The IT Time Travel Machine: 1992

Looking back at our 1992 reader’s poll for “Products of the Year” is quite amusing – but it also offers a cautionary tale for today’s tech professionals.


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The publication you’re now reading, Datamation, has been around – believe it or not – for almost 50 years. Before it was a Web site, Datamation was a magazine. The first issue was published in 1957.

To understand how far back that was, our premiere issue launched one year before Frank Rosenblatt built his famed Perceptron Mark I. This primitive computer included an artificial retina, which, after Rosenblatt tinkered with it, could distinguish between horizontal and vertical bars of light. Pretty wild stuff.

Datamation has stayed on the cutting edge of technology ever since, chronicling everything from IBM mainframes to upstarts like Bill Gates. Long before we were covering Web services and wireless LANs, we were the first word on floppy disks (which debuted in 1971) and RISC-based workstations (Sun introduced one in 1987).

Now, as our 50th anniversary approaches, we’re looking back at past issues of Datamation to see how far the tech world has come. The archived issues make one thing very clear: the closer you get to the present day, the more complex IT becomes.

Consequently, readers need Datamation more than ever to help them stay current. (Okay, that was a sales pitch, but you don’t keep publishing for 50 years without a little hype.)

As we thumbed through back issues, the year 1992 caught our eye. Why ‘92? Because many of the today's top players were lining up for the market battles that still affect us in 2006. And because the successes and failures (especially the failures) of’92 provide guidance for present day IT professionals.

So, if you’re game, let’s crank up the time travel machine and see what life was like in IT not that long ago…

Next page: Datamation’s 1992 Products of the Year: PCs, workstations, software, and hardware.

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