Computers and Internet

From IBM to Apple to Windows to ???

Just before I started writing this post, I have just witnessed one of the seminal events in the history of the computing world: The unveiling of the Macintosh by Steve Jobs in January 1984.

The video would come across as slightly amusing to someone of almost the same age as the Mac itself. Specially the part where Jobs shows off the capabilities of the Mac to the world. The “tricks” performed by the machine would come across as child’s play to someone used to working on the computers of today. I mean, you wouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes to make a power point slide with your name sliding across the monitor, would you?

But that’s not the point. The point is the amazing development that Computer Science has made in the course of the last 2.2 decades. From a machine which looks more like a toaster (pic at the right) to the sexy laptops that we see today, its been one hell of a journey.

Don’t believe me?? Okay, the computing power contained in the original Mac was less than what I have in my cell phone. Puts the whole thing in a new perspective, doesn’t it.

The Macintosh was the first computer to feature a graphical user interface. Before that the tyranny of the command based IBM mainframes had resulted in only a fraction of the people daring to learn to use a computer. In fact, this was one of the points that Apple used in the advertising of the first Mac.

The success of the Mac is also a clear example of the premium people place on the values of simplicity and good design. The value that can be gained from making your product a mass market product rather than the preserve of a few (think IBM Mainframes), can also be seen in the example of the Mac. By mass market I mean something that can be used and understood by the common man.

It is also ironical how far the Mac and Apple have moved from their initial "mass market" image. I mean how many people can actually afford a Mac today? The advent of the cheap, assembled and pirated Windows based computers has resulted in the Mac being relegated to an extremely niche market today. In affect, what the Mac kind-off did to the IBM mainframe in the mid 1980’s was the same as what Microsoft did to Apple a decade later. You just can’t afford to relax.

Will Google manage to do a similar thing to Microsoft tomorrow?

Ladies and Gentlemen, get your popcorn ready… the show has just begun.


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