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PC Designer Says PC "Going the Way of the Vacuum Tube"

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the pack-it-on-the-zeppelin dept.

IBM 685

jbrodkin writes "One of the original engineers of IBM's first PC says PCs are 'going the way of the vacuum tube, typewriter, vinyl records, CRT and incandescent light bulbs.' With the 30th anniversary of the IBM 5150 (running MS-DOS) coming this week, IBM CTO Mark Dean argues that the post-PC world is very much upon us, perhaps not surprising given that IBM sold its PC business in 2005. Microsoft, of course, weighed in as well, saying the PC era is nowhere near over. But perhaps in the future we will consider a personal computer anything a person does computing on — whether that be laptop, tablet, smartphone, or something that hasn't even been invented yet."

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supposedly obsolete tech (4, Funny)

YouWantFriesWithThat (1123591) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054378)

Me: "I'll take supposedly obsolete technology for $200"

Trebek: "the vacuum tube, typewriter, vinyl records, CRT and incandescent light bulbs"

Me: "What are things I have in my house"

*DING DING*

Re:supposedly obsolete tech (2)

Elbereth (58257) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054414)

Vacuum cleaners are different than vacuum tubes.

Re:supposedly obsolete tech (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054562)

This being slashdot, it's safe to assume the GP knows that.

As for where they are, electronics using vacuum tubes are popular with audiophiles and people who like playing with old radio equipment, particularly ham radio operators with a bit of nuclear war paranoia...

Re:supposedly obsolete tech (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054724)

As for where they are, electronics using vacuum tubes are popular with audiophiles and people who like playing with old radio equipment, particularly ham radio operators with a bit of nuclear war paranoia...

Or guitar players that realize a tube amp sounds better than 95% of solid-states.

Re:supposedly obsolete tech (1)

Captain.Abrecan (1926372) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054840)

Does it really? I am looking for a new amp, and I am on the fence. Mostly because I am having a hard time finding tube amps. Could you recommend I place where I can acquire one?

Re:supposedly obsolete tech (1)

EraserMouseMan (847479) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054888)

Just google "Apple". The right product will have a little glowing apple logo with a bite out of it. Trust me. They make the best stuff.

Re:supposedly obsolete tech (1)

lowlymarine (1172723) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054416)

Okay, the vinyl records, CRTs, incandescent light bulbs, and even the typewriter I can understand. But what could you possibly still be using that has vacuum tubes in it?

Re:supposedly obsolete tech (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37054444)

Guitar amps and bass amplifiers, and preamps for vocals, for their nice distortion.

Re:supposedly obsolete tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37054452)

Guitar amp

Re:supposedly obsolete tech (2)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054458)

what could you possibly still be using that has vacuum tubes in it?

Amplifier?

Though most people who 'use' those, just 'use' it as a conversation piece.
e.g. http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volume_6_4/images/manley-stingray-amplifier.jpg [hometheaterhifi.com]

Re:supposedly obsolete tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37054534)

Shows how little you know about music and amps. I know many musicians that use tube based amplifiers because they prefer the rich sound they produce. Not so they can sit idly around and chat about them.

Re:supposedly obsolete tech (1)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054710)

No, it shows how much I know about *most people* who have one in their home, especially as depicted in the image I linked to. The average person is not a musician or a "rich sound" kind of guy/gal, and those who are would have one in a proper case.

Re:supposedly obsolete tech (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054756)

Uh, tube amps are popular because they sound better, not because we want to sit around and talk about it.

Re:supposedly obsolete tech (1)

lucm (889690) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054822)

> Though most people who 'use' those, just 'use' it as a conversation piece.

Like a iPad at Starbucks?

Re:supposedly obsolete tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37054466)

Hmm, how about tube amplifier??

Re:supposedly obsolete tech (4, Interesting)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054474)

Your microwave. Ok it is a magnatron, but still its a vacuum device (electrons in a vacuum). But vacuum tubes are far from obsolete.

Re:supposedly obsolete tech (2)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054488)

I'm going to respond to your comment and say "amplifier", without reading the seven responses your comment already has, which I'm sure mine won't be duplicating. This is how to post well, right?

Re:supposedly obsolete tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37054526)

you missed the point. nobody gives at rats arse about junk you've collected. it's only interesting if it's still a major market for new products. there will still be a pc or 4 in nearly every geek household for a while to come, but the money is elsewhere

Re:supposedly obsolete tech (2)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054690)

But it's not at all far-fetched to imagine (or even FIND) millions of people without any of those things in their house, even in the first-world countries. I can probably name half a dozen close friends for whom it's true, and I'm only in my thirties.

I have only CRT (because I'm too cheap to buy an LCD when I have something that works, and like my 4:3 ratio on my TV, and use my laptop for more than my TV), and incandescent lightbulbs (slowly being replaced as they blow with energy-savers because a) I'm not going to replace them UNTIL they blow, b) energy-savers are cheap and c) they light enough for my purposes so I don't notice any functional difference).

