IBM CTO: PC dead, glad we flogged Lenovo

 

Microsoft disagrees.

One of Big Blue’s first patent holders reckons the decision to sell Lenovo was evidence it was at the forefront of the post-PC era. 

Celebrating the 30th anniversary of IBM’s first personal computer, the IBM 5150, Mark Dean, IBM’s new Middle East and Africa chief technology officer announced he had ditched his PC for a tablet. 

“I, personally, have moved beyond the PC as well. My primary computer now is a tablet. When I helped design the PC, I didn’t think I’d live long enough to witness its decline,” Dean said. 

IBM’s 5150 was unveiled at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City on August 12, 1981.

As Microsoft’s chief of corporate communications officer, Frank X. Shaw pointed out, IBM’s PC was not the first

There was the Apple II, launched in 1977, the Commodore PET, The Osborne 1, and the Tandy TRS-80. 

PCs would remain in use, according to IBM’s Dean, but they were no longer “leading edge” devices, lumping it with other aging technologies such as the vacuum tube, typewriter and vinyl records.

Innovation was now a social phenomenon that happened between devices rather than on the PC, according to the IBM veteran who holds three of IBM’s original nine patents and led the team that created the first one-gigahertz chip. 

That shift proved IBM was right to sell Lenovo, he said. 

“It may be odd for me to say this, but I’m also proud IBM decided to leave the personal computer business in 2005, selling our PC division to Lenovo.

“While many in the tech industry questioned IBM’s decision to exit the business at the time, it’s now clear that our company was in the vanguard of the post-PC era.”

Not surprisingly, Microsoft’s Shaw disagreed with the notion that the world was in or nearing a post PC-era. 

“People sometimes ask me about what Microsoft thinks about the post-PC era. I prefer to think of it as the PC-plus era, since there will be 400 million PCs sold worldwide this coming year, but that’s semantics,” he said. 

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