. Cheap clones didn't hurt, either. Well, it hurt IBM, but kept the standard going.

#9 wood_jl OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 1, 2013 6:03 PM

ATTACK OF THE CLONES!!! That's what made it so successful. The actual (IBM-branded, that is) PC (and PS/2, etc - real IBM machines) weren't that successful in the overal scheme of things, were they? Of course not! It's the clones that IBM itself faught vehemently - that can be attributed to the success of the architecture (etc) that they spawned.

Clone makers were seriously undercutting IBM's ripoff prices, and then IBM itself made a series of mis-steps, of course, with hindsight. First off, they thought the 286 was all the desktop user would need, which is why Compaq (back when they were a real tour de force) handed them their ass by beating them to the punch with the first 386, the Compaq Deskpro/386.

As well, IBM fucked-up big-time when they made the move to "Micro-channel" architecture on [most of] the PS/2 line. By this time, the rest of the industry had already cloned them significantly, and responded with the much more sensible EISA architecture. That was a major beat-down on IBM, who - obviously - had to eventually abandon Micro-channel. By the time Intel's PCI (and beyond, obviously, forgetting VESA LB) became the standard, IBM itself was a small player in the field of "PC-compatibles" that it had created.

So I don't think the question should be why the IBM PC was so successful, but the evolving architecture that it spawned. Sure, the original IBM PC was successful in that it wasn't a failure. It's just that the clone market that it spawned was so exponentially more successful, that it dwarfed the original IBM PC's success, by comparison. The clone makers not only made it cheaper, but the aftermarket (clone makers, etc) turned an overpriced, underpowered green screen boring machine into something that kicked the ass of everything else on the market by any measurable metric - speed, graphics, sound, price.

I think it's too much to claim that "The IBM PC" won, as it had its ass handed to it by others, who improved upon it, for incredibly less money.

Edited by wood_jl, Wed May 1, 2013 6:04 PM.


#10 macintosh man OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 1, 2013 6:25 PM

I do know one thing that sold ibm pretty well. there was a program where it knew when you spoke and the words would popup on the screen. like it also knew word differences like : write to mrs. wright right now. also a setback was that the ibm pc had binders and complicated cards while the mini computer had floppies and booklets. also ibm thought that" the minicomputer was too small to do serious computing and therefore unimportant to their business"-steve jobs 1984 keynote) theyt tried to sell their computer son that hoping tha tpeople would belive that and then people would buy ibm because of the big promise of high-tech with big computers then big blue would dominate. but that never happened. they entered the mini computer market too late after they realized that it was better than the huge pc with the complicated cards and binders and they didn't buy xerox or apple when they were young fledgling companies and that's why now i buy notepads and pens from ibm. ibm basically had a history of mistakes......./.........I think I got a little of topic

#11 S1500 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 1, 2013 6:25 PM

Funny things with IBM. The PS/2 line was terrible(hey, let's make the mouse & keyboard ports the same!), yet the Lenovo laptop line(IMO) was the best.

Let's also remember they won the console wars too, just very quietly. How? They made the processors for all 3 IIRC.

#12 Osgeld ONLINE  

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Posted Wed May 1, 2013 6:34 PM

I think the pc platform already won years before MCA

I tend to not think about it so much as IBM PC was a stellar hit, its was indeed the clones and a settling on a platform, IBM was the rock in a very violent sea, IBM did have a pretty spartan but powerful machine (4.7 Mhz 16 bit cpu with oodles of ram for the time, when most machines were 1mhz or 4mhz 8 bit machines restricted to 64k without doing some hacky bank switching)

#13 wood_jl OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 1, 2013 7:05 PM

I think the pc platform already won years before MCA

I tend to not think about it so much as IBM PC was a stellar hit, its was indeed the clones and a settling on a platform, IBM was the rock in a very violent sea, IBM did have a pretty spartan but powerful machine (4.7 Mhz 16 bit cpu with oodles of ram for the time, when most machines were 1mhz or 4mhz 8 bit machines restricted to 64k without doing some hacky bank switching)


