The Winter Consumer Electronics Show was most impressive, and not solely because of the variety and magnitude of new product introductions for the personal computer marketplace. Tom Halfhill covers these new computers elsewhere in this issue. It may seem self-serving for industry editors to keep saying, "Well, now the personal computer revolution has really arrived...," but there is some historical precedent for these statements.
Let me provide some historical background. The Winter CES is a very old, established trade show. It displays consumer electronics, but isn't open to those consumers. It's a buyers show. It's a fascinating potpourri of gadgets for gadget lovers. The appearance of personal computers and their associated vendors has been recent and swift. My first Winter CES was January 1980. Commodore and Atari were there. I don't recall the presence of a single software vendor. Commodore had a relatively small booth, and three quarters of it was devoted to electronic watches. Crowded back into one corner was a display of Commodore computer equipment. Near the other end of a great hall was the much larger Atari booth... full of video games. One section of this booth too was devoted to the Atari 400 and 800.
Since the winter of 1980, our industry has grown tremendously, and its impact was quite clear this time around. For the first time, a whole section of the massive exhibit halls was devoted to consumer computers. All around were two story exhibits packed with not only the latest from TI, Commodore, Coleco, Atari, Mattel, etc., but also, and equally important, packed with interested, eager buyers.
Hardware itself isn't sufficient, and for the first time ever, this show sported an impressive selection of software vendors. In years past, a single software company (Automated Simulations, now EPYX) persisted in exhibiting.
This year two points were quite clear. The support companies are sharing in the growth and maturation, and are doing so as independents or as merging subsets of far larger companies. So we had numerous software exhibitors, from the independent companies like Brøderbund and UMI to CBS/K-Byte and Datamost (now merged with a venture firm on the East Coast).
1983 will be more than a shakeout year in the personal computer hardware market. It will be a finalizing year in many ways, a year in which substantial allocations of resources are committed by industry giants to tie down their stake in the personal computer marketplace. We hope that the spirit of entrepreneurial independence and innovation continues to flourish and energize our industry.
IBM did not make any of the not expected but widely hoped for announcements regarding their new home personal computer, but a recent Wall Street Journal article indicates the system, with 64K, will be available within the next nine months with a price in the $600-$700 range. We would expect the unit to be formally introduced at the Summer Consumer Electronics Show, with deliveries in volume by August or September. After all, even IBM wouldn't want to miss the spirit of Christmas future. COMPUTE! still plans to expand its coverage to include this new entry.
Some spoilsports have suggested that I restrain myself in constantly "going on" about COMPUTE!s growth, so I'll simply mention in passing that the press run for this issue is getting awfully close to 200,000, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if we break the 200,000 mark with our April issue. We are rather proud of the continued quality of our growth.
Important reminder: We moved! Our new street address for advertising materials, etc., is 505 Edwardia Drive, Greensboro, North Carolina, 27409. Our Post Office Box and telephone numbers remain the same.