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PC Designer Says PC "Going the Way of the Vacuum Tube" 685

Posted by samzenpus
from the pack-it-on-the-zeppelin dept.
jbrodkin writes "One of the original engineers of IBM's first PC says PCs are 'going the way of the vacuum tube, typewriter, vinyl records, CRT and incandescent light bulbs.' With the 30th anniversary of the IBM 5150 (running MS-DOS) coming this week, IBM CTO Mark Dean argues that the post-PC world is very much upon us, perhaps not surprising given that IBM sold its PC business in 2005. Microsoft, of course, weighed in as well, saying the PC era is nowhere near over. But perhaps in the future we will consider a personal computer anything a person does computing on — whether that be laptop, tablet, smartphone, or something that hasn't even been invented yet."
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PC Designer Says PC "Going the Way of the Vacuum Tube"

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  • by YouWantFriesWithThat (1123591) * on Thursday August 11, 2011 @08:08AM (#37054378)
    Me: "I'll take supposedly obsolete technology for $200"

    Trebek: "the vacuum tube, typewriter, vinyl records, CRT and incandescent light bulbs"

    Me: "What are things I have in my house"

    *DING DING*
    • by Elbereth (58257)

      Vacuum cleaners are different than vacuum tubes.

      • by ByOhTek (1181381)

        This being slashdot, it's safe to assume the GP knows that.

        As for where they are, electronics using vacuum tubes are popular with audiophiles and people who like playing with old radio equipment, particularly ham radio operators with a bit of nuclear war paranoia...

        • As for where they are, electronics using vacuum tubes are popular with audiophiles and people who like playing with old radio equipment, particularly ham radio operators with a bit of nuclear war paranoia...

          Or guitar players that realize a tube amp sounds better than 95% of solid-states.

        • by rubycodez (864176)
          I don' t know about *your* microwave oven, but *mine* has a vacuum tube.

          My TV also has one, it is eight years old flat CRT and its auto-adjusted picture is still beautiful so I'm not replacing it.
    • Okay, the vinyl records, CRTs, incandescent light bulbs, and even the typewriter I can understand. But what could you possibly still be using that has vacuum tubes in it?
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Guitar amps and bass amplifiers, and preamps for vocals, for their nice distortion.

        • by rgviza (1303161)
          There is very little distortion with tubes unless you overdrive them. They do clip more musically than silicon, yes, but that's not the only reason people use them.

          A tube mic preamp can be much cleaner and musical with less THD than any amplifier on a chip.

          Some of the cleanest, most distortion free preamps in the world are tube driven. I'm not talking about $200 t00b amps from guitar center, but amps like the universal audio 610 or 6176 or some of the Manley stuff. If you are getting a distorted signal from
          • by AJH16 (940784)

            Technically there is some distortion inherent in tubes, just not the kind you are thinking of when you think distortion. That is the reason they are preferred by many. They give the sound a characteristic "warm" sound which is precisely from the lack of digital precision involved in a digital conversion. This is why people have worked on tube modeling DPS effects to attempt to replicate the subtle way in which tubes distort the sound.

            • by eexaa (1252378)

              FYI, the "warmth" you describe is actually caused by vibration of internal components (mostly the grid in triode) which usually reflects the actual harmonic tones being played. When amplified, it gives the signal almost unhearable chorus-like effect.

      • Russian fighters
      • what could you possibly still be using that has vacuum tubes in it?

        Amplifier?

        Though most people who 'use' those, just 'use' it as a conversation piece.
        e.g. http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volume_6_4/images/manley-stingray-amplifier.jpg [hometheaterhifi.com]

      • by Sven-Erik (177541)
        Amplifier for your stereo system...
      • by TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @08:17AM (#37054474)
        Your microwave. Ok it is a magnatron, but still its a vacuum device (electrons in a vacuum). But vacuum tubes are far from obsolete.
      • by sam0737 (648914)

        Those vacuum tube Hi-Fi that I will never hear the difference, I suppose

      • by Trepidity (597)

        I'm going to respond to your comment and say "amplifier", without reading the seven responses your comment already has, which I'm sure mine won't be duplicating. This is how to post well, right?

        • by lucm (889690)

          But do this kind of amplifier sound better?