The PC (most of them) were 4.77 Mhz green-sceen-no-sound pieces of 8/16-bit pieces of shit in 1985, when the Amiga (7.16 mhz) and Atari ST (8Mhz) both showed them up with 16/32-bit 68000s at nearly twice the clock rate, comparatively-incredible graphics, and at a fraction of the price. If those machines hadn't done so, they wouldn't even BE REMEMBERED as they are so fondly, on sites like this. I think what's difficult to comprehend - even with hindsight - is HOW FAST the market changed, at that time. In 1985, the PC - almost any of them - were overpriced, underpowered pieces of shit, with lame-ass graphics and shit sound. A mere 5 years later (thanks to the clones) the PC was a fast SOB with a Sound Blaster card (hopefully) and Super-VGA 800x600x256. That's a HUGE change in a small period of time. NONE of it had ANYTHING to do with IBM proper, who was licking their wounds (or balls) at that point.

#14 Subby OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 1, 2013 7:07 PM

I think Akator is pretty much right on. "no one wa ever fired for buying IBM". Nowadays that phrase just sounds absurd, but before the '90s, it was the law do the land. No business in their right mind would even be caught considering toys/junk from Atari/Commodore or that wacko's company Apple. (Thank you Atari marketing for destroying the toehold the A800 was just getting in the business world.)

Seriously, though, that is pretty much the way it was. I worked for NCR in the mid '80s and when the Amiga came out I mentioned it to business people I new, and the response was along the lines of "why would I want that? You buy those at Toys 'R Us, That is not a serious business machine." Which ended the discussion.
And clones, they really didnt get traction until _after_ the IBM PC was dominant. This time IBM's arrogance was their undoing.

S

#15 Osgeld ONLINE  

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Posted Wed May 1, 2013 8:44 PM

@ wood (hehe) I think you need to recheck your histroy, by 1985 it was very possible, but stupid expensive to have a pc compatible with a 32 bit 80386, EGA was a year old giving 64 colors at 640×350 while running all of the serious PC applications (yea great some systems had Turrican, but ...)

by 85 its a software issue, the 5150 IBM PC was 4 years old by then and while apple, amiga and tandy were busy switching out software compatibility, there was the rock solid IBM standard, its so darn rock standard, for better or worse, YOU CAN boot and run MSDOS on a brand new i7 if you dont mind a limited ram, and IDE only hard disk support here in 2013

no one else in histroy has made something so standard, the only other non clone survivor today is Apple, and they are not even compatible with themselves 9 years later, which is the 3rd time they have broken compatibility.

why is the PC standard so popular ... cause I can run software written in 1990 at work on a pentium 4 laptop thats beat to hell, along with office 2010, and firefox 20 ( not that that is my main work laptop)

or I can write software that runs on a 66mhz 486 or a core2 duo without a change

it may be a ghetto radio shack parts platform, it may be the devil between MS and IBM domination, but dang, you cant do that with any other platform

Edited by Osgeld, Wed May 1, 2013 8:49 PM.


#16 almightytodd OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 2, 2013 6:37 AM

Great thread, guys...

#17 wood_jl OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 3, 2013 8:35 PM

@ wood (hehe) I think you need to recheck your histroy, by 1985 it was very possible, but stupid expensive to have a pc compatible with a 32 bit 80386, EGA was a year old giving 64 colors at 640×350 while running all of the serious PC applications (yea great some systems had Turrican, but ...)



By 1985, it was not possible to have a 80386 PC. The 80386 processor itself debuted that year, but systems using it did not. While technology turnaround-times have shortened over the years, I point out (merely for reference) that the Motorola 68000 processor debuted in 1979 (when the 6502 was in full-swing) but it wasn't until 1984 that the Macintosh popularized it, and of course, the Amiga and ST did as well, in 1985. In the case of the 80386, it wasn't until November 1986 (one month shy of 1987, obviously) that the earliest write-up I could find on the system, can be found. That is BYTE November 1986. I have attached the short article as attachment JPEGs to this post, should anybody wonder.

