IBM Salutes Apple by Declaring the PC Era Over

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Of all the companies to turn on the PC, you’d think ol’ Big Blue would be last. But no, it looks like one of the engineers who helped design IBM’s very first personal computer three decades ago is celebrating the anniversary (this Friday, August 12th) by announcing something of a paradigm shift: his main computer’s now a tablet.

“Little did we expect to create an industry that ultimately peaked at more than 300 million unit sales per year,” says Dean on IBM’s Building a Smarter Planet blog, referring to the PC biz, but note his verb tense: peaked, as in “been there, done that, time to move on.”

(PHOTOS: A Brief History of the Computer)

And Dean’s sure happy IBM did, writing “I’m also proud IBM decided to leave the personal computer business in 2005, selling our PC division to Lenovo. While many in the tech industry questioned IBM’s decision to exit the business at the time, it’s now clear that our company was in the vanguard of the post-PC era.”

“Post-PC era”? Where’ve we heard that before? Oh right, Steve Jobs, the maestro of magical prognosticating. Here he is, sounding off at the iPad 2’s unveiling in March:

I’ve said this before, but thought it was worth repeating: It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough. That it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our hearts sing. And nowhere is that more true than in these post-PC devices.

“I, personally, have moved beyond the PC as well,” writes IBM’s Dean. “My primary computer now is a tablet. When I helped design the PC, I didn’t think I’d live long enough to witness its decline. But, while PCs will continue to be much-used devices, they’re no longer at the leading edge of computing. They’re going the way of the vacuum tube, typewriter, vinyl records, CRT and incandescent light bulbs.”

Let’s have that last sentence again, because it’s a doozy: “going the way of the vacuum tube, typewriter, vinyl records, CRT and incandescent light bulbs.”

What do you think, Techland readers? Is he prescient or premature? Are we officially in a post-PC era or is it just semantics, i.e. tablets are every bit as much “personal computers”? Are those of us still cobbling together supercharged towers of plastic and metal clinging desperately to a fantasy, as super-powered slates and mobile gizmos threaten to overrun our geek empire?

(via Cult of Mac)

MORE: Welcome to the Post-Post-PC Era

Matt Peckham is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @mattpeckham or on Facebook. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.