IBM PC's co-designer says PC era is ending

Tomorrow, the world will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the IBM PC. The design created by the company is still around in its most basic form in most personal computers built today. But one of the designers of that first IBM PC says that the personal computer's time is close to ending. In a IBM blog site entry, Mark Dean, currently IBM's chief technology officer in the Middle East and Africa, says he now does most of his computing on a tablet (he doesn't specify which tablet he uses).

Dean, who was part of a team of 12 engineers who helped to create the first IBM PC, says, "When I helped design the PC, I didn’t think I’d live long enough to witness its decline. But, while PCs will continue to be much-used devices, they’re no longer at the leading edge of computing. They’re going the way of the vacuum tube, typewriter, vinyl records, CRT and incandescent light bulbs." He adds that the traditional PC is not being replaced by the smartphone or the tablet " ... but by new ideas about the role that computing can play in progress. These days, it’s becoming clear that innovation flourishes best not on devices but in the social spaces between them, where people and ideas meet and interact. It is there that computing can have the most powerful impact on economy, society and people’s lives."

IBM sold off its personal computer business in 2005 to Lenovo. It also no longer sells PC peripherals or hardware like printers and hard drives. However, instead of falling behind Dean says that IBM is better than ever. He says, "We anticipate changes and try to get out ahead of them—rather than waiting and reacting defensively. IBM has been on a path of constant transformation ever since we launched our turnaround in the mid-1990s." He adds, "We conduct fundamental scientific research, design some of the world’s most advanced chips and computers, provide software that companies and governments run on, and offer business consulting, IT services and solutions that enable our clients to transform themselves continuously, just like we do."

With his new role as IBM's CTO for Africa and the Middle East, Dean says he wants to help Africa improve its technology and computing industry. He says, "While the PC revolution has had a tremendous impact on the world, I believe that the work that IBM and others are doing in Africa could have an even bigger impact over the long haul."

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"He adds that the traditional PC is not being replaced by the smartphone or the tablet " ... but by new ideas about the role that computing can play in progress."

Need to quote this line again. He obviously added the above so that most don't get caught up in the present times and miss his point, but oh well...

This engineer is a visionary and a fundamentalist. He has spoken the truths of what many are doing everyday on computers who're missing the point of what and why they're doing such things. He also pointed out why some innovations fail and some succeed by calling out the fundamental cause for technological advancements. Innovation isn't device-driven but aspiration and intent of humans.

So if you're thinking the shortcomings of tablets/smartphones, at least you're on the right track.

I'm not familiar with tablets, but do they have enough ports to hook a mouse, keyboard, and the power cord to it at the same time? i guess they could be made that way...

Whatever that can be more faster and precise than a mouse and a keyboard... yeah, THAT will replace the standart PC as we know it. Before of that there is a looooong way to go.

How is the tablet a post-PC device? If we're talking in terms of hardware the laptop isn't a traditional PC either; if we're talking in terms of software that's only true if it's running a glorified phone OS--with Windows 8 the tablet will merely be one of several PC form factors.

He adds that the traditional PC is not being replaced by the smartphone or the tablet

I think the sentiment is that traditional desktop devices are no longer the only mechanism for such tasks as email and internet, or infact electronic interaction for the mainstream.

To this we cannot disagree, however traditional desktop devices (incl. laptops and netbooks) continue to have a required audience, currently working with word processessor and spread sheet applications is far more efficiently performed on a desktop and I can't even imagine trying to develop software on anything else.

However I do regularly send emails and browse the internet (even play games) from the comfort of my none fruit related smart phone.

Everyone is behaving like morons. Why will the PC go anywhere? Typewriters were replaced by the far more productive and efficient PC. But tablets, which have been around for like 10 years, are not more productive or efficient than a a desktop or laptop. I can place a million dollar bet right here right now that no one with an iPad, using the onscreen keys, is going to beat the productivity of someone using a mainstream laptop made in 2011. Give me a break. Why do techies want tablets to rule, the PC made you, not some gimmicky inefficient iFad.