I have NEVER owned a vinyl record in my life. Not once. I barely used cassette tapes outside of computer games. I was brought up on CD's. Even the only tapes I have in my possession are for the ZX Spectrum - I've not used them in the last 20 years at least.

I have typed on a typewriter and find it painful and inconvenient and can't name a single other person who actually USES one (my father-in-law is a professional children's author and he's used Word for the past decade at least). A couple of people I know have one in the attic but that's about it.

I only know vacuum tubes from one that a worker at Bletchley Park gave my brother (that was part of their reconstruction of the famous machines there). I've never used one, don't own one (except hidden in other more modern devices where the definition is REALLY stretched to include them), never made a circuit with one, and only know of one electronics supplier that can actually sell them to you in anything less than 1000's.

And PC's are in the same sort of categories - few people have a desktop PC nowadays. Everyone has laptops or smartphones or netbooks. The desktops that are about are either specialist (gamers, overclockers, research), business (where space and portability aren't an issue), or just plain old.

The article is right - the only thing it misses is that a laptop IS a PC - just what the PC would have been if we could have afforded it from the start ("Hmm, shall I design a small personal computer that everyone has one of, or a huge thing that can't be moved that are shared one to a family because of their expense/size").

Re:supposedly obsolete tech (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054720)

Trebek: WRONG!

ME: Uh...things that have been replaced with objects which are cheaper but in every single other possible way inferior?

Re:supposedly obsolete tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37054862)

Trebek: "Archibald Leach, Bernard Schwartz and Lucille LeSueur".

Cliff Claven: "Who are three people who have never been in my kitchen?"

Re:supposedly obsolete tech (2)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054856)

Me: "I'll take supposedly obsolete technology for $200" Trebek: "the vacuum tube, typewriter, vinyl records, CRT and incandescent light bulbs" Me: "What are things I have in my house" *DING DING*

While in understand your point - I still have those as well, I think your comment misses the articles point:

The PC, as we used to know it - a big box that runs an OS and is not very portable and ties you to specific data storage locations and programs, is on teh way out. It is being replaced by smaller, portable devices that perform the same functions (which still are important) but using different technologies and in some ways a completely different a paradigm of ow we accomplish a task.

We still do the same things but what we use to do them changes - using your example, I still:

have a TV (but instead of a vacuum tube monster it uses solid state circuity); write letters (but with a Word processor and not a typewriter); listen to music (except it's digital not analog 90% of the time); look at a monitor (but solid state not cathode ray technology); and illuminate my room (more and more with low power bulbs rather than incandescent).

I think the real point is as technology changes previously ubiquitous things that are used to perform functions get replaced by newer things that do the same functions.

That doesn't mean the old tech is useless, it may even be better than what replaced it, but it becomes relegated to niche markets as mainstream users move to the new technology.

Vacuum tubes produce a unique sound that digital doesn't replicate - but for 99% of the market the reliability and low cost of solid state audio was good enough and so replaced tubes as the dominate product. Still, McIntosh, while a tiny part of the market, survives for those that want a different experience. All though they have gone solid state as well; but I would suppose with tighter specs than the mass market stuff.

Sometimes, even when the new stiff is better the old sticks around because it performs a task that the new tech doesn't - which is while dot matrix printers are still her as well as typewriters and fax machines.

Of course, in some cases the new tech still can't do everything old tech can - look at the pencil, for example.

Re:supposedly obsolete tech (1)

lucm (889690) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054868)

I would have said: what are obsolete things that phony people say they still use?

Nahhh... Never Happen (5, Insightful)

rtkluttz (244325) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054442)

Nahhh.. Never happen. Smaller more portable devices are coming and filling in the gaps and taking market share, but there will always be power users who need as much power as can be fit in a form factor about the size of a PC and that power will keep increasing just as it always has.
Pundits just WANT the PC to go away because they realize they screwed up in that early product cycle by giving all the power to the users. Users have the ability to change anything or do anything they want and can un-cripple anything they do to that class of devices. They want to introduce something shiny and new that is locked down and sealed box like smart phones where they can cripple them and sell the features back to you piecemill.

Affordable (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054500)

there will always be power users

But with tablets allegedly eroding the economies of scale of the home PC market, how long will individual hobbyists still be able to afford new PCs?

Re:Affordable (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37054554)

Okay, seriously? You mean to tell me you can't fathom people spending gobs of cash on some bad-ass box when they're spending 4-500 on things the size of our hands!? Please...

PCs aren't going anywhere and the idiot who made the original comment about this is some moron who has his head in the cloud a bit too much.

Re:Affordable (4, Funny)

Destoo (530123) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054714)

PCs aren't going anywhere and the idiot who made the original comment about this is some moron who has his head in the cloud a bit too much.

*squint* .. I see what you did there..

Tablets are eroding the economy of scale of PCs? (1)

brokeninside (34168) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054594)

How do you figure that? By and large they have the same components. The only piece where they really differ is the case.

Re:Tablets are eroding the economy of scale of PCs (3, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054764)

How do you figure that? By and large they have the same components.

And a retail video game console "by and large" has "the same components" as a debug console that mainstream video game developers use. One just has different binary signing keys, is much harder to buy, and is much more expensive.

