Snopes on Ken Olsen

From: Vintage Computer Festival <>
Date: Tue Sep 21 19:21:02 2004

On Tue, 21 Sep 2004, Teo Zenios wrote:

> If you look back in the 70's exactly what would the average person need an
> expensive Apple II or equivalent machine at home for? The only reason the

Have you ever heard of a thing called video games?

> Apple II took of was because of VisiCalc (spreadsheet) and what that
> software offered to businesses. If you look at what most computer users do
> with their machines today (email, www, online shopping, eBay, news, games,
> quicken, etc) none of this existed in the 70's and 80's. The prices for
> machines back then also dwarfed what they cost now (rich tech toy compared
> to a commodity today).

This is silly and specious. There were PLENTY of uses for a computer in
the home back in the 1970s: word processing is just one obvious
application. You are over-looking the thousands of unique uses people
found for computers at a personal level.

> The content, pricepoint, and standardization needed for the PC to become
> what it is today was not around in the 70's and most of the 80's. Having a

That may be, but it didn't stop millions of computers being sold to home
users throughout the 1980s. Regardless of what the market was then
compared to now (which is a useless comparison) the fact is that people
bought computers for the home and used them, whether it was for games or
not. And guess what? I'd guess that the same percentage of people who
buy computers for their home today as did in the 1980s do so for playing

> To me some inventions were designed as solutions for problems (the light
> bulb) while others are solutions in search of a problem ( early PC's). It is
> obvious that the people driving the PC market today didn't have a clue what
> the market today would look like 20+ years ago.

That's just plain wrong. It was obvious from the moment the Altair 8800
hit the pages of Popular Electronics that personal computers were going to
be a huge thing. The problem is that the big companies were stuck in
their bigness and just didn't get it. Hundreds of companies sprung up in
the first years of the microcomputer revolution, all trying to cash in on
the craze. These computers were primarily sold to businesses after the
inital hobbyist boom, but home users steadily increased over the years and
continue to increase to this day.

Sellam Ismail                                        Vintage Computer Festival
International Man of Intrigue and Danger      
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Received on Tue Sep 21 2004 - 19:21:02 BST

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