Harry McCracken’s article about IBM’s introduction of the PS/2 and OS/2 (here on the Techland blog) brought back a flood of memories. It was 25 years ago this week:
On April 2, 1987, at twin press conferences in New York and Miami, IBM unveiled its plans to reinvent the PC industry which it had jump-started less than six years earlier with the introduction of the first IBM PC. The company introduced four new computers dubbed the PS/2 line, including an $11,000 model which it said was seven times faster than current models. The new products were rife with advanced features, including 32-bit processors, fancy graphics, 3.5″ hardshell floppy-disk drives and optical storage.
I was there at the event in New York. It was my first or second week on the job at PC Week. Russell Glitman, a veteran at PC Week and an old pal of mine (we’d previously worked together at a daily paper) took me along for my baptism by fire. I’d just joined from the Boston Herald and was brand new to technology. We flew down on what I think was the old Eastern Shuttle, hit the IBM event, which mostly puzzled me, and then Russell led the way to a fancy Indian restaurant where we wined and dined like princes.
It’s hard to explain to young kids now what a blast those early PC years were. The market was booming. Lotus was the biggest software company, but Mitchell Kapor would still talk to you. Philippe Kahn would say outrageous things and play the saxophone at events. Bill Gates dirty-danced with PR flacks at Comdex parties. Microsoft was not yet big and bad and borglike; they were just Microsoft. Roger McNamee was an analyst at T. Rowe Price. Publications like PC Week and PC Mag were making ridiculous amounts of money. On Fridays our ad sales people used to celebrate by filling the water coolers with margaritas. We spent long afternoons in our cubicles playing primitive video games or sleeping off long drunken lunches. We had affairs with colleagues and did bad things in the conference room at night when we thought nobody was still in the office. We did terrible, ridiculous things at Comdex in Las Vegas.
It was probably the most fun I ever had at a job, with some of the best people I ever knew. And not until I saw that article on Techland did I realize that it was 25 years ago. Tempus fugit, as they say in Portuguese.