Household PCs continue to evolve

As the home computer market has evolved over the past 30 years, many changes have occurred — changes that have become an accepted part of our daily lives.
“Technology is part of everyone’s lives now,” said Damon Doremus, co-owner of Geek Rescue, based at 8221 E. 61st St., Suite B. “There’s no escaping it.”
Home computing may have been “born” in 1980, but that was mostly because of the Mac, Doremus said.
“However, the Internet is what caused everybody to get a PC in their house,” he said. “Without the Internet, we would not be having this conversation — and we’re doing it via e-mail.”
The Internet does not tie people to their desks, said David Evans, general manager of Aktec Computer Solutions, 3972 S. Hudson Ave.
“At one time, people would carry their machines home from the office,” Evans said. “They’d strap it in their backseat and take it home.”
In the late ’70s and early ’80s, companies developed systems for the average consumer. Computers with odd names like Scelbi, Mark-8 Altair and IBM 5100, and others like Apple I and II and the Commodore Pet computers, were the forerunners. They were expensive, but these machines started the trend of computers becoming common in households.
There was gaming between people, but they were in the same room, Evans said.
“All the computers were hooked together,” he said. “They were not really online.”
Home computing has changed a lot since 1980, but the basics are still there, Doremus said. The milestones generally are based on connectivity and the reliability of that connection, he said.
The Apple Lisa computer was the first with a graphical user interface. Most modern programs contain a GUI, which makes them easy to use and comfortable for the eyes. This commenced the outdating of most text-based programs.
“Having a graphical user interface instead of just words — recall DOS — created an explosion of new thinking,” Doremus said.
The Internet has revolutionized communication and development.
“The Internet has been a huge leap for technology and communication,” Doremus said. “I’d put it right up there with the invention of electricity.”
Then came Moore’s Law, which claims speed for anything involving circuits doubles about every two years.
“Crazy,” he said. “We’re all doing more and more every day.”
Just like the Internet changed how computers talked globally, people will soon see local network connectivity change how their home works, he said.
“Televisions, stereo systems, heat and air, lighting, security systems and cameras all communicate, and it’s not weird to walk into a house that has all of these things now,” Doremus said. “How we interact with these systems is the real change you’ll see in the coming years. Speech recognition is still shaky but is getting better. Moving from a keyboard and mouse to a touch screen environment is a big jump.”
Appliances are beginning to talk to each other and to computers outside the home.
“It’s not that far of a stretch to think about your refrigerator talking to the grocery store to buy new milk,” he said. “These were pipe dreams 10 years ago. Now, it’s actually feasible to do.”
Today, gaming, music and video are the three drivers for home computing.
“That’s what people enjoy doing,” Doremus said. “You don’t see many press reports about how a new spreadsheet program is going to balance your budget or make your grocery lists. People want to have fun and want to do it more with technology. It’s not hard to see why people spend more time with something that puts a smile on their face.”
Evans agreed that music is a major component of the evolution of home computing.
“First it was music on the hard drive,” Evans said. “Now, people are streaming movies and moving them from DVDs to their hard drive.”
The reason is that disk space has become so cheap: one terabyte — or 1,000 gigabytes — for $150 or two for $200, he said.
Don’t bug me
The bug-a-boo in home computers is just that: bugs, Evans said.
“We have seen a marked increase in viruses, spyware and malware,” he said.
Aktec offers network support, computer monitoring, virus removal and a data recovery service.
People think they can run one anti-virus program and they are safe, he said.
“Not one program is capable of catching all of it,” he said.
The solution is running a combination of programs, from Symantec to SUPERAntiSpyware to CCleaner — all for about $40 to $50 a year, Evans said.
“We could eliminate about 40 percent of the infections on computers by just teaching people what to be aware of,” Evans said. “If it looks a little weird, stay away from it. It is like, ‘If it walks like a duck …’”
Paying attention and using common sense goes a long way toward protection, Evans said.

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