Death of the PC? Not so Fast
RIP? Not Yet
The received wisdom of the digital crowd is that the personal computer is all but obsolete. It has been, and is being, replaced by tablets and smart phones such as the Ipad and Iphone. There seems to be a mobile app for everything from finding a good restaurant to locating a parking space. Walk down a city street and you see the tops of people's heads ad they glance down at their phones to check emails and text messages.
Don't get me wrong. I think my IPad and IPhone are fabulous instruments and I would hate to do without either one of them. It's amazing the amount of computing power that exists on such small devices. All of these electronic devices are fabulous for managing your time. This article does not pit these devices against the personal computer. Anything but. However, the death of the PC has been exaggerated.
The IPad - Great, but not a PC
Do You Do Serious Work with Your Tablet or Smart Phone?
Getting Work Done
Let's talk about work, about getting a job done. For me, to be truly productive, and that includes just writing a letter, I can't think of a better platform than a computer desk, an office chair, and the three most important productivity tools: a wide monitor, a keyboard and a mouse. The actual CPU (central processing unit) doesn't matter. It can be a big old boxy tower that sits under your desk, or a laptop (yes, I include laptops in my definition of a PC) or smaller device. The actual CPU will continue to shrink in size and that's just fine. All I ask is that the CPU have two or three USB ports for productivity and backup.
Is it an ergonomic thing that makes me sound so retro? Yes, I think it is. Just based on my personal experience, I have concluded that the big three (good sized monitor, keyboard and mouse) are essential for getting serious computing done.
Consider the laptop. It can be viewed as a portable PC. Modern laptops have good sized screens. Some people use a docking station. Just plug in your laptop and it acts just like any computer. But when on the road, I have noticed one thing: I hate the ubiquitous touchpad. Yes, it's great if the laptop is on, well, your lap in an airport. You put up with the awkwardness of stroking the touchpad to move the cursor to where you want it to be. But if you really want to get some serious work done, the blessed little mouse is a gift from above. There's a wide array of wireless mice on the market that can turn your laptop into a regular workstation.
I was on the front lines of the computer revolution. To carry the analogy, I'm not sure if I was a soldier or an innocent victim. Yes, I started computing in the BW Age (Before Windows). My first computer was a TRS80 Model II. TRS stands for Tandy Radio Shack. The operating system was called TRSDOS. After a couple of years I acquired a true PC, running the amazing MSDOS software. Accidentally hit Ctrl F (the simple command for "format") and you would reformat your hard drive and lose everything on it. MSDOS had no use for the mouse, which became essential with the advent of Windows. Of course Macintosh users knew all about the mouse.
Given that we human beings share a few common traits, the mouse and keyboard are technologies that will be with us for a long time. Of course, people suffering from disabilities can make use of the fabulous advances with voice recognition. But if you have all of your fingers and are able to use your hands, the mouse and keyboard are the best devices yet invented to accomplish a huge number of tasks. Drag Drop, Ctrl C and Ctrl V, the argot of the age.
Will the PC as We Know it Eventually Die?
This article will be obsolete in a few years. Nothing slows down the advance of technology. As recently reported on 60 Minutes, there is a technology that takes brain activity and uses it to move artificial limbs. With advances like that I cannot insist that a keyboard and mouse will always be in our lives. Voice recognition software improves daily, and the brain wave software I just mentioned will eventually make the mouse and keyboard obsolete. The death of the PC will happen. My point is that the day has not yet arrived.
Copyright © 2013 by Russell F. Moran