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Also, check out: "Death of The Corporation""From a Nation of Producers, to a Country of Gamblers""War Is Great. Peace Sucks. Long Live NATO!", "What's a Trill Here, a Trill There...?""More, Cheaper Service Jobs,"  "Two Faces of Globalism", "The Upsizing of America,", "Small Caps Sinking First", "Russia Is Still the Bogey"

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An Annex Computer Report Editorial, November 1983


By Bob Djurdjevic

PHOENIX, Nov. 14, 1983 - It is seven o’clock. The alarm goes off. A heartless beast! You try to swat it, but it is too far out of reach. Grudgingly, you roll out of bed, wishing your day wouldn’t have to start so brutally.

A scene like this is played out in millions of American homes every day, Monday through Friday. At least, that’s the way a day starts in those homes, whose breadwinner is lucky enough to hold a nine-to-five office job. It seems, it’s been like this forever, as one generation of office workers succeeds another. Having an office job and a set routine has become a kernel of the social fiber of industrial nations.

Yet, only a short hundred years ago, people rode horses across this vast land. Railroads were just gaining a foothold in the nation’s economy, and the word "interchange" meant a conversation, an exchange of goods or ideas, rather than a freeway loop. Working nine-to-five, if you basically lived off the land, was something only lazy people did.

In other words, office towers, freeways, subways, cubby-hole apartments, big city congestion - the byproducts of an industrialized society, are all relative infants on the chart of human history. Yet, to city-dwellers who have known no other way of life, the ring of the hated alarm clock is also a security blanket, a reassurance that all is well, that the world is unfolding as it should.

Then, circa 1981, an event took place, which was later to send shock waves through the industrialized society. IBM’s "Personal Computer" was born on August 12, 1981, out of the ruins of the failed 5100 and 5110 "portable computer" programs (I still have to regularly visit my chiropractor for having carried these "portable" computers in the mid 1970’s).

In just over two years, thanks to IBM’s clever advertising, owning a "PC" has become the business version of the keeping up with the Jones’s-syndrome. The fact a lot of first-time users still don’t know what to do with it once they buy it, is also a sign of its relative infancy. But, thousands of corporate users have flocked to it happily, regarding the PC’s as their savior from the long queues for projects previously relegated to the back burners of their DP shops.

What IBM probably did not realize, was the fact that the "PC’s" success will begin to undermine the underpinnings of the very structure upon which the "IBM culture" rests. Its pin-striped suits, modern office buildings, a strong corporate identity, have for years typified prosperity and success.

Moreover, the "PC era" is likely only the beginning of a process whose destructive force will change the shape of Corporate America. The change will be more dramatic than even the strongest and the most militant of labor unions could ever have hoped to achieve. And nobody will have to go on strike, either.

How come?

I suggest that WITH EACH PERSONAL COMPUTER SALE, ONE LESS OFFICE DESK WILL BE NEEDED IN THE FUTURE. That spells trouble for the desk-makers, but also for a whole host of other professions.

Last year, for example, a Vice Chairman of a stock brokerage firm, asked me what stocks, or industries, I thought, would do well in the future? I said I could more easily tell him which ones won’t.

"Commercial real estate firms which have invested heavily into urban downtown office complexes, will be the next ‘smoke stack’ industries to go", I speculated. "But, the residential real estate, by contrast, especially in the Sun Belt, should do well."

On the other hand, new and more fulfilling jobs are being created. As corporate databases are becoming accessible from remote locations, an increasing number of people are realizing the "nine-to-five" syndrome is a remnant of an era whose time is passing. If one can get the job done from a remote "field" location, why then bother to come to the crowded downtown head office at all? Why not try to get it done from one’s home, or a closer office?

This is not a novel idea, of course. Toffler’s "Third Wave" book (1981) predicted this would happen. What is new, is the fact that thanks to the PC’s, the time for such change is today, not tomorrow, as Toffler thought.

Creative people around the industrial world - rejoice! Liberation from the rigidity of corporate shackles is just around the corner. The PC’s will do for you, what the invention of gun powder did for the weak. You will no longer have to have the biggest muscle to wield the greatest power.

But, this thought will undoubtedly strike a fear into the hearts of millions of others, whose morning routine will be so rudely disrupted. Professional managers without employees to manage, government bureaucrats without the forms to fill out, even filing clerks without the files to file, will all feel a trifle uncomfortable having to rely on their wits alone in a competitive world. Yet, that’s just what their forefathers had to do, too. For those who fail to adapt, the old alarm clock will be but a fond memory. Some may still leave it on. Just to be sure to clock in on time at the unemployment’s office computer, using their PC’s, of course.

Does all this sound too far-fetched to you? Let our kids worry about that one?

The text you’re now reading was created in my "office-at-home" on an IBM PC on November 14. From there, the column was transmitted electronically to NewsNet1 , some 2,000 miles away. The electronic edition of this editorial has been "on the air" since November 21 (1983).

Welcome to the brave new world!


Footnote 1: That’s right, no mistake there. NewsNet, based in Philadelphia back in 1983, was a precursor of the "electronic superhighway." And Annex Research was one of the pioneer on-line publishers, putting out electronic editions of our reports on NewsNet as far back as October 1983, about 10 years before the birth of the Internet. Check out our editorial, "ACR Goes Electronic," in the November 1983 issue.

Can you afford not to know such things if you're a global competitor?  If you agree, call us as (602) 824-8111.

Or check out also... "From a Nation of Producers, to a Country of Gamblers""War Is Great. Peace Sucks. Long Live NATO!", "What's a Trill Here, a Trill There...?""More, Cheaper Service Jobs,"  "Two Faces of Globalism", "The Upsizing of America," "Small Caps Sinking First", "Russia Is Still the Bogey" Annex Bulletins.

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Volume I, No. 81-11
November 14, 1983

Editor: Bob Djurdjevic
Published by Annex Research;

5110 North 40th Street,      Phoenix, Arizona 85018
TEL: (602) 824-8111        FAX:

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