PC'S 25TH BIRTHDAY (UNDER LINKS)
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The PC's 25th
The dream of the personal
The IBM PC helped to
democratise computing. Now to finish the job
NOT many 25-year-olds can
reasonably claim to have changed the world.
The IBM personal computer, which was launched in 1981
and celebrates its 25th birthday in August, is a rare exception. Other personal
computers had been launched before; but it was the IBM PC
that ended up defining the standard around which a vast new industry then
coalesced (see article).
IBM, the titan of the computing world at the time,
quickly lost control of its own creation, allowing others to reap the benefits.
But leave aside what the PC has done for the fortunes
of particular companies, and instead step back and consider what the PC
has done for mankind.
most obvious achievement has been to help make computers cheaper, more widely
available and more useful than ever before.
Before it appeared, different computers from different manufacturers were
mostly incompatible with each other. The PC's
architecture was not perfect, but its adoption as an industry standard made
possible economies of scale in both hardware and software. This in turn reduced
prices and enabled the PC to democratise computing.
It is also worth celebrating the innovation that has been unleashed by the PC.
Its flexible, general-purpose architecture has made it the platform on which new
technologies, from voice-over-internet calling to peer-to-peer
file-sharing, have been incubated. Most important of all, the PC has,
in the past decade, turned primarily into a communications device, thanks to the
rise of the internet. Cheap, fast global communication, online
commerce, the ability to
find the answer to almost any question on the web using a search
engine and the many other wonders of the internet are all underpinned by the
widespread availability of inexpensive, powerful PCs.
But although the PC has its merits, it also has
its faults. Its flexibility has proved to be both a strength and a weakness: it
encourages innovation, but at the cost of complexity, reliability and security.
And for people in the developing world, PCs are too
bulky, expensive and energy-hungry. When it comes to extending the benefits of
digital technology—chiefly, cheap and easy access to information—to everyone
on the planet, the PC may not be the best tool for
Computing for all
Look on the streets of almost
any city in the world, however, and you will see people clutching tiny, pocket
computers, better known as mobile phones.
Already, even basic handsets have simple
web-browsers, calculators and other computing functions. Mobile
phones are cheaper, simpler and more reliable than PCs,
and market forces—in particular, the combination of pre-paid billing plans and
microcredit schemes—are already putting them into the hands of even the
world's poorest people. Initiatives to spread PCs in
the developing world, in contrast, rely on top-down funding from governments or
aid agencies, rather than bottom-up adoption by consumers.
Merchants in Zambia use mobile phones for banking; farmers in Senegal use
them to monitor prices; health workers in South Africa use them to update
records while visiting patients. All kinds of firms, from giants such as Google
to start-ups such as CellBazaar,
are working to bring the
full benefits of the web to mobile phones. There is no question that
the PC has democratised computing and unleashed
innovation; but it is
the mobile phone that now seems most likely to carry the dream of the
“personal computer” to its conclusion.
The 8th Habit
Each Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal productivity or personal development book.
Since I started this review series, I’ve reviewed two books by Stephen Covey: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (which I enjoyed, but wasn’t blown away by) and First Things First (which I really enjoyed and found very applicable to my life). However, I did find some overlap between the two and decided that I wouldn’t read another Covey book unless there was an idea or concept that clearly stood out. At first glance, The 8th Habit definitely stood out.
In a nutshell, The 8th Habit is to find our voice and inspire others to find theirs, with voice referring to an individual’s unique personal significance. How do we find out that thing about ourselves that is unique and is also valuable to others, and also help others to find this out about themselves, too?
A Deep Look At The 8th Habit
The 8th Habit is accompanied by a DVD with 16 inspirational short films on it, one to accompany each chapter (more or less). These were okay - I watched a few of them - but I found the book more thought provoking.
Chapter 1 - The Pain
Chapter 2 - The Problem
Chapter 3 - The Solution
Chapter 4 - Discover Your
Voice - Unexpected Birth Gifts
Chapter 5 - Express Your Voice
- Vision, Discipline, Passion, and Conscience
Chapter 6 - Inspring Others To
Find Their Voice - The Leadership Challenge
Chapter 7 - The Voice of
Influence - Be A Trim-Tab
Chapter 8 - The Voice of
Trustworthiness - Modeling Character and Competence
Chapter 9 - The Voice and
Speed of Trust
Chapter 10 - Blending Voices -
Searching For The Third Alternative
Chapter 11 - One Voice -
Pathfinding Shared Vision, Values, and Strategy
Chapter 12 - The Voice and
Discipline of Execution - Aligning Goals and Systems for Results
Chapter 13 - The Empowering
Voice - Releasing Passion and Talent
Chapter 14 - The 8th Habit and
the Sweet Spot
Chapter 15 - Using Our Voices
Wisely To Serve Others
Buy or Don’t Buy?