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

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 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.

  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples.gmail@com> on Thursday August 11, 2011 @08:18AM (#37054486) Homepage Journal

    not many businesses nowadays depend solely on PCs for their income

    But they do depend on PCs to count their income and to make promotional material to sell their products to make income.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton