May 28, 2024

About This Section - The PC


This section is based on Module 2 of T171, as presented in 2000. After completing this module, students were expected to:

  • Provide a coherent and informed account of the development of the personal computer;
  • Identify the key people, organisations and technologies who have played a part in the development of the personal computer;
  • Explain the basic architecture of a computer and the functions of its main hardware and software components;
  • Appreciate the cultural context in which technological developments take place;
  • Understand the key business concepts particular to the PC industry;
  • Talk comfortably about the current issues in the PC industry;
  • Recognise familiar trends in new developments;
  • Write a report on a relevant issue;
  • Find and assess relevant information.

The three themes of the module were:

  • Companies.
  • Personalities.
  • Technologies.

The central theme of the module was the microcomputer industry i.e. PCs and not mainframes.

The set book for the module, Accidental Empires by Robert X. Cringely, attempts to demonstrate that the PC revolution was, in many ways, accidental.

Cringely wrote:

"In 1990, $70 billion worth of personal computer hardware and software were sold worldwide. After automobiles, energy production, and illegal drugs, personal computers are the largest manufacturing industry in the world and one of the great success stories for American business. And I'm here to tell you three things:

  1. It all happened more or less by accident.
  2. The people who made it happen were amateurs.
  3. And for the most part they still are. "

(Cringely, Accidental Empires, p4).


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