How Were PC’s Mass Marketed?

The first computers were called mainframes. They were big. Very big. They were big as a classroom, or even bigger, just to give you an idea. These primitive machines have lots of gizmos in it which made it very bulky. It had vacuum tubes, valves, transistors and a lot more. After numerous studies and further experiments later, the microprocessor was born. Then came Altair 8800 which according to the article that I’ve read was the “first personal computer”, then came Paul Allen and Bill Gates’ BASIC, which was basically a computer language which made Altair a lot more interesting because it made Altair more productive. Two years later, Apple I was developed. It was developed by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Then came Apple II, which was the “new and improved” version of Apple I. Apple II was a big hit indeed. Then came IBM. IBM was the company that developed the bulky mainframes. The IBM people were astonished with Apple II’s success and so, they developed their own personal computer. According to the article that I’ve read, instead of creating a computer out of scratch, IBM bought components off the shelf and assembled them. Naturally, their personal computer will be useless if there’s no operating system. And so, when they were done assembling the parts, they approached Bill Gates and Garry Kildal to develop an operating system for their newly built personal computer. For some reason IBM settled with Bill Gates. This operating system was called the PCDOS. If Apple II had Visicalc, IBM had Lotus 1-2-3. IBM’s personal computer was such a big hit. Other companies were very overwhelmed with IBM’s success. They also want to be successful like IBM, and so, they started to develop their own personal computers. These companies didn’t have a hard time developing their own personal computers because, they used reverse engineering. Based on our discussion in our SoftMet class, reverse engineering is figuring out how something work based on an existing model or framework. With the use of reverse engineering, they copied the architecture of IBM’s personal computer and since IBM’s softwares could run on non-IBM machines, these companies also adapted these softwares. Just like what I’ve said a while ago, the physical components of IBM’s personal computer were just bought over the shelf, meaning, everyone can buy those parts easily and can practically assemble it the way IBM did. And so, these envious companies didn’t have a hard time developing their own because they already had an existing “model” to copy. Companies such as Dell, Compaq, and Northgate emerged. After some time, Hewlett Packard, Acer, Toshiba, Fujitsu and the others eventually followed. As a result, IBM was faced with tough competition. Because of this, IBM developed their own operating system, the OS/2. Meanwhile, on the other side of the valley, Bill Gates was developing Windows and Apple launched Macintosh, its very first user-friendly personal computer which paved the way for desktop publishing. After some time Windows 1.0 came out to the market, then came Windows version 3, Windows 95, 98 and so on.      At present, computers can now be found in almost every household. It became a powerful tool that created such an impact to the society. Back then computers were sold for business purposes only, maybe this explains IBM chose International Business Machines as their company name. But now, computers encompass almost every aspect of life. Undoubtedly, this will never be possible if not for IBM. They created the mass market for personal computers. If not for IBM’s “copy prone” architecture, probably, we’re still far from the technology that we are enjoying now.


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