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Old 08 August 2008, 01:30   #1
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What if...


Just a few words that illustrate the blind luck & many design decisions that went into the original PC...
...any one of which, if changed, would have lead to a very different personal computer market today.

Anyone care to speculate..?
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Old 08 August 2008, 02:31   #2
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I don't know. I tend to think that if IBM hadn't had this crazy idea back then, Apple would have had a far bigger share right now. They have been there from the start also but got undermined by the crazy explosion in popularity of the IBM pc. It amazes me even more that Apple has managed to stay in the market nonetheless and are gradually biting off a bigger percentage of it.

I remember seeing a documentary about this very topic a few years back. It is refreshing to see that two sources actually match up 100% for a change.
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Old 08 August 2008, 05:59   #3
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Great computer, far ahead of it's time.
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Old 08 August 2008, 17:30   #4
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Nothing about IBM's first PC was blind luck. It was all very well thought out by a bunch of guys in Boca Raton, Florida. As for changes that would taken the industry in different directions, tthe first thing that leaps to mind is 'openness'. It was a stroke of genius and really out of character for IBM. Far more significant though (which is really saying something) was their contracting out to Microsoft to produce the OS *and* allowing Microsoft to retain the rights allowing them to sell it to others. Can you imagine how different things would be today if they'd gone with CP/M?
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Old 08 August 2008, 17:40   #5
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Originally Posted by adolescent View Post
Great computer, far ahead of it's time.

But maybe not far from the truth...
...How did a hugely overpriced & underspecced box end up winning out given all the competition..?
I'm not sure it's that plain even now. Blind luck, I suspect... Certinly having IBM's muscle behind it will have gone a long way while competitors were so good at self-destructing.
I guess the PC's big 'innovation' was making an 'endlessly upgradeable' box a reality - nobody wants to thow their investment in equipment & time away when the 'next big thing' comes along...
...the 'next big thing' may be a crock of poo & sometimes the better plan would indeed be to start a-fresh but people in general aren't good at those kind of judgements.
Also as gklinger mentions the way the project was set up allowed for the development of an 'open platform'.

A couple of obvious thoughts:
-What if the PC had gone 68k? I suspect it would have made no great differnece to the development of the PC but where would Intel be now?
Would there be a PPC-chip at all..? The juggernaut that has driven on the x86 architecture would likely have done the same to the 68k one...
...there would now be an ongoing debate about 68k baggage holding things back but how much simpler would things have been for the Amiga platform..?

-Then there's the old chestnut: What if Digital Research had backed the IBM PC..? Well, there'd be no M$ for starters...
...Is that good for completing platforms..? I suspect not - why? DR were not great innovators but were there-abouts with the kind of 'eye-candy' that made Mac's & the Amiga different to casual observation. My guess is the PC would be even more dominant & Apple would be long gone. The Amiga may well have sunk without trace...
...funnily enough the Atari ST may have lasted quite a while off the back of OS / software ports from the more expensive PC.

Why bother with such speculation?
Well, I'm interested in asking such idle questions...
...there are retro-platforms & retro-platforms:
-If your nostalgia fix is something like the C=64 then nostalgia is what you're dealing with. There can be no arguing that it's time has been & gone.
-But for something like the Amiga I can't help asking 'what if?' because it's obvious the platform (like the PC) could easily have developed with time.
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Old 09 August 2008, 01:21   #6
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the IBM Personal Computer set Operating Systems back 20 years!
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Old 09 August 2008, 01:33   #7
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The Truth?

IBM was owned by the MOB!
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Old 09 August 2008, 20:35   #8
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Seriously though, I think IBM is only part of the story. IMHO, had the PC BIOS not been reverse engineered, the PC would not have been as successful. Closed/proprietary hardware and software has hurt every manufacturer since.
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