PC WEEK/eWEEK: Chronicler of the PC Revolution for 25 years

By John Pallatto  |  Posted 2009-02-27 Print this article Print

For a journalist, working for PC WEEK in 1984 was like landing in San Francisco in 1849 to cover the California gold rush. Starting on Feb. 28, 1984, PC WEEK followed the introduction of the early PCs produced by IBM, Compaq, Apple and a host of other manufacturers. Today eWEEK chronicles the personal computing revolution that continues to this day with the Internet and cloud computing.

Working as a member of the editorial team that launched eWEEK in early 1984 was a heady and sometimes chaotic time.

Not only were we dealing with the confusion and uncertainty that usually accompanies the launch of a brand-new publication, but we were all learning about enterprise desktop computing as we went along.

When Ziff- Davis Publishing officially launched PC WEEK on Feb. 28, 1984, nobody knew whether the market would have any interest in a weekly newspaper on enterprise desktop computing. Many in the publishing industry were skeptical.

Some of the early staff had experience working with IBM PCs, or everything from Apple IIs to Tandy TRS 80s and Osborne portables. But we were still in the early stages of learning how PCs work in a business environment. We had to prove to many derisive IT managers that businesspeople could use PCs effectively and efficiently in the office. 

In those days, corporate IT meant mainframes, minicomputers and "dumb terminals." Most IT managers told us that PCs were toys that their kids played with and had no place in a major enterprise. But microcomputers and PC software evolved explosively.

Within two years a lot of opinions had changed and those same IT managers were facing irresistible demands from businesspeople to acquire ever more PCs with word processing, spreadsheet and database software. Soon those PC users would be clamoring for access to corporate data stored away on mainframes and minicomputers.

In the meantime, PC WEEK reporters, editors and product reviewers were having a lot of fun playing with some of the hottest new PCs on the market. My first assignment as a PC WEEK feature writer in March 1984 was to produce a buyers' guide on the full array of available DOS-compatible PCs. I frankly felt totally overwhelmed when I realized how many different machines, models and options there were on the market. Our first PC buyers' guide included more than 40 different models that were PC-DOS- or MS-DOS-compatible. A few even let you switch between DOS and the earlier CP/M operating system.

Later we got our hands on the first of the original Compaq and IBM "portables," which were truly more luggable than portable, built as they were in heavy, boxy cases with tiny amber and green CRT screens.

But the first primitive LCD-screen laptop portables that debuted in 1984 and 1985 rapidly evolved into the reliable machines that were a must-have for business road warriors everywhere.

John Pallatto John Pallatto is eWEEK.com's Managing Editor News/West Coast. He directs eWEEK's news coverage in Silicon Valley and throughout the West Coast region. He has more than 35 years of experience as a professional journalist, which began as a report with the Hartford Courant daily newspaper in Connecticut. He was also a member of the founding staff of PC Week in March 1984. Pallatto was PC Week's West Coast bureau chief, a senior editor at Ziff Davis' Internet Computing magazine and the West Coast bureau chief at Internet World magazine.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel