Why did IBM fail at PCs?

Why did IBM fail at PCs?

If you ask why did IBM fail, I assume you mean why did IBM ultimately fail in the personal computer market. IBM is still in business, after all. But its exit from the PC market after 24 years, including a period of dominance in the 1980s, does seem curious. And it raises another question: What does IBM do now?

I experienced IBM’s fall in this market firsthand. I sold computers at retail in 1994 and 1995. IBM’s computers at that time were no worse than anyone else’s, but I had an extremely difficult time selling them. Many consumers didn’t trust IBM and didn’t want to get somehow locked in. There was nothing wrong with those machines, but it sure was a lot easier to just sell them a Compaq.

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The IBM PS/1 (or IBM PS1)

The IBM PS/1 (or IBM PS1)

The IBM PS/1, sometimes called the IBM PS1, was a line of 1990s personal computer systems, not to be confused with the Sony Playstation video game console that’s also often called the PS1. The PS/1 was IBM’s second attempt at a mass market consumer PC, after the ill-fated PCjr.

You can neatly divide the PS/1 into two generations. While they ran the same software, they had major philosophical differences. Perhaps more than any other computer line, they represent IBM’s change of heart in the early 1990s as it tried to survive in an extremely competitive and crowded market.

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Lenovo Thinkpad won’t turn on? Fix it easily.

Lenovo Thinkpad won’t turn on? Fix it easily.

If your Lenovo Thinkpad won’t turn on, I have an easy fix. It takes less time than calling the helpdesk, and less time than going straight to desktop support too (which they love, I’m sure). Here’s how to fix your Thinkpad that won’t turn on all by yourself and save. Save time, at least.

It’s a weird trick, but hear me out. It’s very likely this is exactly what your helpdesk will ask you to do, or what your desktop support person would do after he or she arrives to fix the issue.

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The missing Lenovo Thinkpad scroll lock key

The missing Lenovo Thinkpad scroll lock key

One of my coworkers accidentally enabled scroll lock on a Lenovo Thinkpad L440 the other day, which is bad news when you do it accidentally and can’t find the missing Thinkpad scroll lock key.

Recent Thinkpad laptops have no scroll lock key marked on the keyboard, but we found that the <Fn+K> key combination works as scroll lock. On other Thinkpads, it may be <Fn+C>. I found later that the <Fn+K> combination also works on the Thinkpad T440s and T450s. So it’s likely that on recent Thinkpads, <Fn+K> is a safe bet.

missing thinkpad scroll lock
This recent Thinkpad is too svelte for Scroll Lock, SysRq, Break, Pause, and other keys you probably haven’t used (at least not intentionally) in 20 years.

The design decision makes some sense. The public demands ever smaller laptops but still wants full-sized keyboards, so jettisoning keys that some people never use is one way to accomplish that goal. Sometimes I live in Excel for weeks at a time, yet I rarely use the Scroll Lock key. At least half the time I use it, it was accidental. The missing key makes accidents more rare, but it makes them more problematic when they do happen.

Believe it or not, there are some keys you’ll use even less often than Scroll Lock. Lenovo squirreled those keys away to save space too. Here are the other keyboard shortcuts for the L440 and other Lenovo Thinkpads for other little-used keys that are present on a traditional PS/2 keyboard.

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How to add a second SSD to a laptop optical bay

A longtime reader asked me recently about putting an SSD into a laptop optical bay. The idea has crossed my mind–the extra storage is increasingly more useful than the optical drive as time wears on. Thinkpad warriors have been doing this for a long time, though IBM’s caddies were a bit pricey.

It’s not an expensive project anymore, and it’s not limited to Thinkpads either. Read more

Microsoft just priced its Windows 8-based tablets out of the market

Microsoft just priced its Windows 8-based tablets out of the market.

Extremetech reports that they expect Windows 8-based tablets to sell for $600-$900. I think Microsoft is forgetting its history.
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Lenovo and IBM look back at IBM’s PC exit

The Register reports that Lenovo is gloating over its purchase of IBM’s PC division and its turnaround efforts, while IBM doesn’t regret pulling out, at all, even going so far as to call the PC dead. Who’s right?

Lenovo. Though IBM was right to get out–but the PC is only as dead as the television. Old media doesn’t go away quickly. Radio was supposed to make newspapers go away, and it’s only now, 90 years later, that newsprint is hurting. The old stuff adapts and evolves and finds new uses. Some people argue that if newspapers were managed better, they wouldn’t be hurting, but that’s a different issue. Let’s talk IBM PCs.
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Dreaming of a Windows XP CD that recognizes almost all known hardware?

For about a month after a new version of Windows is released, it supports just about any hardware you’re likely to throw at it. And after that, you’re on your own to find drivers for stuff.

I stumbled across Driverpacks back in March, and I’ve finally had a chance to spend some serious time working with them. What they mean is that if you’re willing to do some work, you can make a disc that will install Windows with functional drivers for virtually any computer in existence.

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Upgrade and repair diary: IBM Thinkpad T30

I picked up an IBM Thinkpad T30 this week. People ask me occasionally to keep an eye out for an inexpensive used laptop, and Thinkpads from 2005 or earlier are a good choice because they’re generally well built, easy to find, and most importantly, parts and information for them are plentiful if anything goes wrong.

In the case of this particular model, that’s a good thing.

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