You are correct, in that it was "crazy expensive" in late 1986/1987. It was $6499 (40MB drive) or $8799 (130MB drive). In a conversion to today's dollars, thats (ROUGHLY) $13,000 for the lesser model and $18,000 for the greater model. Crazy? You bet!

So, I stand by my earlier statement - that "regular" people would have been well-served by Atari ST or Amiga systems, at their low prices and excellent performance, for the time. They were. That's why we remember those systems, as we do.

by 85 its a software issue, the 5150 IBM PC was 4 years old by then and while apple, amiga and tandy were busy switching out software compatibility, there was the rock solid IBM standard, its so darn rock standard, for better or worse, YOU CAN boot and run MSDOS on a brand new i7 if you dont mind a limited ram, and IDE only hard disk support here in 2013


Sue you can. You can also emulate the other systems, as the processors and RAM are 10,000x what they were then. I never disputed that. We have no arguement, in that regard. We agree.

no one else in histroy has made something so standard, the only other non clone survivor today is Apple, and they are not even compatible with themselves 9 years later, which is the 3rd time they have broken compatibility.


I guess the differnece, then, is that I believe the clone makers grabbed the "standard" and ran with it, and you believe that some deference is due to the original IBM 5150? Yeah, sure. But IBM became quickly-irrelevant in the "PC-compatible" scene, and that's one of my points. The other point is that in 1985 (as it wasn't until practically 1987, as the attached BYTE article (not my word) aptly demonstrates, the 68000 systems were bang-for-the-buck champs. Hell, until the 80386 itself (and faster-Mhz 286s, 386SX, etc) came out - the 68000 systems were the price/performance champs. Once again, these 68000 systems would be forgotten and not fondlly-remembered, had they not achieved what they did. That is to say - in 1985, the PC was a slow 4.77 Mhz green-screen piece of overpriced shit, while the 68000 systems rocked excellent graphics, sound, and speed at $1000-or-so. That's just a matter of fact. Sure, LATER the PC overtook. But then we're talking about a different time period, and we're clearly not talking about genuine true-blue IBM. That's for sure.

why is the PC standard so popular ... cause I can run software written in 1990 at work on a pentium 4 laptop thats beat to hell, along with office 2010, and firefox 20 ( not that that is my main work laptop)


Because it was 1st popularized in business - who could afford to budget to pay IBM's ripoff prices. IBM was later itself ripped-off my the clone-makers, most of which were in Taiwan, China, or other low-wage countries. That's why.

or I can write software that runs on a 66mhz 486 or a core2 duo without a change


I should hope so. We're talking about the same system architecture. I don't recall insinuating that we were not.

it may be a ghetto radio shack parts platform, it may be the devil between MS and IBM domination, but dang, you cant do that with any other platform


I agree! We agree! It's a strength of the platform. The only difference is that you seem to still hold IBM (now a service company) to a higher esteem than I do. I think they had their asses handed to them decades ago - by the clone makers, and just about everybody else - in the hardware market. The system has changed so much - and by the advancements of people that were completely-removed from IBM proper, that it's silly to grant them "credit" for what we have now. Their shit sucked, by comparison, or the marketplace would have choosen true-blue IBM products. Clearly, it did not.

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#18 akator OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 3, 2013 8:53 PM

IBM wasn't marginalized as a hardware manufacturer for many, many years after the clones showed up. Consumers were buying the clones much faster than business and government. The bureaucracies with their purchasing agencies, contracts, and restrictions meant that companies like IBM and others enjoyed success even when Joe Public was buying Tandy, Compaq, Kaypro, Toshiba, and others.

It wasn't until after PS/2 was crushed by Windows 95 that IBM had finally lost the battle. At that point IBM was finally just another commodity PC manufacturer (with many other divisions, of course). IBM tried to reinvent their PC division with high-end quality laptops. That worked but didn't provide enough profit to make accountant management happy and IBM abandoned the PC market.

Consumer and business markets were much more differentiated in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. It has only been in the last decade that the consumer and business markets share a majority of the same tech products. Companies like Blackberry (formerly RIM) have only survived this long because of their entrenchment in the business sector, so something similar to IBM's decades of business PC success in the face of cheaper and better competition is not unheard of even today.

#19 Greg2600 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 3, 2013 9:44 PM

As others have said, IBM already had almost all the business contracts for mainframe and mini computers. When the micro computer became important, it was natural they just had to leverage their business connections. They had, still do, a vast network of sales, marketing, support, training, etc.

#20 atarian63 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat May 4, 2013 7:22 PM

@ wood (hehe) I think you need to recheck your histroy, by 1985 it was very possible, but stupid expensive to have a pc compatible with a 32 bit 80386, EGA was a year old giving 64 colors at 640×350 while running all of the serious PC applications (yea great some systems had Turrican, but ...)

by 85 its a software issue, the 5150 IBM PC was 4 years old by then and while apple, amiga and tandy were busy switching out software compatibility, there was the rock solid IBM standard, its so darn rock standard, for better or worse, YOU CAN boot and run MSDOS on a brand new i7 if you dont mind a limited ram, and IDE only hard disk support here in 2013

no one else in histroy has made something so standard, the only other non clone survivor today is Apple, and they are not even compatible with themselves 9 years later, which is the 3rd time they have broken compatibility.

why is the PC standard so popular ... cause I can run software written in 1990 at work on a pentium 4 laptop thats beat to hell, along with office 2010, and firefox 20 ( not that that is my main work laptop)

or I can write software that runs on a 66mhz 486 or a core2 duo without a change

it may be a ghetto radio shack parts platform, it may be the devil between MS and IBM domination, but dang, you cant do that with any other platform

in 1985 most if not all pc's were turbo xt and early 286,ad lib just coming out,no support,cga/mono switchable cards(vga in 1986 to the general public,8bit and nosupport initially just still pics) and just basically a POS and least for what most cared about , games,audio,color. fine for work if you liked a text based system, Atari ST and Amiga and Mac were light years ahead, yet the stupid public continued to buy the garbage.

#21 potatohead OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat May 4, 2013 10:58 PM

"continued to buy the garbage"

Well, that's relative isn't it? Most people I know who bought those kinds of PC's were either wanting to learn about doing business with a computer, or were actually doing business with a computer. At that time, if you knew some of the applications, you were very employable. The same remained true for a long time as each wave of tech came to market. I myself rode those waves multiple times making a lot of money along the way. Having made that money, I would gladly game on other things...

They bought the stuff because work was getting done. Work generally pays for gaming, so... there you go.

#22 Osgeld ONLINE  

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Posted Sat May 4, 2013 11:16 PM

people by then had invested a bucket ton of money in those serious applications, its hard to say "buy wordstar" and the very next year "buy wordstar again cause we totally changed architectures, but now have more games" 300+ $ a pop and here these yahoos are breaking compatibility every 4-5 years

it may be stupid to not get the cutting edge when your computer is just for entertainment, its not stupid to anchor down to a solid foundation when your making an investment ... in our production area its not impossible to find xt's replaced with 386's replaced with pentium 3's doing real work 24/7 running nearly 30 year old software cause the machine's they are hooked to (like a though hole pick n place machine) work perfectly ... commadore, amiga, even mac to a lesser degree cant even claim compatibility between series, nevermind none were around long enough to settle down.


its kind of like that story on slashdot a week or so back, a IBM industrial control machine (not even a computer) made in the 40's still running a plant to this day, if that was replaced by an atari in the early 80's it would have been replaced a few times by now to a x86 machine, but no, they made the investment in IBM and its still running over 65 years later, no major issues, cant really make that argument for a company who sold machines at toys r us

Edited by Osgeld, Sat May 4, 2013 11:26 PM.


#23 potatohead OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun May 5, 2013 8:43 AM

Yep. A whole lot of people do not see that play out in their lives and it makes things very hard to understand. Walk around any serious manufacturing operation, lab, R&D, test / measure, type facility and you will find systems for control, measurement, data collection, and all sorts of other things doing what they were designed to do. And they were expensive when first built and installed, and they are expensive now, and sometimes there isn't even an option to buy, meaning build again.

