WHEN PCR’s editor asked me to highlight some of the changes I’ve seen in the marketplace in the last 20-plus years, in an indulgent 250 words or less, I sought inspiration in some old magazines. Back in March 1983 the letters page in Practical Computing magazine bemoaned the lack of micro computer software for business. However, in the same issue there were adverts from one company that had just started to sell a micro bundled with business software. Like most brands featured at that time Iotec is now long gone, but I was their most successful salesman.
At that time Apple was just launching Lisa with its revolutionary Windows Icons Mouse and Pull-down menu (WIMPs) architecture, and the IBM PC hadn’t yet made it across the pond. Most of the adverts in the magazine were from dealers, not big brands. Just about the only international names were printers such as Epson and NEC. Adverts weren’t multi-page mail order, they were discreet quarter pages placed by local dealers looking for local business.
Roll forward 15 or 20 years and the magazines were packed solid with cheaper-than- the-other-guy adverts for IBM compatibles. Most of those off-the-page brands that seemed so powerful then have now vanished – sometimes along with their customers’ money – as have quite a few of the magazines themselves. But there is a constant among the massive changes we’ve witnessed. Dealers, now more usually known as resellers, are still playing a vitally important role in delivering useful and usable products to users. Long may it continue.