After decades of race to the bottom competition to make low-margin PCs, the race to the bottom will end up shifting to tablets running Android Ice Cream Sandwich, allowing price pressure on PCs to relax. Then PCs will become a luxury item that not everyone feels a need to own. The new feature of iOS 5 to make it independent from iTunes is one step toward end users not absolutely needing a PC. I guess the real test of my hypothesis will come in the next version of Mac OS X after Lion: whether not Apple will choose to continue to make XCode upgrades available for $5, or whether the Mac SDK will become a $99/year subscription like the iPhone SDK.

Re:Affordable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37054628)

Seeings as where my last PC I bought had much more power and about 150 times the amount of storage as compared to the a comparably priced iPad, not to mention a keyboard and mouse?
 
I'll start believing in the end of the home PC when home servers with seamless tablet management and syncing become a reality. It might be doable today but not at a price point that can beat buying a tablet and PC off the shelf of Best Buy. And this is really a technology I don't see overtaking the market in the next decade.
 
Data plans from wireless carriers are increasing in price and tablet store capacity is increasing at a snails pace. This doesn't bode well for the tablet only user.

Re:Affordable (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054786)

Data plans from wireless carriers are increasing in price

Tablet makers' answer: Then buy a data plan from a wired carrier and use Wi-Fi on your tablet.

Re:Affordable (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37054836)

But with tablets allegedly eroding the economies of scale of the home PC market, how long will individual hobbyists still be able to afford new PCs?

Tablets are a fad. It should be no surprise that some of the best selling accessories for the iPad et al are stands and keyboards. Some of those keyboards even include a touchpad mouse. It should also be no surprise that the best selling apps (that are not games) for the iPad et al are productivity applications like PDF readers, word processors, spreadsheets, and presentation managers. The customer basically wants a laptop with a long battery life and a shiny factor amped to 11. Maybe a detachable screen. Tablets don't make sense because by the time you've gotten all the features back in you can get, it is the cost of a pretty high end laptop or extremely high end desktop.

I also strongly suspect we may yet see a resurgence in the home desktop. I've been a laptop only guy for 6 years. I just recently set up a "family computer" desktop. I'm amazed at how much my productivity increased sitting at a desk. I'm also amazed at how much faster the previous generation desktop is compared to the current generation laptop. (I do tend to be a bit cheap when it comes to laptops though.)

Finally, business will keep the desktop alive and well. Every business I've been in the majority of the computing devices at the company are desktops.

It will be as the OP suggested, there will be an expectation of "well why can't I?" This question has killed many technological has-beens in the past, regardless of their success at the time, they didn't last long. Remember the internet appliances of the late 90's? The H/PC? The Pocket PC? Even the EEE PC running gimped Linux? Of course the PC has to be functional in its form factor, which is why we don't see things like the UMPC anymore. I don't think we'll see any long term break in the laptop/desktop form factor except where I noted we may see a laptop with a detachable screen.

Re:Nahhh... Never Happen (1)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054540)

Nahhh.. Never happen. Smaller more portable devices are coming and filling in the gaps and taking market share, but there will always be power users who need as much power as can be fit in a form factor about the size of a PC and that power will keep increasing just as it always has.

Yes, there are power users out there. And they will, indeed, continue to demand things from their computers that the typical user does not. But that's pretty much irrelevant.

The quote is: "going the way of the vacuum tube, typewriter, vinyl records, CRT and incandescent light bulbs. And that's not far from the truth.

Yes, people still use vacuum tubes, typewriters, vinyl records, CRT's, and incandescent lightbulbs. But I'd argue that with the exception of lightbulbs, they're all seeing dramatically reduced usage these days. All of them (with the exception of the lightbulbs) are falling by the wayside, becoming niche or nostalgia products. The average person doesn't use vacuum tubes, typewriters, or vinyl records in their day-to-day lives. They might use a CRT, but only because it hasn't been replaced with an LCD yet.

Similarly, for the average user, the need for a PC is dramatically shrinking. Folks who just want to do email, surf the web, watch things on YouTube, spend time on Facebook... They don't need a PC for all of that. They can get by with a phone or a tablet or something. And the power of those devices is only going to increase.

Re:Nahhh... Never Happen (2)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054580)

When is a tablet a PC and when is a PC a tablet? To me its all marketing speak to hide the fact that PC just got a lot more portable.

Re:Nahhh... Never Happen (1)

whiteboy86 (1930018) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054696)

By saying "PC" I think they meant the desktop PC with the separate monitor and the keyboard/case and not some wearable "Personal Computer" of the future.

Re:Nahhh... Never Happen (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054598)

Pretty much every office worker will want a large display, keyboard and mouse.
The size of the box holding the computer parts is irrelevant to even the most demanding user, unless that particular power user is still using a room sized mainframe ofcourse.

Re:Nahhh... Never Happen (4, Insightful)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054828)

At home, perhaps. But for business? There's no way a tablet or a phone could suit the needs of a business user, putting together things like presentations, spreadsheets, etc. Let alone working with tools that keep everything going.