Iridium said,
Everyone is behaving like morons. Why will the PC go anywhere? Typewriters were replaced by the far more productive and efficient PC. But tablets, which have been around for like 10 years, are not more productive or efficient than a a desktop or laptop. I can place a million dollar bet right here right now that no one with an iPad, using the onscreen keys, is going to beat the productivity of someone using a mainstream laptop made in 2011. Give me a break. Why do techies want tablets to rule, the PC made you, not some gimmicky inefficient iFad.

Good job proving your "point" using a stacked wager. Here's a thought, attach a keyboard to the tablet and now the keyboard example you gave is invalid. Both devices are now equal for the average user. Both devices are capable of listening to music and watching movies. Both can play farmville, Facebook, chat programs, etc. What he is saying has a point. For most people, a tablet actually does most if not all of what they do on a daily basis. I think he is overstating a bit that traditional PC's are on the way out all together but they are definitely on the way out for the majority of basic home users. PC's in the workplace and school are really all that's left. Well those people and people with hobbies that require it like photography and such.

Also your hate on Apple is amusing considering everyone makes tablets now and they are all essentially the same devices doing the same things. Facebook, Farmville, and Youtube.

ILikeTobacco said,

Good job proving your "point" using a stacked wager. Here's a thought, attach a keyboard to the tablet and now the keyboard example you gave is invalid. Both devices are now equal for the average user. Both devices are capable of listening to music and watching movies. Both can play farmville, Facebook, chat programs, etc. What he is saying has a point. For most people, a tablet actually does most if not all of what they do on a daily basis. I think he is overstating a bit that traditional PC's are on the way out all together but they are definitely on the way out for the majority of basic home users. PC's in the workplace and school are really all that's left. Well those people and people with hobbies that require it like photography and such.

Also your hate on Apple is amusing considering everyone makes tablets now and they are all essentially the same devices doing the same things. Facebook, Farmville, and Youtube.

You would also need a stand for the tablet but yes

I would want an external screen as well, if you try working on the 10 inch screen it is much less productive than on a 24+ inch screen

Minimoose said,

You would also need a stand for the tablet but yes

I would want an external screen as well, if you try working on the 10 inch screen it is much less productive than on a 24+ inch screen

Of course but the key word here is work. Not play. Consider that the way tablets are progressing, soon you can just attach them through HDMI cables to your TV at home and there is your 24+ inch display anyway. Point is that most things that people do with their desktops can be done with a tablet because most people only do things like chat, watch video, listen to music and facebook.

majortom1981 said,
Technically isn't a smart phone a personal computer? So pcs are not going anywhere.
This is exactly what Microsoft says, and I agree. But by PC, people usually refer to a desktop computer. And since Microsoft wants to reduce the line between smartphones, desktops and tablet with Windows 8, I don't think it is going anywhere.

Dear Sir at IBM,

You're probably the biggest moron ever for saying that. People are talking for years and years that snail-mail will die because we got email, no it won't happen and sure as hell PC's won't go anywhere just because of some trend Apple created. Apple will be finished off soon anyway if they go on like this and then your dear tablets will fade into the background. (Maybe it's too much to say they will fade but it's the same logic that this guy used to say PC era is coming to an end).

Next time, Mark Dean, think before You say something like that.

Best Wishes
PC User

Kardo Kaul said,
Dear Sir at IBM,

You're probably the biggest moron ever for saying that. People are talking for years and years that snail-mail will die because we got email, no it won't happen and sure as hell PC's won't go anywhere just because of some trend Apple created. Apple will be finished off soon anyway if they go on like this and then your dear tablets will fade into the background. (Maybe it's too much to say they will fade but it's the same logic that this guy used to say PC era is coming to an end).

Next time, Mark Dean, think before You say something like that.

Best Wishes
PC User

Dear Kardo,

Read the article and then read your comments!

Thanks
Mohit

Mohitster said,

Dear Kardo,

Read the article and then read your comments!

