Death of the Desks

PCs have had a good run, but it's over. No, wait, good is the wrong word

Feature by Alex Cole | 18 Apr 2011
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Yeah, I’m calling it. I mean, it’s been called before, but this is The Skinny, so you know it’s true now. The PC is dead.

I don’t just mean that dusty old Dell desktop you fobbed off on your parents. I mean that shiny new MacBook on your desk, the laptop you brought to uni, the gaming rig you built to play Crisis. All of ‘em. They’re dead. You’re witnessing the last few generations of computers as we know them.

And it’s all your fault.

Computers didn’t start out as models of user friendly shininess. They were built by nerds to decode wartime signals and fit inside rooms. Even when the first desktop PCs landed, they only used text, the games sucked, and no one had any idea what they would use one for. Sure, businesses picked them up, but they had money to burn.

Slowly, people found a reason to buy one: games. They were awesome. And then, one by one, came the internet, email, websites, IMs, mapping, shopping, and certainly not porn. Computers finally found a reason to exist in your home, and your life. All that other stuff, like the programming, the crazy hardware and driver setups, the databases – no one really wanted those.

And now that hardware’s finally caught up, with wi-fi and touchy screens, now we can put only those important things onto one device, and take it with us. A smartphone, a tablet, whatever fits in your bag. It does all the things you really need, everything you did on your laptop, if you’re honest, and makes it simple enough for toddlers.

Sure, if you’re making games or apps, editing video, or going on a marathon novel writing session, you’ll still need a proper keyboard and a crazy graphics card. But that’s for people who make things with computers. If you just want to read a blog, post a message on Facebook or watch YouTube, you don’t need any of that nonsense.

PCs started as specialty tools for nerds who had a reason to use them, and that’s where they’re going to end up. You can do everything you really want to on some other toy, something small and svelte that you can lose in your couch. And now you don’t have to figure out why reading Twitter feeds cost you two month’s rent.