The Role of The Personal Computer in e-Business

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The other critical element that assisted in the development of e-business
platforms was the Personal Computer. As the PC entered the market
it immediately made a difference. Suddenly. the power of medium-
size minicomputers had scaled to a new level. Early 1985 saw the first
serious PC products to market and their adoption rate was phenomenal.

In the United States. this was exaggerated by early adopters, many
of whom purchased computers as local purchasing decisions. Depart-
merits could make decisions about computers without them being
bogged down in months of bureaucratic effort involving the MIS
department. Apple in particular, developers of the Macintosh, drove
a marketing program akin to a religious frenzy. (Their recent revival
is also based on a marketing strategy where their customers -think
differently" from the masses.)

The PC started a revolution in the development (and the cost of)
software products. No longer was software development something
confined to the mid-range and high-end systems. The PC provided a
new entry point for developers of software, and the leaders in the
businesses understood this trend. Bill Gates left Harvard University
early to take advantage of the market opportunity, Steve Jobs identified
another leading application, desktop publishing for the Macintosh, and
Adobe and many software vendors headed for the start-up capital and
an expanding marketplace.

As all this was going on the market became very polarized for
computer products. Mid- and high-range vendors tried to ignore the PC
and allowed new vendors to build their businesses at an incredible rate.
IBM and Intel left an open door for the PC's architecture (although IBM
tried later to close it with OS/2 and their Microchannel architecture)
and the market continued to grow. New companies such as Dell,
Compaq, and Gateway forged ahead in the marketplace, building PCs
from this open architecture. All of this provided the framework for the
huge market demand.

Organizations now had a collection of productive islands of computing, but needed to leverage them. The answer was to connect their
machines to form a communications network inside the operation.
Bantam and Novell built entire companies around the networking of
PCs and other machines. The world of workgroup computing and the Local Area Networking was born. In retrospect, these became the foundation of collaborative computing. Simple applications such as file sharing and printing provided the foundation of most of those early systems. However, with the entry level for software firms now lower than ever before, the opportunity to develop and distribute systems at a lower cost created hundreds of start-ups to write software for the PC.

The reason that this information is important to the evolution of the Internet is simple. The Internet is a network of computers, and it works in the same way as a Local Area Network, with a few differences. It has an industry standard protocol for communication between systems, and a common language to converse and present data between different systems.


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