Thanks
Mohit

Sorry, didn't notice before that IBM is ending it's PC era. My mistake and apologize.

Dean is a moron for saying that? The man was one of 12 engineers responsible for the first PC... he may be a great many things but a moron... that's a fairly big call. I can only imagine the number of fantastic creations you've given the world.

People have been saying the PC, in it's current form has been dying since then 90's - it might take a little longer but we'l get there People used to laugh at Sun's vision of the NC... and sure in the 90's it was maybe a little premature technology wise... now with more and more services and applications in the cloud it's all beginning to look a lot closer to a NC than a PC.

For the basic at home sit on a couch person, yes, a PC isn't useful and a tablet based device is.

Windows 8 even seems aimed more at touch based devices with comments like "It also works on a PC with a mouse and keyboard".

SPARTdAN said,
For the basic at home sit on a couch person, yes, a PC isn't useful and a tablet based device is.

Windows 8 even seems aimed more at touch based devices with comments like "It also works on a PC with a mouse and keyboard".

Yea, for a couch potato even a TV is more useful because that requires less effort.

My point is, yes i understand and agree that for some things tablets are easier to use... and for other things people will just give up on doing the work if they can't be bothered to move their lardasses. If a thing can't be done on a tablet and people give up on doing it, then it means that thing isn't being done, period, not that a tablet is more efficient. If a job isn't being done, then it isn't being done, period, don't call that efficency (at least not all the time.)

What's with this hipster like trend of companies downplaying the future of PCs?

PC's aren't going anywhere until better human interfacing comes along. IE, direct neural interfacing.

Caleo said,
What's with this hipster like trend of companies downplaying the future of PCs?

PC's aren't going anywhere until better human interfacing comes along. IE, direct neural interfacing.

i tend to agree. there is still to much use for Home PC's for them to fade off anytime into the foreseeable future.

because while stuff like IPOD's and IPAD and some fancy cell phone's have internet and work well for some basic uses a PC is still better for the more fancy stuff as you basically got a PC or a Laptop to do everything where as everything else is basically a watered down version of a PC/Laptop.

Caleo said,
What's with this hipster like trend of companies downplaying the future of PCs?

PC's aren't going anywhere until better human interfacing comes along. IE, direct neural interfacing.

It gets him quoted in the press. If he told the truth, no one would report it or give him the time of day, unfortunately.

Try doing some serious work on a tablet. I believe more in a device that transforms according to your needs. A mobile phone that allows you to link a screen, mouse and keyboard and acts like a desktop at that moment.

"He adds that the traditional PC is not being replaced by the smartphone or the tablet " ... but by new ideas about the role that computing can play in progress."

Read the article, that's not what he said

Tekkerson said,
"He adds that the traditional PC is not being replaced by the smartphone or the tablet " ... but by new ideas about the role that computing can play in progress."

Read the article, that's not what he said


What are these "new ideas"? The latest fad are tablets/smartphones…

Tekkerson said,
"He adds that the traditional PC is not being replaced by the smartphone or the tablet " ... but by new ideas about the role that computing can play in progress."

Read the article, that's not what he said

No, he said the PC is being replaced by Facebook. And work is being replaced by fun. ;-)

Tablets these days are as powerful (if not more powerful) than laptops I was using not so long ago. Indeed, even their resolution if higher than many of the screens I've worked on in the not-so-distant past.

I completely agree that tapping away on a screen isn't necessarily as fast as a proper keyboard, but - as you say - just hook it up to a real keyboard if you need to.

I imagine that, by the end of next year, smart phones will be easily powerful enough to respond to the vast majority of the average user's computing needs. Build a projector into the back of it to project in Full HD in your office or at home, and hook it up to a wireless keyboard if you need to do a lot of typing...

Oslik said,

No, he said the PC is being replaced by Facebook. And work is being replaced by fun. ;-)

He obviously doesn't work in systems administration or with SharePoint. No fun in this.