          • by hjf (703092)

            It doesn't. Tube amps *have* distortion, that's why they're good for distorting guitars. Transistor amps don't distort (under their acceptable input range), take less power, generate less heat, have unlimited service life, etc. The difference is that transistor amps distort sharply and tube amps distort "gracefully".

            It's a lot like film vs. digital photography. Film gives you grain, colors are distorted (depending on what film you're using. Velvia doesn't look the same as Portra). Nowadays, digital looks ju

      • by SirGarlon (845873)
        Several things [lmgtfy.com]
      • by bloodhawk (813939)
        CRT's are vacuum tubes. also you can still get some high end tube based amps
      • My father still listens to a 40's era (huge) radio. It's a conversation piece for sure, but it does also sound quite nice. Lots of vacuum tubes in the back.

        Plus, vacuum tubes are fairly expensive to buy now. I know they aren't really making them too much any more, but old technology that isn't useful doesn't get expensive, so someone must be using them. I doubt there are too many collectors that just like to have vacuum tubes without an application for them.

    • by ledow (319597)

      But it's not at all far-fetched to imagine (or even FIND) millions of people without any of those things in their house, even in the first-world countries. I can probably name half a dozen close friends for whom it's true, and I'm only in my thirties.

      I have only CRT (because I'm too cheap to buy an LCD when I have something that works, and like my 4:3 ratio on my TV, and use my laptop for more than my TV), and incandescent lightbulbs (slowly being replaced as they blow with energy-savers because a) I'm not

      • "And PC's are in the same sort of categories - few people have a desktop PC nowadays"

        Nonsense.

        As I sit here at work I see hundreds of desktop pcs. At home I have a gaming pc as do my three kids. my wife does have a netbook but she only reads blogs and watches the news. I do also have an iPad and an iPhone bit it's still gonna be a long long time before I give up my desktop pc. Most of my friends are the same.

        "vacuum tubes...I've never used one, don't own one " Yes you have, and yes you do.., "I have only CR

    • Me: "I'll take supposedly obsolete technology for $200" Trebek: "the vacuum tube, typewriter, vinyl records, CRT and incandescent light bulbs" Me: "What are things I have in my house" *DING DING*

      While in understand your point - I still have those as well, I think your comment misses the articles point:

      The PC, as we used to know it - a big box that runs an OS and is not very portable and ties you to specific data storage locations and programs, is on teh way out. It is being replaced by smaller, portable devices that perform the same functions (which still are important) but using different technologies and in some ways a completely different a paradigm of ow we accomplish a task.

      We still do the sa

    • by lucm (889690)

      I would have said: what are obsolete things that phony people say they still use?

  • by rtkluttz (244325) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @08:14AM (#37054442) Homepage

    Nahhh.. Never happen. Smaller more portable devices are coming and filling in the gaps and taking market share, but there will always be power users who need as much power as can be fit in a form factor about the size of a PC and that power will keep increasing just as it always has.
    Pundits just WANT the PC to go away because they realize they screwed up in that early product cycle by giving all the power to the users. Users have the ability to change anything or do anything they want and can un-cripple anything they do to that class of devices. They want to introduce something shiny and new that is locked down and sealed box like smart phones where they can cripple them and sell the features back to you piecemill.

    • there will always be power users

      But with tablets allegedly eroding the economies of scale of the home PC market, how long will individual hobbyists still be able to afford new PCs?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Okay, seriously? You mean to tell me you can't fathom people spending gobs of cash on some bad-ass box when they're spending 4-500 on things the size of our hands!? Please...

        PCs aren't going anywhere and the idiot who made the original comment about this is some moron who has his head in the cloud a bit too much.

        • by Destoo (530123) <<destoo> <at> <gmail.com>> on Thursday August 11, 2011 @08:40AM (#37054714) Homepage Journal

          PCs aren't going anywhere and the idiot who made the original comment about this is some moron who has his head in the cloud a bit too much.

          *squint* .. I see what you did there..

        • I already have a tablet with HDMI output that I can plug into a big screen. It has a USB host mode, so I can connect it to 1TB+ worth of hard drive space, as well as full sized keyboards, mice (though I could equally do those with Bluetooth) etc.

