25 years of the PC

1981: on 12 August the IBM PC 5150 stomps into the world, costing $1,565. You got a case and keyboard – no monitor or disc drives – plus a copy of Mic

1981: on 12 August the IBM PC 5150 stomps into the world, costing $1,565. You got a case and keyboard – no monitor or disc drives – plus a copy of Microsoft's BASIC programming language.  It had a 4.77MHz processor and 16K of memory. Modern toasters could outperform it.

1985: the first laptop PCs go on sale. They weigh a ton, the batteries don’t last five seconds. Basically, they’re rubbish. It’s a wonder we ever bothered.

1986: viruses start appearing on PCs, created by that most infuriating of oxymoronic characters – intelligent idiots.

1987: the original 5150 model is discontinued. Thank God for progress.

1993: the Intel Pentium processor is born, superceding the old 486 chip.

1995: Windows 95 becomes both the most useful and yet most hated operating system in history. Over-egged claims for Plug and Play promoted disenchanted geeks to rename it Plug and Pray. Just don’t mention ‘hardware conflicts’.

In the same year, eBay launches. When it hits the big time, it causes a bigger loss in workplace productivity than any sporting event ever. Ah, who cares? Hit refresh again...

1996: USB connections surface on PCs, unleashing a whole new market of products. USB fans, USB lava lamps, USB vacuum cleaners...

1999: Napster goes live, and the world shortly afterwards goes download crazy, sharing illegal files like sailors share STDs.

2001: Bill Gates rolls out the current version of Microsoft Windows, XP. Better than previous versions, but still looks like a Duplo house next to the marbled walls of Apple’s OS X.

2006: There are now a billion PCs in operation globally. Underground guerilla movement Apple claims mounting support, with a 12% increase in Mac sales over Q3 of 2006. Apple fanatics still glower when someone wrongly asserts that IBM came to the market first.