TitleBoston Computer Society Forum, October 15, 1981
PublisherBoston Computer Society
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DescriptionThis forum was unlike anything the Boston Computer Society (BCS)—or any personal computer user group—had ever attempted. It brought together the CEOs of the six largest personal computer companies of 1981 and the largest software company of the day, including:
• Philip Don Estridge, president of IBM’s Personal Computer Division
• Bill Gates, president of Microsoft
• A.C. Mike Markkula, CEO of Apple
• H.E. James Finke, CEO of Commodore International
• Jon Shirley, general manager, Radio Shack Personal Computer Division (later president of Microsoft)
• Peter Rosenthal, president, Atari Personal Computer Division
• Nigel Searle, North American leader for Sinclair Research
It was the beginning of CEOs thinking about personal computing as a large-scale business. Many were looking to learn the lessons of consumer marketing from consumer-packaged goods companies like Procter & Gamble. (You can hear this in Commodore CEO Jim Finke’s allusions to potato chips and panty hose.) All of them realized that weak dealers, lack of product reliability and poor service were huge challenges that were holding back mass adoption of the technology.
Many of the panelists predicted that online services—enabling “email, online banking, home shopping, software distribution, and delivery of information”—would be critical to the acceptance of home computers. And yet no one at the time knew how. Modems were expensive and the World Wide Web hadn’t been invented.