          The one I have now has a 1GHz dual core cpu and an OS that makes it feel instantly responsive. Later this year, quad core versions of the same CPU will be available.

          What can your full-size box offer me that I don't already have?

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        But with tablets allegedly eroding the economies of scale of the home PC market, how long will individual hobbyists still be able to afford new PCs?

        Tablets are a fad. It should be no surprise that some of the best selling accessories for the iPad et al are stands and keyboards. Some of those keyboards even include a touchpad mouse. It should also be no surprise that the best selling apps (that are not games) for the iPad et al are productivity applications like PDF readers, word processors, spreadsheets, and presentation managers. The customer basically wants a laptop with a long battery life and a shiny factor amped to 11. Maybe a detachable screen.

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        When are they going to make a fold open, dual 21" ipad that can do full video editing AND run After Effects for Composting and CGI.
        Oh and while you are at it, Show me the Maya 3D app for iPad...

        Yeah, PC's are dead... for the appliance users not for those of us that actually use computers.

    • Nahhh.. Never happen. Smaller more portable devices are coming and filling in the gaps and taking market share, but there will always be power users who need as much power as can be fit in a form factor about the size of a PC and that power will keep increasing just as it always has.

      Yes, there are power users out there. And they will, indeed, continue to demand things from their computers that the typical user does not. But that's pretty much irrelevant.

      The quote is: "going the way of the vacuum tube, typewriter, vinyl records, CRT and incandescent light bulbs. And that's not far from the truth.

      Yes, people still use vacuum tubes, typewriters, vinyl records, CRT's, and incandescent lightbulbs. But I'd argue that with the exception of lightbulbs, they're all seeing dramatically redu

      • When is a tablet a PC and when is a PC a tablet? To me its all marketing speak to hide the fact that PC just got a lot more portable.
        • By saying "PC" I think they meant the desktop PC with the separate monitor and the keyboard/case and not some wearable "Personal Computer" of the future.
      • by mwvdlee (775178)

        Pretty much every office worker will want a large display, keyboard and mouse.
        The size of the box holding the computer parts is irrelevant to even the most demanding user, unless that particular power user is still using a room sized mainframe ofcourse.

      • by realityimpaired (1668397) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @08:47AM (#37054828)

        At home, perhaps. But for business? There's no way a tablet or a phone could suit the needs of a business user, putting together things like presentations, spreadsheets, etc. Let alone working with tools that keep everything going.

        And as long as people still have that kind of stuff on their desk at work, they're going to ask why they have to make do with a tiny screen to do that stuff at home. Perhaps the PC as we know it is going the way of the dodo, but a screen with an operating system and some kind of input device (keyboard/mouse/etc.) is not going anywhere. For one, it's really not possible to type at a decent speed using a touch screen like on an ipad... no tacticle response. Bluetooth keyboards are well and good, but there's an input lag that will screw with anybody who types faster than 80wpm or so.

        So yes, perhaps the PC as we know it is going the way of the dodo. But I doubt very much that things like laptops, particularly portable light-weight laptops, are going anywhere any time soon. Perhaps when we see more devices like the Asus eee transformer in larger more usable screen sizes, we'll start to see a traditional PC disappearing, but I doubt we'll ever see a transformer like that with a 15" or 16" screen, because it kind of defeats the point of having a tablet.

    • by ByOhTek (1181381)

      But general users will probably be just fine with a (cell phone and/or a tablet) + dock, the latter for the cases they need to write a report or something, and would rather have a keyboard than touch screen, or want to play their games on a bigger screen.

      The desktop won't go the way of the dodo, but it will become an endangered species, and the notebook will probably do so not long after. The one thing I can see revitalizing either market beyond a niche, is desktop/notebook docks, which you plug your phone

    • Pundits just WANT the PC to go away because they realize they screwed up in that early product cycle by giving all the power to the users. Users have the ability to change anything or do anything they want and can un-cripple anything they do to that class of devices. They want to introduce something shiny and new that is locked down and sealed box like smart phones where they can cripple them and sell the features back to you piecemill.

      Wish I had mod points, but looks like others are taking care of that...

