30 years ago IBM introduced the world-altering IBM PC. Back then, I was a high-school senior who had very little experience with computers of any kind. I knew of their existence, having in 11th grade stealed away into the math lab to play a “video” game with no graphics, just coordinates and commands you entered in as the computer described the action to you.
For me, this was a wholly unique and new experience and I was somehow captivated. That said, I could never have imagined the role computers would play in the world and my own life. In fact, it would be almost another decade before I owned my first PC (my parents had Commodore 64 and 128 computers in the early 80’s, but they weren’t mine), and it wasn’t even an IBM model. Instead, I bought a clone, an Epson Apex 100/20. The “20” in the name, by the way, stood for 20MB. That was the size the hard drive.
This Epson, which I still own today, runs the operating system that helped launch the industry: Microsoft DOS (it runs version 5, possibly the most popular and well-known edition). It could be argued that without Bill Gates and Microsoft, we might not be celebrating the PC’s anniversary. Think about it, without the software, the IBM PC, and all the subsequent clones built around it, is just a useless, heavy, hulking pile of metal, plastic and glass. DOS was that era’s killer app.