Tons of people bought Apple ][ computers to run VISICALC. Tons more bought a PC for Word Perfect and LOTUS 123. (A name I never did understand) Doing other things was just gravy. The specs needed to get work done are very different from those used to entertain.

My first PC was kind of crappy. Was some Amstrad thing with CGA, but it could run CAD applications. Could do early DOS gaming too, and of course I played those games, getting on line with a modem in 91. One of the first tasks was to hit up ftp.funet.fi and score. :) That one did work mostly. That work got me a lot of money, and I then was able to get a 386 24Mhz, interlaced VGA output capable of 1024x768 pixel display, non-interlaced 800x600... That one could play some decent games, and of course I played them, but that one ran the CAD much better, and the work paid for...

This is how it goes for many people.

Today lots of stuff is easy and cheap, but the big dollars still go to things that get work done. There is always the power gaming niche, and I don't think it's going anywhere, but if it does, it won't happen before getting work done does and anything that is designed to get work done is going to do well, given it actually does get the work done.

Lots of people thought the Apple 2 was garbage compared to the much more spiffy machines that followed. I was one of those people, but I also needed to get work done too, so I had an Apple and did the work which funded many spiffy things. Those that didn't do that, gaming, whatever often ended up doing other kinds of work, and the machines didn't matter to them.

The specs needed to do real stuff are different. Always have been, always will be.

BTW: Later on, serious CAD, visualization, life sciences, and all sorts of analysis, happened on powerful UNIX workstations. Those things were not cheap. 50K was easy to spend, and depending on what you wanted to do, they might be seen as garbage to the gamer / entertainment crowd. I ended up getting SGI gear, that would play a bad ass game. DOOM ran so sweet on one of those it's not even funny, and if you dual headed it, like two sets of monitors, keyboards, mice, etc... it could run multiple DOOMS without even missing a beat! So there is a case where everything else, even game consoles at the time were garbage in terms of the fun stuff, but not a lot of gaming happened, because it wasn't cheap, and everybody bought them to get work done.

I remember when we started getting dual CPU machines, and "Serious Sam" came out of Croatia. That game demanded a very serious PC, and we had one or two in the building as people were moving off of UNIX and onto the still growing PC. Awesome game, and we played it right, on a projector, good sound, etc... That experience would cost somebody $10K and we did it for fun because we had the gear.

Guess what? That year people were dropping $3K on gaming PC's, if not more to get at the upper crust of what was possible! All that getting work done fueled the advances needed to put machines out there that could then be gamed on hard, and each wave of gaming brought add on devices to the PC dragging things forward on both axis.

Gaming and porn really pushed connectivity and multi-media on the PC and it's the ability to add on, yet keep standards for getting work done that was the magic. The PC could have been done much better. It seriously sucked hard, but the vision of building layer by layer, rolling early investments forward to current ones was and is compelling today, and today we've build on, tweaked, and literally evolved standard stuff that runs great and is cheap.

There are still PC's being made though, and they still have slots in them, because there is still that need to get work done, add on options, etc...

USB and friends help a lot with this, and I think all of that is finally falling into niche land, but when we needed to do it we did. USB today is like the slots of old, and the ability to take the stuff we want to do and combine it to get that stuff done is what matters now, and it's what mattered then too. A PC would do that, most other things would not, and of those that would, they didn't have the position and or perception needed to create that center of gravity we all needed to move it forward like we did.

#24 atarian63 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun May 5, 2013 10:12 AM

"continued to buy the garbage"

Well, that's relative isn't it? Most people I know who bought those kinds of PC's were either wanting to learn about doing business with a computer, or were actually doing business with a computer. At that time, if you knew some of the applications, you were very employable. The same remained true for a long time as each wave of tech came to market. I myself rode those waves multiple times making a lot of money along the way. Having made that money, I would gladly game on other things...

They bought the stuff because work was getting done. Work generally pays for gaming, so... there you go.

