On this day in 1981, IBM launches their very first personal computer, the Model 5150. It has everything anybody could possibly want for home use: a keyboard, monochrome screen, two 5.25″ disk drives and 16 K of RAM, with a robust 4.77 processor MHz speed.
The “PC”, along with another beige computer launched three years later, spelled the end of the typewriter era in newsrooms and flack cubicles.
The Washington Post’s Ashley Halsey reminded us recently that the arrival of the computer also marked both the changing of the guard and of atmosphere in newsrooms.
The cigars and the men who smoked them departed with the typewriters. They wanted no part of these new machines. They fled from change that continued in the years that followed. Women and faces of all races became common in the newsroom. Ashtrays and liquor bottles that inhabited many a desk drawer disappeared. Televisions were hung from the ceilings, and when all-news cable came along, they were left on a lot more. Carpeting replaced linoleum, erasing even the come-and-go of shoe leather, but by then the clatter of rushing copy boys was gone, too. Finally, only the TV pierced the silence. But a clicker, and a mute button, restored quiet.
Many of those new arrivals are now in command positions in the newsrooms. Is there another technological revolution on the horizon that will push them out?