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30 years of PCWorld, 30 pivotal moments in PC history

Loyd Case | March 5, 2013
Talk about longevity. Thirty years ago to this month, PCWorld published its very first print issue, a 310-page magazine loaded with essential news, reviews, and features about IBM PCs and compatible "clones."

Talk about longevity. Thirty years ago to this month, PCWorld published its very first print issue, a 310-page magazine loaded with essential news, reviews, and features about IBM PCs and compatible "clones."

The content inside the March 1983 issue of PC World was exceedingly quaint--even borderline comical, as the images in our accompanying slideshow prove. But once you take stock of PCWorld's entire 30-year history, you begin to develop a profound appreciation for just how dramatically the PC platform has evolved--and how it has influenced the greater world of consumer electronics, from music players to smartphones to any device that's connected to the Internet and geared toward social sharing.

We commemorate PCWorld's 30-year history with a trip down memory lane, calling out the most pivotal PC-related events and product releases that occurred in each calendar year from 1983 to 2012. Keep in mind that these aren't necessarily the 30 most important PC landmarks of the last 30 years, but rather the biggest highlights in each individual year.

1983

Compaq Portable debuts: Founded during the prior year, Compaq makes its mark on the industry by releasing its first PC--the first luggable IBM-compatible, and a harbinger of the age of mobile computing. Compaq, of course, would become a huge player in the PC industry, only to be acquired by HP two decades later.

1984

PCs Limited starts up: A college student named Michael Dell launches a small business in his dorm room, building custom PCs. His little endeavor is destined to become one of the biggest companies in the industry, getting into printers, servers, and networking gear too.

1985

Windows 1.0 ships: After initially discussing Windows in 1983, PCWorld scarcely gives the software a mention in 1985 or 1986. No one predicts big things for this somewhat clunky visual file-management utility, the precursor to full-fledged OS greatness.

1986

Intel delivers the 386: The first 32-bit PC processor, the 386 offers the ability to address seemingly limitless amounts of memory. (Hah! Yes. Well, it certainly felt limitless back then.) The 386 inspires a new generation of software, including revamped versions of Windows.

1987

VGA arrives: Video Graphics Array premieres along with IBM's ill-fated PS/2 line. VGA survives to become a de facto standard, remaining the lowest common denominator in Windows, and on graphics cards and monitors. Indeed, go check your desktop display. It almost certainly includes a VGA connector waiting for some legacy-standard loving.

1988

EISA appears: Created in response to IBM's proprietary Micro Channel interface, EISA serves mainly to support older ISA (PC-AT) expansion cards. EISA allows PC makers to thrive until more advanced standards (such as VESA local bus, PCI and AGP) come into play.

1989

HTML is invented: Tim Berners-Lee creates HyperText Markup Language. A year later, he uses HTML to build the core of what would become the World Wide Web.

 

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