by Gary Beach

Long Live the PC

Mar 15, 20013 mins
Data Center

A nasty nor’easter was forecast for our region. After stacking some wood, my 15-year-old and I headed off to the local video store. Braveheart was at the top of our list, and we dashed over to the new releases section of the crowded store only to be disappointed to discover all the copies of Braveheart were rented.

Twenty minutes later while wandering through the drama section, my son sneaked up behind me and said, “Look, Dad, I found it!” It was the DVD version of Braveheart, and he could see from my tepid response that I was not as thrilled as he with his discovery. “It’ll be cool,” he assured me. “I’ll set up the study like a mini-movie theater, and we’ll watch Braveheart on our new personal computer,” he uttered to himself while we waited to pay for the disc.

Watching a movie on a PC was not among my top 10 list of gotta-do’s, but I went along with his scheme. After all, he is the person who turned me on to Napster!

As promised, he rearranged the couch and chair for comfortable viewing on our 19-inch monitor. Ouch, this is going to be a painful experience for my 50-year-old eyes, I thought as I settled back into the chair. The lights dimmed, he booted the computer, and immediately the richness of the sound and the impeccable quality of the DVD on our 1.5GHz computer captured my undivided attention for nearly three hours that evening–and two the following day.

I was thoroughly impressed. Could this be the killer application the PC was destined to fulfill? While having employees watch movies at work will not improve your productivity ratios, I do believe sight and sound are the personal computer productivity applications that will dramatically transform how business is done in the future.

In December 2000, both Intel and IBM announced plans to increase the power of my 1.5GHz PC tenfold within five to 10 years. That is an awesome amount of processing power. That power, when combined with pervasively deployed bandwidth, will enable groundbreaking video and speech-recognition business applications. Do you really like to fly or sleep in hotel rooms? Ten years from now you will be able to hold face-to-face business meetings with colleagues and customers across the country or around the world by flicking on your personal computer. Now that is productivity!

So, those claiming the death of the PC are wrong. Up to now all the personal computer has done is essentially automate common tasks. In the coming decade this machine will really begin to show us what it can do.