Alpha to Omega to Alpha

Alpha to Omega to Alpha

By George Jones

george01.jpgWell, after 13 issues, I find myself saying goodbye. I’m moving on to run my own business. Rather than recount all the good times and the lessons learned—and rest assured they’re too innumerable to measure—I’m going to leave you with a final thought.

Practically speaking, IBM’s abandoning of its PC business has no impact on Maximum PC’s hundreds of thousands of readers. Still, it was hard not to wince when the originator of the PC—as we know it, at least—waved bye-bye to the business it singularly started. It’s a tragedy, right? Wrong.

Of everything I’ve learned during my stint at Maximum PC, one lesson reigns supreme: The PC is what we make of it. Not what IBM, Dell, Alienware, or even L Computers make of it. No--these guys are all following our lead. “Our” meaning the Maximum PC universe: the readers, writers, and editors of this amazing magazine.

IBM’s original PC dazzled business owners the world over because of its wide-open functionality. You could use it for anything. Prior to IBM’s release of the PC, computers were essentially high-priced calculators—narrow in focus, and built/programmed for a single task. The dynamic nature of the original PC literally changed the world. But after IBM broke the mold with the release of the original PC, the mold somehow was recast.

Today, the PC can perform all sorts of marvelous tasks. Check your e-mail. Play games. Manage music. Surf the web. But while computers are popping up everywhere—in cars, planes, cable boxes, even Tivos, the PC is still… a PC. It still sits tucked into a corner of your home on a desk. And you still primarily use it for only a few tasks. How disappointing. Ten years ago, I thought for sure that by this point in time, the PC and not some “dumb” computer would play a dominant role in my home, my car, my life.

Alas, IBM’s original dream has held true. It essentially remains a productivity device. We can change that. We should change that. Just as the origins of the original personal computer lay in the hackers, modders, and electrical device junkies of the 1970s and early ‘80s, we can elevate the PC’s role to greater heights and uses simply by experimenting with it in different capacities.

The notion of the Media Center PC is just the beginning. I’m already dreaming of automated kitchens, quick self-service garages. Home brewing. And who knows what else? But it starts right here with Maximum PC, and the ingenious tasks and functions we dream up. Hopefully in 10 years we’ll all look back and say to ourselves that the 2004 “demise” of the original PC manufacturer was a good thing, because it allowed us to move on—beyond the realm of PC-as-desktop-device.



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