Sunday, December 12, 2004

The Personal Computer: What Could It Become?

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If you're like me and use a PC many hours each day, this article by David Gerlernter will speak to your heart-- and your frustrations. An excerpt:
IBM can't think of any practical way to sell its PCs for significantly more money than other companies charge. And IBM is no random group of bums off the
street. Once upon a time it was the most powerful force in the technology world; it still employs some of the smartest people in the field. If IBM has consigned the personal computer to Commodity Limbo, the prognosis is bad. Which is a shame, even a tragedy--because the modern PC is in fact a primitive, infuriating nuisance. If the U.S. technology industry actually believes that the PC has grown up and settled down, it is out of touch with reality--and the consequences could be dangerous to America's economic health.

Gerlernter, who is a fine conservative thinker and happens also to be a professor of computer science at Yale, goes on to list some of the applications PCs could offer us all if only someone smart would get to work on developing them. Again, if you're like me, you'll find yourself saying, "Yes! Boy, could I use that!"

Gerlernter thinks it is inevitable that those applications will be developed, although he is pessimistic about the U.S. role in that process:
Know this for sure: Some company will build all this and more into a radically more powerful, radically simpler PC. Will it be an American company? Don't count on it.
It's a great read for those of us who are captive to PC technology.

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