      You pretty much hit the nail on the head. Killing the PC would be the end of the DIY-era of home computing, which is exactly what these portables makers want. They want us all on un-upgradeable, no user serviceable parts inside, proprietary connection tablets that dial home every minute to make sure that you are only using approved software in approved ways, software that can only be downloaded from "The Cloud®©" and be cripp

  • Like any other issue where businesses are involved, it depends on whom you ask. Microsoft will obviously say the PC isn't dead, as most of their income depends on it. Apple will say the PC is dead (but not the Mac). Mobile device makers will say the PC is dead.

    The real problem is that not many businesses nowadays depend solely on PCs for their income.

  • Macs (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    But perhaps in the future we will consider a personal computer anything a person does computing on — whether that be laptop, tablet, smartphone, or something that hasn't even been invented yet.

    Like macs? Please for the love of gods, can we please refer to them as PCs? They are fracking personal computers!

    • A-fracking-men. I'm surprised Apple hasn't done a bit about this, actually. Like, by calling them PE's for Personal Experience, or some such shit.

      Off-topic, I know.

    • Someone: What's that?
      Mac Owner: It's my Mac.
      Someone: Nice PC.
      Mac Owner: It's not a PC, it's a Mac.
      Someone: What's the difference?
      Mac Owner: The difference is that it's a Mac and not a PC.
      Someone: Is it yours?
      Mac Owner: Yes.
      Someone: It's your computer?
      Mac Owner: Yes.
      Someone: Yours personally? You own it?
      Mac Owner: Yes.
      Someone: So it's your personal computer but not a personal computer?
      Mac Owner: Exactly. Now you get it.
  • by shellster_dude (1261444) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @08:21AM (#37054510)
    The "post PC" age is not upon us. Small computers and cellphones largely do what PC's used to, but they don't even come close to being capable of handling high-end gaming, graphic editing, movie editing, sound editing, and heavy mathematical computation. Small computers also aren't particularly convenient for software development in general. Unless the landscape radically shifts those items aren't going away anytime soon.

    Someone is just trying to get a little press buzz and desparately hoping the world takes notice of them.
    • by tepples (727027)

      Small computers and cellphones largely do what PC's used to, but they don't even come close to being capable of handling high-end gaming

      Which home users tend to do on dedicated devices such as Xbox 360, PLAYSTATION 3, and the forthcoming Wii U.

      graphic editing

      Doable on an iPad according to Google [google.com].

      movie editing, sound editing, and heavy mathematical computation [and] software development

      Which, as I understand it, most home users tend not to want to do in the first place. I fear that PCs will become something that only a business buys.

      • by grumling (94709)

        Yes, you can edit movies on a tablet, but how easy is it?

        Hell, typing on a tablet, even with a dock or BT keyboard is still a frustrating experience. I know because I'm doing it now.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Sure, and we still produce and use vacuum tubes, CRTs and all the other things he mentioned. Even buggy whips. But they're niche markets. High end gamers, heavy number crunchers, etc. are niche markets. The PC market, particularly desktops, has stopped growing and has been shrinking for a while now. More and more people (and businesses) are using netbooks, smart phones and tablets for their routine computing, and it's a trend that will likely continue in the future. The PC isn't going to disappear any time

      • "Niche" implies small. There is nothing small about any of the categories I mentioned. You might argue that they will continue to shrink into small edge cases, but that isn't currently the case. I know that in 10 years I'll be doing all of the above still. A gaming console does not even come close to PC gaming in terms of user ability to control their character or the level of immersion you can get. Video editing, Sound editing, and graphic editing are all done by amateurs as well as professionals on f
    • Someone is just trying to get a little press buzz and desparately hoping the world takes notice of them.

      "Remember that guy who said PCs where going away?"

      "No, but he sounds like a dumbass."

      Yeah, that should work out great for him.

  • by DragonHawk (21256) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @08:22AM (#37054518) Homepage Journal

    From TFS: "But perhaps in the future we will consider a personal computer anything a person does computing on..."

    That's what the term "personal computer" means in the first place. Person. Computer. It's not that big a leap to get from where we are to... where we are.

    • Person. Computer. It's not that big a leap

      A dictionary defines "to compute" as "to calculate" [reference.com]. How is it "calculating" to read articles over the Internet? Sure, there is calculation involved in laying out the boxes on a page styled with CSS, but that's hidden from the user.