And as long as people still have that kind of stuff on their desk at work, they're going to ask why they have to make do with a tiny screen to do that stuff at home. Perhaps the PC as we know it is going the way of the dodo, but a screen with an operating system and some kind of input device (keyboard/mouse/etc.) is not going anywhere. For one, it's really not possible to type at a decent speed using a touch screen like on an ipad... no tacticle response. Bluetooth keyboards are well and good, but there's an input lag that will screw with anybody who types faster than 80wpm or so.

So yes, perhaps the PC as we know it is going the way of the dodo. But I doubt very much that things like laptops, particularly portable light-weight laptops, are going anywhere any time soon. Perhaps when we see more devices like the Asus eee transformer in larger more usable screen sizes, we'll start to see a traditional PC disappearing, but I doubt we'll ever see a transformer like that with a 15" or 16" screen, because it kind of defeats the point of having a tablet.

Re:Nahhh... Never Happen (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054596)

But general users will probably be just fine with a (cell phone and/or a tablet) + dock, the latter for the cases they need to write a report or something, and would rather have a keyboard than touch screen, or want to play their games on a bigger screen.

The desktop won't go the way of the dodo, but it will become an endangered species, and the notebook will probably do so not long after. The one thing I can see revitalizing either market beyond a niche, is desktop/notebook docks, which you plug your phone or tablet into and gives them some extra power - the phone/tablet acting as a primary HDD, and the notebook/desktop acting as a backup, and extra CPU/memory. Even then, I'm not sure, with people so happily moving to online data storage and applications.

Re:Nahhh... Never Happen (1)

justsayin (2246634) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054694)

I have to agree with you, that seems to be the pattern. Those little shiny devices are so cute and hard to screw up. If they die you just go get another one. Personally, one of my older PCs just blew it's hard drive and it truly is a pain in the butt to dig up that old CD with XP Home on it and re-install the OS on a new drive and find the damn key so you can register it with the Borg. ... Just saying between visiting the local PC junkyard to find a nice little SATA drive on the cheap and install it and do all the Windows patches,... I have seriously considered replacing this PC with an Ipad or something simple because all it does is connect to a flat screen and let the wife watch Netflix or You Tube or listen to Spotify. There is a place for these little shiny devices and they will replace a lot of pain in the butt PCs.

Will they make PCs obsolete? Not any time soon. Can't install Pro-E on an Iphone. Engineers still need to do thermal modeling.

So, if someone like me who supposedly knows how to fix these PCs gets tired of it and starts to consider dropping it in favor of a shiny-shiny, maybe normal people who dont have a clue how to fix a PC will flock to this new tech in droves.

Cheers.

Re:Nahhh... Never Happen (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054880)

Pundits just WANT the PC to go away because they realize they screwed up in that early product cycle by giving all the power to the users. Users have the ability to change anything or do anything they want and can un-cripple anything they do to that class of devices. They want to introduce something shiny and new that is locked down and sealed box like smart phones where they can cripple them and sell the features back to you piecemill.

I would argue it's not the "pundits" that would like very much for PCs to go away, but the movie, gaming, software, and music industries, as well as governments.

It's the "general purpose computer" part they don't like, I agree.

A general purpose computer allows users to do things these power centers don't like and can't control, and/or can't anticipate well. They allow things like Anonymous, Wikileaks, TOR, Bittorrent, and Freenet just to name a few.

It's one area both governments and many powerful business sectors can agree on...removing power, freedom, and flexibility from the masses, to them, is a good thing.

They tried floating "Trusted Computing" and that type of obviously intentionally restricted/crippled system was fairly roundly rejected. So, they got smart and got some marketing brains together and found that if they could tie the reduced power, freedom, and flexibility to "ooh, shiny!...and SMALL!!", they stood a good chance of succeeding in shifting the momentum towards largely removing the power, freedom, and flexibility of the general-purpose computer from the hands of much of the general population without the population realizing what is happening until it's far too late to change the direction of the technology shift.

Strat

Everyone has an agenda (1)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054456)

Like any other issue where businesses are involved, it depends on whom you ask. Microsoft will obviously say the PC isn't dead, as most of their income depends on it. Apple will say the PC is dead (but not the Mac). Mobile device makers will say the PC is dead.

The real problem is that not many businesses nowadays depend solely on PCs for their income.

Accounting and marketing departments (3, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054486)

not many businesses nowadays depend solely on PCs for their income

But they do depend on PCs to count their income and to make promotional material to sell their products to make income.

Macs (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37054490)

But perhaps in the future we will consider a personal computer anything a person does computing on — whether that be laptop, tablet, smartphone, or something that hasn't even been invented yet.

Like macs? Please for the love of gods, can we please refer to them as PCs? They are fracking personal computers!

Re:Macs (1)

Stenchwarrior (1335051) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054642)

A-fracking-men. I'm surprised Apple hasn't done a bit about this, actually. Like, by calling them PE's for Personal Experience, or some such shit.

Off-topic, I know.

