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Top 10 PC Programs of All Time

Updated on September 9, 2011

Top 10 PC Programs of All Time

IBM forever changed the course of personal computing by releasing the IBM PC. Software and hardware combine to behave as a computer, but the software provides personality and functionality. The hardware might scream, but the software entertains, informs, and sometimes frustrates. Herein we present the top 10 PC programs of all time.


Early PC operating systems were somewhat less than secure. Spyware became a major problem faster than a 4.77Mhz 8086 CPU. Modern PC operating systems offer improvements, but as long as users insist on logging on with admin privileges, anti-virus software will be standard equipment. AdAware stands out amidst a sea of software in the security sector. It's free and it works. It's unobtrusive and it doesn't cost anything. It's easy to use and LavaSoft doesn't charge for it. It's been downloaded over 348,474,644 times from

DOS 2.0

IBM had a problem. They built a nifty personal computer from off the shelf parts, but they had no operating system for it. For reasons known only to their lawyers, they struck a deal with Microsoft to license a little known product called Microsoft DIsk Operating System 2.0. They re-branded it as PC DOS, but DOS was DOS. The agreement provided Microsoft with a bottomless well of customers and IBM with industry-wide embarrassment.

A popular saying throughout the 50's, 60's, and 70's in corporate purchasing departments was "no one ever got fired for buying IBM." PC and MS DOS dinged that reputation a bit, but no one can argue that the personal computer market was established this way.


IBM standardized the personal computer platform but VisiCalc convinced business users to start using the PC to do real work. Home users embraced desktop computing early on, but hobbyists weren't going to spend the amounts of money sufficient to solidify the market. VisiCalc, written by Dan Bricklin, was the first spreadsheet calculator to run under MS DOS. Given that accountants already understood the value of spreadsheets and spent innumerable hours calculating them by hand, this amazing tool justified PC purchases at the corporate level.


Nothing kills time like killing monsters. Doom offered the opportunity to while away those last few minutes before lunch time exterminating the undead. It also diagnosed vertigo; players learned very quickly how well their inner ear functioned when presented with real-time scrolling graphics in simulated 3-D spatiality. Thousands of Doom add-ons challenged players to hunt demons everywhere from The White House to the local cubicle farm. The game spawned books, movies, T-shirts, hats, tattoos, and at least 4 sequels. It also earned the highest pop culture tribute: a parody in an episode of The Simpsons.

Windows NT

Few home users experienced the power of Windows NT. As Microsoft's first server-based operating system, it moved personal computing closer to a real-world business tool by providing a platform for file sharing, printer sharing, and integrated networking. Sure, Windows 3.11 supported networked peers, but NT Server offered a true client-server configuration. Centralized security features gave warm fuzzy feelings to corporate IT geeks who fondly recalled their days in the mainframe arena.


As Internet browsers nudge ever closer to becoming stand-alone operating systems, FireFox continues to provide new levels of functionality and security. The good folks at Mozilla understand the value of open source development; anyone can obtain Firefox programming. Anyone can add features or repair bugs. Developers around the world add to the Firefox code base. Firefox isn't completely secure, but the general perception among users is that Internet Explorer presents a greater security risk. These days Firefox has acquired approximately 50% of the browser audience. That's a huge accomplishment; Internet Explorer ships with every copy of Windows while Firefox must be intentionally downloaded and installed. On the other hand, Firefox ships with most versions of Linux and IE only runs on Windows platforms.

Borland Turbo C

Borland reduced software development to a price point that made coding accessible to every high school student in the world. $39 bought you a fully featured C compiler (with symbolic debugger) and two paperback manuals. You actually received real books to read. Colleges no longer needed to spend $500 for a Microsoft C compiler. Anyone with a concept and sufficient time on their hands could write software. The world changed.


Although absurdly expensive, AutoCad makes our list of the Top 10 PC Programs of All Time. The drafting industry migrated from drawing boards to huge (at the time) 25" monitors that cost slightly less than a used Porsche. Do they still teach the T-Square any more? AutoCad provided the ability to digitally design a product, archive it on a computer hard drive, transmit it over the telephone, collaborate with other designers at remote locations, and do it all without annoying eraser crumbs. The product also spurred hardware sales like no other software product ever has. No AutoCad user ever has enough processing power or screen space.

Abobe Acrobat

Literally gazillions of documents have been created in the eponymous "PDF" file format. Adobe recognized the value of seeding the market by giving away the PDF reader and charging for the PDF editor program. Most users can open a Microsoft Word document but everyone can open a PDF file.


Few software programs shape the culture of their times. Photoshop may not have advanced society in a productive direction, but it has unquestionably spawned a genre of time-wasting activities. The word 'photoshop' morphed into a verb meaning "to alter a photograph beyond its intended purpose with the intent of embarrassing or entertaining." Nothing you see on the Internet can be assumed to be authentic. Photoshoppers (people who photoshop) exhibit a right-brain skill both terrifying and ingenious. By day they walk among us. By night they devise  unimaginable compositions which reveal their inner digital demons.

HubPages Keyword Analyzer

HubPages authors seeking to monetize their work often rely on the HubPages Keyword Analyzer Tool for accurate metrics. Proper keyword selection proves crucial to effective indexing by Google search engines. To that end, the HubPages Keyword Analyzer Tool provides real-time reporting on keyword placement. The program is slowly revolutionizing Hubbing.  It's free; the current version can be downloaded here.


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    • OpinionDuck profile image

      OpinionDuck 7 years ago


      I liked your response to Aya's comment.

    • profile image

      AARON99 7 years ago

      Thank you nicomp for your encouraging words and being my fan.

    • profile image 7 years ago

      thanks! though not sure how you are defining top?

    • profile image

      AARON99 7 years ago

      Very informative hub. Keep it up.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 7 years ago from Ohio, USA

      @Cheeky Girl: iTunes is a good suggestion. It runs on Windows and Mac platforms and it fundamentally changed how music is distributed.

    • Cheeky Girl profile image

      Cassandra Mantis 7 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

      Some good software mentioned here! Pity iTunes didn't get a look in or iLife. Wonder what you think of some of the Mac software? Any thoughts?

      Great hub!

    • ehern33 profile image

      ehern33 7 years ago

      Do you bring back some early computing memories.. LOL

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 7 years ago

      This was interesting to me.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 7 years ago from Ohio, USA

      @Aya Katz: Absolutely not. They just hire less than competent programmers who work for weak-minded managers answering to self-serving marketers.

    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks

      So, do you think Microsoft has a deal with virus protection software companies to keep its operating system extra vulnerable?

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 7 years ago from Ohio, USA

      @OpinionDuck: CPM used the correct slash, DOS use the backslash.

    • OpinionDuck profile image

      OpinionDuck 7 years ago


      Basically, DOS came from CPM and it inherited all of its annoying limitations from CPM. There was a better DOS than the one that Microsoft bought, but the owner of that company couldn't be bothered with dealing with Microsoft.

      Microsoft also adapted all of the bad and annoying traits of IBM. Like selling vaporware and monkey written code.

      Even today, Microsoft lives or dies on the IO, the Kernel should be King but not in the world of Microsoft. Unix protected its King (Kernel) but not Microsoft.

      The Registry should be called Hackeville.