      • by msauve (701917)
        How is it calculating to punch numbers and symbols into a calculator to get a result? Sure, the calculator is doing math, but that's hidden from the user.
      • by Sique (173459)

        The page is still calculated from the data transferred. It's not as if the site providing the article is prerendering everything and then send it uncompressed to the viewport. So different than a book, where every page is finished and stored for ever, the pages of a webserver are indeed calculated every moment you view them. And most people are aware of that, because they know that pages change their layout on the fly if one resizes the browser window.

  • I could see the specific form of a PC tower (ATX/microATX board, etc.) being on its way out. But what constitutes a "laptop" has been expanding in both directions, to the point where it's a bit of an incoherent category. On the small end, you have netbooks, which are sort of in the process of eventually merging with tablets and handhelds as well. But on the other end, you have gigantic luggables, which are sprouting more weight and expansion slots. I wouldn't be surprised if, within a few years, they start

  • by superdude72 (322167) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @08:26AM (#37054550)

    The PC will not be obsolete as long as there are still a few people around who actually *do some work*, rather than just consume entertainment.

    • by tepples (727027)

      The PC will not be obsolete as long as there are still a few people around who actually *do some work*, rather than just consume entertainment.

      I agree with you. But a divide between devices for consuming entertainment and devices for doing some work raises a barrier to individuals who would try creating for once [pineight.com].

    • by boristdog (133725)

      Exactly. Every desk in every office in the world generally has a PC on it. Granted, many are docked laptops, but they are PCs.

    • by Convector (897502)

      So, PC's will be obsolete in about a week?

    • by Kelbear (870538)

      I agree, there will always be people who really need the capabilities granted by a stationary PC.

      The summary's proposition of: "But perhaps in the future we will consider a personal computer anything a person does computing on — whether that be laptop, tablet, smartphone, or something that hasn't even been invented yet." seems quite reasonable to me though. Given the inherent breadth of applicability of the term "personal computer" and the growing practicality of portable computing, I think this sort

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Non-PC computers are getting more and more capable. I got rid of my last desktop about five years ago, doing everything on a notebook, including high performance scientific computing (development on the notebook, calculation on a cluster). I'd love to have R running on my iPad, which (along with a wifi connection to a number crunching server in the closet) would let me use it for a good portion of what I do, and could completely replace a PC for a lot of scientists and corporate analysts.

      It's quite possible

    • It's simply a matter of terminology. The PC is going away, but workstations are here to stay

  • by ledow (319597) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @08:27AM (#37054560) Homepage

    Why is a laptop not a PC?

    It's a personal computer (you can't get more personal than sitting on someone's lap). It has full compatibility with "PC" software and quite a lot of hardware, has the same external ports, has the same keyboard and video standards, and has the same kind of display. It's just that someone shrunk it and stuck a hinge in the middle.

    The standalone desktop - sure, that might be on the way out, but what do you think all those SOHO servers are sitting in? A laptop? A 19" rack? Nope. But a laptop IS a PC - it's the PC we would have had 50 years ago if the technology allowed it. If you'd asked someone in the 60's to design a "personal computer", it would have been portable, and come with all the added extras (screen, keyboard, disks) built in - and it would connect wirelessly and run for hours off a battery without needing to be plugged in. That's sitting on most people's desks and in most student's bags nowadays.

    Though they'd probably add "all the computers work the same", "they all use the same standards" and "the contents of world libraries and textbooks would be free". You can't have everything though, in a corporate world.

    I hate smartphones. They are underpowered computers slapped into a device that has a single primary purpose. I like my general purpose computers for 99.9% of things I want to do and if I want to phone, I Skype or use the cheapest, most basic mobile phone available. The point of the PC (and a laptop) is that is a general purpose machine. The other gadgets AREN'T. I can't word-process on a touch-screen. I can't play 3D FPS on a smartphone. I can't play a DVD on a 2" screen. I can't compile my code on something that doesn't let me run any program I like. I can't even view most damn web-pages/streams properly without having a "full" PC. But on a laptop, you can do all those things and have touchscreen/3G/Skype/a headset etc. if you want.