Re:Macs (2)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054700)

Someone: What's that?
Mac Owner: It's my Mac.
Someone: Nice PC.
Mac Owner: It's not a PC, it's a Mac.
Someone: What's the difference?
Mac Owner: The difference is that it's a Mac and not a PC.
Someone: Is it yours?
Mac Owner: Yes.
Someone: It's your computer?
Mac Owner: Yes.
Someone: Yours personally? You own it?
Mac Owner: Yes.
Someone: So it's your personal computer but not a personal computer?
Mac Owner: Exactly. Now you get it.

Re:Macs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37054730)

Sigh, I wish people would learn a little history before ranting about things like this.

The modern day "PC" was originally the "IBM Compatible PC" which was abbreviated "PC"..

Similarly the "Mac" was originally "Apple Mackintosh" which got shortened because it was the only thing that wasn't an "IBM Compatible PC".

The Mac/PC terminology is simple abbreviation of their respective proper names, not some crazy marketing thing someone dreamed up to single out Apple from every other personal computer.

Dumbest Prediction Ever? (4, Informative)

shellster_dude (1261444) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054510)

The "post PC" age is not upon us. Small computers and cellphones largely do what PC's used to, but they don't even come close to being capable of handling high-end gaming, graphic editing, movie editing, sound editing, and heavy mathematical computation. Small computers also aren't particularly convenient for software development in general. Unless the landscape radically shifts those items aren't going away anytime soon.

Someone is just trying to get a little press buzz and desparately hoping the world takes notice of them.

Re:Dumbest Prediction Ever? (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054578)

Small computers and cellphones largely do what PC's used to, but they don't even come close to being capable of handling high-end gaming

Which home users tend to do on dedicated devices such as Xbox 360, PLAYSTATION 3, and the forthcoming Wii U.

graphic editing

Doable on an iPad according to Google [google.com].

movie editing, sound editing, and heavy mathematical computation [and] software development

Which, as I understand it, most home users tend not to want to do in the first place. I fear that PCs will become something that only a business buys.

Re:Dumbest Prediction Ever? (1)

grumling (94709) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054740)

Yes, you can edit movies on a tablet, but how easy is it?

Hell, typing on a tablet, even with a dock or BT keyboard is still a frustrating experience. I know because I'm doing it now.

Re:Dumbest Prediction Ever? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37054852)

Small computers and cellphones largely do what PC's used to, but they don't even come close to being capable of handling high-end gaming

Which home users tend to do on dedicated devices such as Xbox 360, PLAYSTATION 3, and the forthcoming Wii U.

Only the casual gamers. At a first glance consoles replaces computer games but if you look at the player demographic and how they spend their time there is actually more people playing electronic games now. The consoles have just replaced the deck of cards that were used before.

graphic editing

Doable on an iPad according to Google [google.com].

In theory and as a demonstration. It is not the convenient and preferable way to do it.

movie editing, sound editing, and heavy mathematical computation [and] software development

Which, as I understand it, most home users tend not to want to do in the first place. I fear that PCs will become something that only a business buys.

I am surprised that you didn't put graphic editing in the same category since most home users don't do that either.

In practice the portable devices has only replaced traditional desktops for idly browsing the web.

Re:Dumbest Prediction Ever? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37054816)

Not to mention that you need something comfortable to develop applications for non-PCs. I don't want to peck away at a small or virtual keyboard with a 4 inch screen to write code.

those are your examples? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37054818)

high-end gaming, graphic editing, movie editing, sound editing, and heavy mathematical computation. Small computers also aren't particularly convenient for software development in general.

In other words, the PC is a niche device for a few specialized, high-end uses that 90% of the population doesn't do at all.

  Sounds like the post-PC age is upon us.

A better argument would be that PCs are cheaper and yet have so much more potential functionality compared to current mobile devices. That one will at least hold up for a few years.

Re:Dumbest Prediction Ever? (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054820)

Sure, and we still produce and use vacuum tubes, CRTs and all the other things he mentioned. Even buggy whips. But they're niche markets. High end gamers, heavy number crunchers, etc. are niche markets. The PC market, particularly desktops, has stopped growing and has been shrinking for a while now. More and more people (and businesses) are using netbooks, smart phones and tablets for their routine computing, and it's a trend that will likely continue in the future. The PC isn't going to disappear any time soon, but it is headed towards being a computing minority.

Personal computers (2)

DragonHawk (21256) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054518)

From TFS: "But perhaps in the future we will consider a personal computer anything a person does computing on..."

That's what the term "personal computer" means in the first place. Person. Computer. It's not that big a leap to get from where we are to... where we are.

Define "compute" (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054608)

Person. Computer. It's not that big a leap

A dictionary defines "to compute" as "to calculate" [reference.com]. How is it "calculating" to read articles over the Internet? Sure, there is calculation involved in laying out the boxes on a page styled with CSS, but that's hidden from the user.

Re:Define "compute" (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054748)

How is it calculating to punch numbers and symbols into a calculator to get a result? Sure, the calculator is doing math, but that's hidden from the user.

