The PC is 30 - but are we any better off?
The PC is 30 years old! On August 12, 1981, IBM launched the 5150 PC. 30 years on, do you feel any more productive?
30 years on, we're carrying smart phones that are thousands of times more powerful, and which can talk to each other on opposite sides of the world without us even knowing about it. We can play Angry Birds, before flipping over and searching for a nearby restaurant simply by speaking instructions.
But are you more productive? Or do you just spend most of your time messing around on Facebook and not actually doing any work?
A phenomenon called the productivity paradox was first highlighted in 1993. A researcher noticed that as the power of computing technology increased, the productivity level of the whole economy seemed to slow down. It didn't seem to matter how many megabytes of storage, how many pixels, or how many millions of instructions per second were placed at our disposal; gross domestic product didn't seen to go up much more than it was doing before.
The more competing choices that we seem to have, the less effectively we seem to do. I have an iPad and an Android tablet, but I must confess that a lot of my time seems to be spent downloading new apps and playing with them. The temptation is always to tinker with the technology rather than doing any actual work, and I have to discipline myself to remember what's important and to get stuff done. Most of the time, that comes down to writing lists on paper, and then typing - which I could have done perfectly well with a 5150 (although admittedly, emailing clients and producing podcasts might have been a bit difficult).
What do you think? Has competing power made you a more effective person, and in what ways? If you have grown up knowing nothing other than computers, can you imagine a world without them?
Danny Bradbury, MSN Tech & Gadgets