The journey from DOS to Windows 8

Wednesday, 31 October, 2012

For the first time since 2001, personal computer sales are projected to fall this year. This means that all eyes are now on Windows 8 with its emphasis on touchscreen input and a grid of dynamically updating tiles that represent apps. The Altair Can it produce the kind of bounce that the ailing PC business needs coming up to Christmas? Realistically, the answer is no. The kids want Santa to put smartphones in their stockings. Laptops and notepads, regardless of how svelte they might be, don’t belong in footwear anymore.

Still, it’s been a great run since that January 1975 cover story in Popular Electronics, which heralded the desktop computer in its most basic form. It was no accident that 1975 was when this revolution began because it was the year when the Intel 4040 microprocessor was released. The 4040 was all a nerd needed to build a computer, and Bill Gates was such a nerd. Along with Paul Allen, he founded Microsoft on 4 April 1975 and 20 years later Bill Gates was the richest person in the world. The key to the treasure chest was the development of the DOS operating system for the first IBM PC, which was powered by the Intel 8080 microprocessor. Such was the incredible success of the mix that even to this day on the Microsoft campus in Redmond one calls “8080” to reach reception. In this way, gratitude is expressed daily.

Within a few years, typewriters, adding machines, filing cabinets, mailrooms and lots of other aspects of office culture had been swept away by this thing called software. And Microsoft was the king of the hill. Despite its vantage point, however, it was unable to see that it was about to be enveloped in a vastness called the internet.

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