Long before I joined the editorial staff of TechRepublic I worked as a lowly staffer for a local public accounting firm. This was the 1980s, and the IBM PC was the calculating tool of choice. The office had two of the original IBM PCs, both with amber displays.
Today is the 30th anniversary of the IBM PC, and those of us at the proper age are feeling a bit of nostalgia for that old workhorse desktop computer. If you are feeling sentimental about the "good old days" of computing, you should check out our IBM PC photo galleries:
By sheer happenstance and blind luck, I became the de-facto IT admin for that little public accountant office I worked for in the mid-1980s. That meant that I also became the "go-to guy" when it was time to expand the office and add another computer to the operation. This was around 1989, I believe.
In much of the 1980s, there was a mind-set that only IBM made a reliable business computer. To suggest an IBM-clone PC could be acquired for business use was tantamount to lunacy. I know this was a real mind-set even in 1989 because I naively thought my boss would want to save money so I recommended a PC-clone. I had an IBM-clone PC at home and was very happy with it. I was overruled.
So my boss, a very conservative man (some may say cheap) ordered that I get an IBM PC, but an inexpensive one as possible. We ended up with a PS/2 — it worked, but it wasn't the best deal. If he had taken my advice, he would have saved money and have had a more capable PC, albeit not from IBM.
Not long after that, I left the public accountant's office and was on my own. My next PC purchase was from Gateway, which was so small at the time I think Ted Waitt actually took my order. I, like so many others, have been buying non-IBM-produced PCs ever since. That is not a knock against IBM; it is just the nature of a highly competitive personal computer market.
When did you first buy a non-IBM-built personal computer? What did you buy? Do you think IBM actually built the best PCs? When did IBM lose that distinction?
Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.