Re:Define "compute" (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054772)

The page is still calculated from the data transferred. It's not as if the site providing the article is prerendering everything and then send it uncompressed to the viewport. So different than a book, where every page is finished and stored for ever, the pages of a webserver are indeed calculated every moment you view them. And most people are aware of that, because they know that pages change their layout on the fly if one resizes the browser window.

Re:Personal computers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37054858)

Personal computer means a computer that isn't timeshared.

PC is like the mainframe (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054520)

Both will never go away.

Corporations like the bulky desktops because they can be managed and repaired and are not easily stolen. Old apps decades old will keep it like the mainframes that are still being run today. MS is like the IBM of the 1990s today and are in trouble.

MS is still in denial. But of course if IBM is right MS is screwed and why admit that. Even if Windows Mango is a great Phone OS it doesn't matter as they no longer set the standards or create lockin or slow the whole industry down to best help Microsoft. Infact, Apple is the new evil MS today but thankfully with Andriod there is hope.

The generation Ys and the millinium generation who browse slashdot do not realize how much power MS and the PC standard had back in the 1990s and even today. This is why no commercial desktop software exists for Linux. On the phone it is totally different thanks to not a single company trying to manage everything. Apple got very close before Andriod came to the rescue

Re:PC is like the mainframe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37054704)

These same posts have been showing up about MS for the past 10-15 years. yet year on year their sales grow not shrink, their profits continue to grow not shrink. Also while desktop is a large chunk of their income, While people like yourself focus on the desktop and its diminishing value they have been busy massively growing other divisions, Server and tools now is about equal to their desktop revenue, you could completely remove the desktop and Microsoft would still be a massively profitable company.

gigantic laptops are making it fuzzy (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054528)

I could see the specific form of a PC tower (ATX/microATX board, etc.) being on its way out. But what constitutes a "laptop" has been expanding in both directions, to the point where it's a bit of an incoherent category. On the small end, you have netbooks, which are sort of in the process of eventually merging with tablets and handhelds as well. But on the other end, you have gigantic luggables, which are sprouting more weight and expansion slots. I wouldn't be surprised if, within a few years, they start having external screw-in or snap-on mount points for extra hard drives.

The decline of civilization (3, Insightful)

superdude72 (322167) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054550)

The PC will not be obsolete as long as there are still a few people around who actually *do some work*, rather than just consume entertainment.

Re:The decline of civilization (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054626)

The PC will not be obsolete as long as there are still a few people around who actually *do some work*, rather than just consume entertainment.

I agree with you. But a divide between devices for consuming entertainment and devices for doing some work raises a barrier to individuals who would try creating for once [pineight.com].

Re:The decline of civilization (1)

boristdog (133725) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054632)

Exactly. Every desk in every office in the world generally has a PC on it. Granted, many are docked laptops, but they are PCs.

Re:The decline of civilization (1)

Kelbear (870538) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054736)

I agree, there will always be people who really need the capabilities granted by a stationary PC.

The summary's proposition of: "But perhaps in the future we will consider a personal computer anything a person does computing on — whether that be laptop, tablet, smartphone, or something that hasn't even been invented yet." seems quite reasonable to me though. Given the inherent breadth of applicability of the term "personal computer" and the growing practicality of portable computing, I think this sort of shift in recognition will come sooner rather than later.

I would very much appreciate better unification between my desktop, laptop, and smartphone platforms for a seamless experience.

Eh? (2)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054560)

Why is a laptop not a PC?

It's a personal computer (you can't get more personal than sitting on someone's lap). It has full compatibility with "PC" software and quite a lot of hardware, has the same external ports, has the same keyboard and video standards, and has the same kind of display. It's just that someone shrunk it and stuck a hinge in the middle.

The standalone desktop - sure, that might be on the way out, but what do you think all those SOHO servers are sitting in? A laptop? A 19" rack? Nope. But a laptop IS a PC - it's the PC we would have had 50 years ago if the technology allowed it. If you'd asked someone in the 60's to design a "personal computer", it would have been portable, and come with all the added extras (screen, keyboard, disks) built in - and it would connect wirelessly and run for hours off a battery without needing to be plugged in. That's sitting on most people's desks and in most student's bags nowadays.

Though they'd probably add "all the computers work the same", "they all use the same standards" and "the contents of world libraries and textbooks would be free". You can't have everything though, in a corporate world.

I hate smartphones. They are underpowered computers slapped into a device that has a single primary purpose. I like my general purpose computers for 99.9% of things I want to do and if I want to phone, I Skype or use the cheapest, most basic mobile phone available. The point of the PC (and a laptop) is that is a general purpose machine. The other gadgets AREN'T. I can't word-process on a touch-screen. I can't play 3D FPS on a smartphone. I can't play a DVD on a 2" screen. I can't compile my code on something that doesn't let me run any program I like. I can't even view most damn web-pages/streams properly without having a "full" PC. But on a laptop, you can do all those things and have touchscreen/3G/Skype/a headset etc. if you want.

Sure, it's not practical in every application but the point of a PC (especially a laptop) is that it's general purpose. I can literally do everything a computer can do, without having to juggle compromises.

The PC isn't dead - it's just that one old definition of it has ceased to be relevant, while another newer definition has taken over because it does everything the same, but better.

Everything is going to be obsolete "soon" (1)

Targon (17348) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054566)

BluRay....it's going to be obsolete in 5-10 years when a new standard is released that supports higher resolutions. Oh, cars...no one will be able to afford a car, so in the next 50 years, people will just pay for transportation everywhere with robotic drivers, no need to drive with smart cars. Computers are evolving as well, but in the same way that there will always be a need/desire for more powerful devices for WORK related tasks, and because mobile devices will always be less powerful due to heat related issues, there will ALWAYS be a market for different tiers of computing devices.

The real problem is this trend of aiming for the lowest common denominator. If software developers aim for the lowest end machines out there, with no benefits for those with higher end machines, then there becomes less of a reason to get a higher end machine. All of this nonsense of "cloud computing" assumes everyone will always be online, and with bandwidth limits, that is also a really foolish approach. What we need is for executives who know the business the company is in, rather than generic businessmen/women who know about business management, but couldn't come up with good original ideas that will really improve how things are done.

Probably ... in a distant future (2)

Zen-Mind (699854) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054568)

I'm also sure the PC as we know it will disappear or at least change radically, but probably not in the next 10 years. Their mainstream adoption, in the meantime, will probably fall back to the same proportion as people who had PC in the 90's; people who wanted PC because they wanted a PC, not because it became a common household item and a commodity.

Ultimately, I think the trend will go toward wearable computers and perhaps personal household servers when people realize the "cloud" is probably just that: vapor. You will probably end-up with some kind of G modem on your belt, a display/keyboard on your wrist and an earpiece, all connected to your home-server and/or cloud.

Not over yet, who's fault? (2)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054576)

I don't feel the PC-like (including Mac and Linux) era is over on my side.
My concerns are
- Internet is not available from anywhere
- More importantly, cloud offers do not guarantee that all my data is stored on their side in an encoded way that makes the data understandable (humanly or computerly) only when it's locally on my computer

These are my two requirements.

Oracle's and IBM's Network Computer, anyone?" (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054586)

Wasn't the PC proclaimed dead by Oracle and IBM in the late '90s already? To be replaced by the thin client Network Computer?

You can't take mine on the cart yet, because it says that is isn't quite dead . . .

Seems unlikley. (4, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054600)

It seems rather unlikely.

Vacuum tubes were replaced by transistors which are smaller, cheaper, much more reliable, much more capable of integration and for most applications have superior performance characteristics. Valves don't give you anything extra.

Typewriters have obviously been replaced by something which has all the features plus many, many, many more which are very useful. Again, there is nothing you can do on a typewriter that you can't do more easily otherwise.

Vinyl records. Well, some people still hold on to them. But, CDs are generally sound better, are smaller, more robust, don't wear out as they are played, cheaper due to the small size, hold more audio, don't need to be double sided etc. There are apparently a few cases where vinyl is alleged to be better, and that's probably why they still exist.

Incandescent bulbs haven't gone yet. I, personally avoid them where possible, but they are still cheaper and have a much higher power density than the competitors. They're still around because there is no complete replacement. It is likely that replacements will slowly replace incandescents as their capabilities improve.

So, onto PCs. What is going to replace them?

If you want to write a lot or code, nothing beats a proper keyboard and a large screen (or two). Nothing beats the PC for 3D graphics performance. Nothing beats the data storage and bandwidth (want to do video editing in the cloud, eh?). Nothing beats a PC for the range of peripherals which ban be plugged in. Nothing beats a PC in terms of flexibility. Etc, etc, etc.

Of course mobile devices will start to catch up in some areas, but unlike the previous examples, the PC is a moving target. It will always be 5 steps ahead because the technology is the same but the formfactor allows it.

Short-sighted Lies (1)

damnfuct (861910) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054604)

This just seems like someone making a claim to (successfully) steal a headline. This is just like those that say that mobile phone games are the future of the gaming industry. As far as I am concerned, this is utter bullsh*t and is only a projection based on a short-term analysis of the data. Sure, mobile phones are the fastest growing market for games at the moment, but only because the PC market has reached saturation; this will happen with other platforms too (growth always tops out). Some operations can move off the PC platform (think email), while other operations would be horribly difficult or tedious after moving onto a new device (think extensive word processing, video editing, 3d rendering, or scientific calculation on something like a smart phone or a tablet.. *cringe*)

Phone + big monitor + fullsize keyboard = new PC (1)

rvw (755107) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054620)

I can see a future where mobile phones are powerfull enough to do anything, even for developers and video editors. It just needs a bigger monitor, mouse and a fullsize keyboard in those situations. That's easily provided with wireless connections. Maybe it's not based on PC-architecture (386-like), but I guess that's not the issue here.

Bring back the digital divide! (2)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054634)

A few decades ago, only the most nerdy of people had PC's.
In a few decades, only the most nerdy of people will have PC's.

Re:Bring back the digital divide! (1)

bytesex (112972) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054774)

Yeah. O, and the people who have to do actual typing. But never mind those - they're probably a small minority.

