Adventures & experiences in contemporary technology
During the 1990’s, personal computing went from being a largely business occupation to one that was the cause of the machines ending up in nearly every home. The home market penetration went from a very low level at the start of the decade to saturation by the time it ended. Such was the success of PC’s that they kick-started an economic boom in my native Éire that lasted a decade and left a very hefty financial hangover.
During those heady days, many newsagent shelves were laden with computing magazines. What helped to pay for the explosion in titles was advertising and some had so much of it that it drowned their actual content. Computer Shopper was the epitome of this back then, so much so that it more often would be bought for perusing the advertising. More than a decade on from then and that advertising revenue has declined yet Computer Shopper still is with us, albeit much slimmer and trading more on its content and reviews than all those resellers trying to sell their wares. In fact, Dennis Publishing seems to be one of the few keeping faith with PC’s since it continues to produce such titles as Micro Mart, Custom PC and PC Pro. That isn’t to say that tablet computers aren’t ignored but the amount of space devoted to PC reviews is more than others in the market. When you consider that such stalwarts as Personal Computer World and PC Plus no longer are with us, that shows some staying power.
In the 1990’s, the main competition between personal computing platforms was between desktop and laptop PC’s. Today, we have smartphones and tablets soaking up the limelight instead. Compared to those more alluring gadgets, it may seem that desktop PC’s don’t have the shine that they once enjoyed but enthusiasts for the devices remain that ensure a continued consumer market, especially in the world of computer gaming and that’s who gets served by titles like PC Format, Custom PC and Micro Mart.
The diversification in the personal computing market may feel a little like a throwback to the 1980’s when there was even more of that. It has meant that desktop and laptop PC’s no longer have it all to themselves and that is causing problems for mainstream manufacturers and software companies. Microsoft’s response has been Windows 8 and that has attracted constant criticism from commentators. Windows 8.1 may be on the way but that is not going to lure those with Windows 7 either. The result is that many UK PC builders offer a choice of both and these are smaller operations than the likes of Dell, which can respond to customer preferences in a more agile way.
Because desktop PC’s aren’t as prominent now, I have decided to start a list of those companies that still make them. A number of these also sell components and peripherals so could end up on the More Computing Equipment page too. The apparent duplication may not be what I normally would do but for the need to facilitate those seeking the desktop PC option. So here are the beginnings of that list that I promised:
Many of what you see above are UK companies with Dell being an obvious interloper and one of the more established names like Mesh or even Aria. The churn that there has been with PC-making companies cannot be denied and there are names that once held sway that no longer are with us. Of the lot, DNUK (or Digital Networks UK) is alone in offering systems with Debian Linux pre-installed and there are other Linux distros on offer too (Fedora, openSUSE, Ubuntu) and they even offer a choice of desktop environment too. With the pressure on Windows desktop systems that there is at the moment, differentiation like that and progression into PC gaming-specific machinery.