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Quora Answer : What are the biggest tech disruptions to have occurred in the world in the last 50 years?

Apr 30, 2011

The microcomputer (personal computer with a microprocessor at its heart).

Initially considered an underpowered toy compared to the mainframe or office mini computers of the 70s, the microcomputer totally disrupted the computer industry, destroying almost every incumbent (apart from IBM; and that, itself was a close thing), created new giants like Microsoft and Apple (and the idea of a software industry as opposed to a computer industry).

The micro :

  • indirectly spawned Visicalc which transformed accountancy and how businesses are managed, (SpreadSheets)
  • enabled desktop publishing technology (and transformed the magazine publishing business)
  • enabled personal access to public networks (bulletin boards, then AOL etc., then the real internet and web)
  • enabled Google, FaceBook, Twitter, Amazon, YouTube, EBay, Craiglist, Quora, Wikipedia, KhanAcademy, TEDTalks and millions more sites.
  • enabled computer based music production (transforming our entire musical culture - very little of today's music could be made without computers; very few of our artists are not literate in sampling, promoting themselves via the web etc; file sharing and iTunes have seriously undermined the old retail model of music distribution )
  • enabled blogging, which has challenged and fact-checked mainstream media, and brought about a transformation in how newspapers are organized. (Craiglist is playing its part here too, of course)

etc. etc.

See also :

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