Remember when they weren’t called PCs but IBM PCs and IBM Compatibles? Estridge was the visionary who thought about using PCs made from off-the-shelf components and (to IBM techie horror) outside software to create a new personal computer business. He died far too young but should be remembered for what he started.
Henry Ford had his nemesis in Alfred Sloan. Rommel had Patton. And yes, Bill Gates had Steve Jobs as an able comparison. Jobs’ vision of elegant, leading-edge closed systems that could evolve alongside (and often ahead) of consumer demands was in counterpoint to Gates’ idea of innovation by copying some of the best ideas out there.
6Bill Ziff Jr.
OK, he originally hired me at PC Week after a series of grueling interviews and scientific personality testing (guess I faked it pretty well) that would never be allowed these days. But BZ was a publishing mastermind who knew how to put buying audiences in front of vendors anxious to sell their stuff. Without this media channel, we’d still be tapping on IBM PCs.
Before Ted and Gateway, there were personal computers and there were cows, and never the two had met. Was it Sioux City suds that helped Ted come up with the outlandish and incredibly successful strategic plan for Gateway? In any case, Gateway showed that even a Midwesterner could muscle into the PC business.
How about an entire industry devoted to trying to come up with different ways to promote what was essentially all the same boxes? Impossible, you say? No way. The high-tech PR industry gave employment to many people (including ex-journalists) who might otherwise have ended up serving Sonic burgers. Regis built the high-tech PR business.
15Asian Factory Workers
24Sloppy Geeks with Bad Breath and Pizza-Stained T-shirts
OK, so there is only one woman on the list. Two, if you count the Asian factory workers who often are young women with hands sufficiently nimble to plug in components. Anya was the woman in the Apple “1984” commercial breaking down (in my interpretation) the IBM PC business. I think she also represented the revolutionary nature of the PC biz, so she makes my list.