The home PC or the work PC? (3, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054638)

I have a desktop at work. I have one at home but it's a remnant of a bygone era. If I stop being able to incrementally upgrade it I'll get a high-end laptop. Most of what I do I can use my netbook for.

For work, it's the focus of everything you can do. A laptop is adequate but the keyboard isn't as good, nor is the monitor, nor is the trackpad. You can use an external version of each of these but if you're doing that why go for the expense of a laptop?

For the home, a PC needs a place to live. It needs a desk and chair. These take up space. A laptop can be used on any table and packed away and put on a shelf when finished with.

Well, not for now (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054640)

People owning only one computer increasingly have a laptop or netbook these days, if not they run some beat up or low end desktop. I can see a lot of people running smartphones as their only computer in Africa, India in the near future (they don't all need to cost 500 euros and have a fruit logo on them) but only as a kind of cheaper, lower power and limited computing. It's more easy to charge from a small solar panel, and the deeply integrated 3G modem is mandatory for internet access.

With electricity and a better internet connexion? a PC is decently cheap (about the cost of a bicycle), has an easier choice of OS (windows or linux, both updatable), isn't such a moving target and is better at doing CAD, word processing, audio production, web browsing etc. Doesn't lack support for printing, sound cards, network cards and huge storage either.

Nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37054660)

IBM 5150 (running MS-DOS)

Who rights this nonsense? The 5150 ran PC-DOS not MS-DOS. The two are different in EVERY respect that relates to the first two letters of their name and are only otherwise similar in so far as that they are identical. I expected a higher standard of reporting from Slashdot and wish to cancel my subscription.

Corporate talk (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37054676)

The big thing for PC is that it's actually a personal computer that let's the user decide if they want to give information to random companies.

control. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37054686)

Until somebody is going to stream me a fully end-to-end encrypted virtual gaming/graphics/debugging machine i will continue building them myself.

Modifiable! (2)

nicodoggie (1228876) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054744)

The day I stop buying PCs is the day we can easily build laptops and tablet from easily available consumer-grade parts. Probably not even then.

More failed predictions (1)

Pollux (102520) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054750)

As I've read before on slashdot (and it bears repeating), portable devices are excellent content viewers, but terrible content creators. Good luck trying to do any of the following on a phone / tablet: edit the fine details of an image in PhotoShop (let alone find such a device powerful enough to even run PhotoShop), type up a report (attachable keyboards don't count, because then you may as well have a lightweight notebook), edit a spreadsheet, tweak the pixels in a bitmap file, program and debug code, edit video, etc.

Now, that's not to say that there isn't any room for evolution of the PC. I believe there's a good chance that PC mini-towers will go the way of the antique soon. I'd love to see manufacturers make mini-ITX the new case standard, use 2.5" disk drives instead of 3.5", use 35W processors over 65W or 95W, and cut the overall power requirements of a standard PC in half. (For those of you who would argue that that's not powerful enough, then how come notebooks, which have even lower performance and lower power requirements, have grown to nearly half the PC market?) Anyone wanting better video performance can always have a half-height PCIe video card added, and for the 10% or 20% that need something more powerful, they can always resort to a larger case.

So, uh, where does the content come from? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37054754)

If PCs are supposed to disappear and everything will become one of these lesser content-consumption devices, then where is the content they are supposed to consume going to come from? Obviously PCs will still exist just to create the content that goes on non-PC devices.

I am worried, though, that the cost of owning a content-creation system will skyrocket. Today a few hundred bucks gets you in the door with a cheap PC. If OS X continues iOS-ification and Windows similarly dumbs itself down, what becomes the content-creation OS of choice? And how much is it going to cost?

IBM been sure of this for 30 years! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37054782)

My Dad loves telling the story of how IBM told Dow that PCs would never become dominate thus selling Dow a $75K (in 1970s) Mainframe and Dumb Terminals. Yes, IBM has always believe in the power of a mainframe, but truth of the matter is that I personal am still wish my 6 core AMD would blood well move faster. At least they never change there prediction!

Even with Cloud computing I still prefer to remote between PCs and using my own HDDs.....

I'll use anything but my desktop... (1)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054792)

When you pry my actual keyboard and 30 inch display out of my cold, dead hands.

And this isn't a case of audiophile tube bullshit: Actual proper keyboards and large bright displays (that never wink out because your battery just died) are just two of the things that make desktop PCs objectively superior to handheld anything for many tasks (like anything involving text entry and interactive graphics editing).

i dont want itablets i dont want (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37054802)

i dont want itablets i dont want laptop

Content consumption vs content creation (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 2 years ago | (#37054860)

I was thinking about this and while we are likely to see people moving more and more to tablets, I don't think the PC will die out, rather it will be viewed differently. An iPad is great for 'consuming' content, but it is a poor tool for creating content. Sure it can do some content creation, but it isn't really where is excels. A PC on the hand is great for creating and working with content, but for many people it is probably more than they need for the task of viewing content, writing e-mails and surfing the web.

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