Gaming paid for more gaming for me, sold the fun stuff ignored the boring stuff, still made lots of money, just never understood the boring crap.Each wave as you say has gaming involved and we rode that part and and did not carry the rest,still worked out and paid quite well without the annoying business type customers.we do sell pc's of course now as lease returns,sell them and kiss them goodbye,no support just a commodity

#25 atarian63 OFFLINE  

atarian63

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Posted Sun May 5, 2013 10:13 AM

Yep. A whole lot of people do not see that play out in their lives and it makes things very hard to understand. Walk around any serious manufacturing operation, lab, R&D, test / measure, type facility and you will find systems for control, measurement, data collection, and all sorts of other things doing what they were designed to do. And they were expensive when first built and installed, and they are expensive now, and sometimes there isn't even an option to buy, meaning build again.

Tons of people bought Apple ][ computers to run VISICALC. Tons more bought a PC for Word Perfect and LOTUS 123. (A name I never did understand) Doing other things was just gravy. The specs needed to get work done are very different from those used to entertain.

My first PC was kind of crappy. Was some Amstrad thing with CGA, but it could run CAD applications. Could do early DOS gaming too, and of course I played those games, getting on line with a modem in 91. One of the first tasks was to hit up ftp.funet.fi and score. :) That one did work mostly. That work got me a lot of money, and I then was able to get a 386 24Mhz, interlaced VGA output capable of 1024x768 pixel display, non-interlaced 800x600... That one could play some decent games, and of course I played them, but that one ran the CAD much better, and the work paid for...

This is how it goes for many people.

Today lots of stuff is easy and cheap, but the big dollars still go to things that get work done. There is always the power gaming niche, and I don't think it's going anywhere, but if it does, it won't happen before getting work done does and anything that is designed to get work done is going to do well, given it actually does get the work done.

Lots of people thought the Apple 2 was garbage compared to the much more spiffy machines that followed. I was one of those people, but I also needed to get work done too, so I had an Apple and did the work which funded many spiffy things. Those that didn't do that, gaming, whatever often ended up doing other kinds of work, and the machines didn't matter to them.

The specs needed to do real stuff are different. Always have been, always will be.

BTW: Later on, serious CAD, visualization, life sciences, and all sorts of analysis, happened on powerful UNIX workstations. Those things were not cheap. 50K was easy to spend, and depending on what you wanted to do, they might be seen as garbage to the gamer / entertainment crowd. I ended up getting SGI gear, that would play a bad ass game. DOOM ran so sweet on one of those it's not even funny, and if you dual headed it, like two sets of monitors, keyboards, mice, etc... it could run multiple DOOMS without even missing a beat! So there is a case where everything else, even game consoles at the time were garbage in terms of the fun stuff, but not a lot of gaming happened, because it wasn't cheap, and everybody bought them to get work done.

I remember when we started getting dual CPU machines, and "Serious Sam" came out of Croatia. That game demanded a very serious PC, and we had one or two in the building as people were moving off of UNIX and onto the still growing PC. Awesome game, and we played it right, on a projector, good sound, etc... That experience would cost somebody $10K and we did it for fun because we had the gear.

Guess what? That year people were dropping $3K on gaming PC's, if not more to get at the upper crust of what was possible! All that getting work done fueled the advances needed to put machines out there that could then be gamed on hard, and each wave of gaming brought add on devices to the PC dragging things forward on both axis.

Gaming and porn really pushed connectivity and multi-media on the PC and it's the ability to add on, yet keep standards for getting work done that was the magic. The PC could have been done much better. It seriously sucked hard, but the vision of building layer by layer, rolling early investments forward to current ones was and is compelling today, and today we've build on, tweaked, and literally evolved standard stuff that runs great and is cheap.

There are still PC's being made though, and they still have slots in them, because there is still that need to get work done, add on options, etc...

USB and friends help a lot with this, and I think all of that is finally falling into niche land, but when we needed to do it we did. USB today is like the slots of old, and the ability to take the stuff we want to do and combine it to get that stuff done is what matters now, and it's what mattered then too. A PC would do that, most other things would not, and of those that would, they didn't have the position and or perception needed to create that center of gravity we all needed to move it forward like we did.


zzzz huh what?




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