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
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
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.