    Sure, it's not practical in every application but the point of a PC (especially a laptop) is that it's general purpose. I can literally do everything a computer can do, without having to juggle compromises.

    The PC isn't dead - it's just that one old definition of it has ceased to be relevant, while another newer definition has taken over because it does everything the same, but better.

  • BluRay....it's going to be obsolete in 5-10 years when a new standard is released that supports higher resolutions. Oh, cars...no one will be able to afford a car, so in the next 50 years, people will just pay for transportation everywhere with robotic drivers, no need to drive with smart cars. Computers are evolving as well, but in the same way that there will always be a need/desire for more powerful devices for WORK related tasks, and because mobile devices will always be less powerful due to heat

  • I'm also sure the PC as we know it will disappear or at least change radically, but probably not in the next 10 years. Their mainstream adoption, in the meantime, will probably fall back to the same proportion as people who had PC in the 90's; people who wanted PC because they wanted a PC, not because it became a common household item and a commodity.

    Ultimately, I think the trend will go toward wearable computers and perhaps personal household servers when people realize the "cloud" is probably just that
  • by hcs_$reboot (1536101) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @08:28AM (#37054576)
    I don't feel the PC-like (including Mac and Linux) era is over on my side.
    My concerns are
    - Internet is not available from anywhere
    - More importantly, cloud offers do not guarantee that all my data is stored on their side in an encoded way that makes the data understandable (humanly or computerly) only when it's locally on my computer

    These are my two requirements.
  • Wasn't the PC proclaimed dead by Oracle and IBM in the late '90s already? To be replaced by the thin client Network Computer?

    You can't take mine on the cart yet, because it says that is isn't quite dead . . .

  • Seems unlikley. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by serviscope_minor (664417) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @08:31AM (#37054600) Journal

    It seems rather unlikely.

    Vacuum tubes were replaced by transistors which are smaller, cheaper, much more reliable, much more capable of integration and for most applications have superior performance characteristics. Valves don't give you anything extra.

    Typewriters have obviously been replaced by something which has all the features plus many, many, many more which are very useful. Again, there is nothing you can do on a typewriter that you can't do more easily otherwise.

    Vinyl records. Well, some people still hold on to them. But, CDs are generally sound better, are smaller, more robust, don't wear out as they are played, cheaper due to the small size, hold more audio, don't need to be double sided etc. There are apparently a few cases where vinyl is alleged to be better, and that's probably why they still exist.

    Incandescent bulbs haven't gone yet. I, personally avoid them where possible, but they are still cheaper and have a much higher power density than the competitors. They're still around because there is no complete replacement. It is likely that replacements will slowly replace incandescents as their capabilities improve.

    So, onto PCs. What is going to replace them?

    If you want to write a lot or code, nothing beats a proper keyboard and a large screen (or two). Nothing beats the PC for 3D graphics performance. Nothing beats the data storage and bandwidth (want to do video editing in the cloud, eh?). Nothing beats a PC for the range of peripherals which ban be plugged in. Nothing beats a PC in terms of flexibility. Etc, etc, etc.

    Of course mobile devices will start to catch up in some areas, but unlike the previous examples, the PC is a moving target. It will always be 5 steps ahead because the technology is the same but the formfactor allows it.

  • This just seems like someone making a claim to (successfully) steal a headline. This is just like those that say that mobile phone games are the future of the gaming industry. As far as I am concerned, this is utter bullsh*t and is only a projection based on a short-term analysis of the data. Sure, mobile phones are the fastest growing market for games at the moment, but only because the PC market has reached saturation; this will happen with other platforms too (growth always tops out). Some operations can
  • I can see a future where mobile phones are powerfull enough to do anything, even for developers and video editors. It just needs a bigger monitor, mouse and a fullsize keyboard in those situations. That's easily provided with wireless connections. Maybe it's not based on PC-architecture (386-like), but I guess that's not the issue here.

    • by grumling (94709)

      Actually, the architecture is exactly the issue. Fujitsu has been making tablets since the mid 1990's, running various versions of Windows. They never seemed to get much traction, I think due to the wintel platform.

      Now that Microsoft has finally figured out that start menus don't work on touchscreens, we just might see something new.

      Of course, Intel does have an Android port on the Atom, so who knows what they're up to?

  • by mwvdlee (775178) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @08:34AM (#37054634) Homepage

    A few decades ago, only the most nerdy of people had PC's.
    In a few decades, only the most nerdy of people will have PC's.

    • by bytesex (112972)

      Yeah. O, and the people who have to do actual typing. But never mind those - they're probably a small minority.

  • by 91degrees (207121) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @08:34AM (#37054638) Journal
    I have a desktop at work. I have one at home but it's a remnant of a bygone era. If I stop being able to incrementally upgrade it I'll get a high-end laptop. Most of what I do I can use my netbook for.

    For work, it's the focus of everything you can do. A laptop is adequate but the keyboard isn't as good, nor is the monitor, nor is the trackpad. You can use an external version of each of these but if you're doing that why go for the expense of a laptop?

    For the home, a PC needs a place to live. It needs a desk and chair. These take up space. A laptop can be used on any table and packed away and put on a shelf when finished with.
  • The day I stop buying PCs is the day we can easily build laptops and tablet from easily available consumer-grade parts. Probably not even then.
  • As I've read before on slashdot (and it bears repeating), portable devices are excellent content viewers, but terrible content creators. Good luck trying to do any of the following on a phone / tablet: edit the fine details of an image in PhotoShop (let alone find such a device powerful enough to even run PhotoShop), type up a report (attachable keyboards don't count, because then you may as well have a lightweight notebook), edit a spreadsheet, tweak the pixels in a bitmap file, program and debug code, ed

  • When you pry my actual keyboard and 30 inch display out of my cold, dead hands.

    And this isn't a case of audiophile tube bullshit: Actual proper keyboards and large bright displays (that never wink out because your battery just died) are just two of the things that make desktop PCs objectively superior to handheld anything for many tasks (like anything involving text entry and interactive graphics editing).
  • by captainpanic (1173915) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @08:46AM (#37054810)

    Thomas J. Watson, president of IBM, famously said "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers".
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_J._Watson#Famous_misquote [wikipedia.org]

    Apparently the company still pursues the same goal.

  • I was thinking about this and while we are likely to see people moving more and more to tablets, I don't think the PC will die out, rather it will be viewed differently. An iPad is great for 'consuming' content, but it is a poor tool for creating content. Sure it can do some content creation, but it isn't really where is excels. A PC on the hand is great for creating and working with content, but for many people it is probably more than they need for the task of viewing content, writing e-mails and surfing

  • am I doing it wrong?

  • If you set your cell phone at a desk, plug in an HDMI interface (or some newer alternative), and start working via a real monitor, bluetooth keyboard and mouse, what do you call that*?

    * Also, I refuse to believe that we will ever live in some star trek future where keyboards don't exist because engineers instead choose to "talk to" their computers. If we don't like talking to people, what makes you think we want to talk to computers?

  • The PC is dead! Long live the PC!
  • IBM sucks at those sorts of predictions. On the other end of this line back in the early 90s, their "real" development groups were making fun of the OS/2 team because PCs were "toys that will never amount to anything! If you want to do REAL computing, you buy an AIX workstation!" Or an AS/400, or a MVS mainframe. 20 years and a multi-billion-dollar software industry that IBM could have been a leader in later, we see how well THAT prediction went. They probably still think your PC should serve as a dumb text
  • IIRC IBM sold their PC division because the whole desktop PC market had become very commoditised and low-margin. Nothing to do with the decline of the PC.

    OTOH, if the summary is implying that the IBM guy has a vested interest in saying that the PC (which they no longer produce) has declined, I'm not convinced. What stake do they have in its obvious "successors"?

    Oh, and BTW, this guy may have designed the *IBM* PC, but he did sure as hell did *not* design the personal computer as a general concept or for
  • by jurgen (14843) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @09:20AM (#37055180)

    ...indistinguishable from a PC.

    They keep saying that PC's are going to be replaced by: set-top boxes, game consoles, smart-phones, etc. But the moment any of these devices are advanced enough to replace the personal computer they ARE the personal computer.

    That's why in the end the only thing that will truly replace the PC is another PC. Doh.

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