25 Moments That Mattered

Major events that have shaped the PC platform--plus some famous flops.

from an article at PC World.com


1. Enter the PC: Okay, it isn't the first personal computer by a long shot. But the IBM PC is the first from a company that's respected by corporate America.


2. Numbers Easy as 1-2-3: Lotus 1-2-3 becomes the PC's first killer app. What makes it a big success? Revolutionary concepts like menus and on-screen help.

3. Clone Wars: Compaq's luggable PC work-alike makes the PC a standard independent of IBM.

4. Freedom From the Floppy Shuffle: IBM releases the PC/XT. For the first time, a personal computer comes with a hard drive as standard equipment.

5. Jinxed Junior: Big Blue tries to enter the home market with the PCjr. With a high price, minimal expandability, and a famously lousy keyboard, the system flops.


6. The Mac Leads the Pack: Apple's Macintosh arrives. PC loyalists sneer at its mouse and graphical interface, but future PCs will grow increasingly Mac-like.

7. Architecture Overhaul: The IBM PC gets redone as the PC AT. The first PC to use Intel's 286 chip, the AT also sports a 16-bit bus and a built-in clock.


8. If at First You Don't Succeed: Windows 1.0 appears--and is widely pronounced a dud. The first version of the operating system is ugly, it can't multitask properly, and it moves like a Jello-encased snail.


9. Two Revolutions in One: IBM's control of the PC market falters as Compaq beats Big Blue to market with a PC based on Intel's cutting-edge 386 chip.


10. The DOS Replacements That Weren't: IBM introduces would-be DOS replacement OS/2 and the PS/2, a PC based on a new architecture called MicroChannel. Neither product makes much of a long-term impact.


11. IBM and Microsoft Divorce: The two giants go their separate ways. IBM sticks with OS/2, and Microsoft puts everything behind Windows.

12. Third Time's a Charm: Windows finally catches on, thanks to version 3.0's improved look and better multitasking. Windows 3.1 (1991) and Windows for Workgroups 3.11 (1993) continue the trend.

13. Office in a Box: Microsoft's bundle of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint changes the way apps are sold, and slowly reduces rivals such as 1-2-3 to irrelevancy.


14. America Goes Online: An obscure online service called AOL arrives for the PC, and you no longer need technical expertise to read your e-mail.

15. College Kid Makes Good: Helsinki student Linus Torvalds develops a Unix-like OS, names it after himself, and gives it away. Geeky types worldwide embrace Linux as their own.


16. Breaking the Sound Barrier: With Creative's Sound Blaster 16, PC sound no longer means a tinny 2-inch speaker. Add the increasingly popular CD-ROM drive, and multimedia is born.


17. A 586 by any Other Name: Stung by a judicial decision that competitors can call their chips 386s, Intel names its powerful new CPU the Pentium.

18. New Technology or Nice Try? Windows NT, the first DOS-free Windows, ships. But it's big and won't run many Windows applications, and Microsoft recommends the OS only for networks and professionals.


19. Point, Click, Surf: The Internet gains mass appeal when Netscape releases its Navigator browser as a free beta.

20. Fuzzy Math: The Pentium gives wrong answers in rare instances; Intel gives free replacements only to folks who prove they need them. Later, it extends the offer to all comers.


21. Like a Rolling Stone: Windows 95's big rollout uses the Rolling Stones song Start Me Up, although it avoids the line, "She makes a grown man cry." Hype aside, Win 95 pushes the platform forward.


22. Built-In Browser: With Windows 98, Internet Explorer becomes part of the operating system. In fact, Microsoft says that it's impossible to remove the browser.


23. Full-Court Press: Presiding over a federal antitrust lawsuit, Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson says that Microsoft "has demonstrated that it will use its prodigious market power and immense profits" to damage competitors. Jackson decides against Microsoft in 2000; at press time, the case is being appealed.

24. Brass Ring at Last: AMD, known for slower, cheaper clones of Intel CPUs, ships its Athlon chip, which outpaces the Pentium III at the same clock speed.


25. Torn Between Two Windows: After years of promising consumers an NT-based version of Windows, Microsoft releases two programs that aren't it. Windows 2000 is still a business OS. And Windows Me is still Windows 95 at heart.

Original PC World.com article
The complete history of the IBM PC
Visit the Computer History Museum for much more computer history
A Short History of Computer Virsuses
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