Leonardo da Vinci had great ideas. Submarines and helicopter designs are found sketched in his notebook. Yet history will not remember him when it comes to these advancements. Someone needs to run with the idea.
Why did the zipper find acceptance and displace buttons even though it tends to jam? It is simple. Someone ran with the idea of a zipper and created a change in perception.
In the 1950s, the company that had the first computer, Univac, knew that its machine was designed for scientific work. Univac’s market research had anticipated that by the year 2000, about one thousand computers would be sold – around twenty computers a year. They did not send a salesperson out when businesses showed interest in their computer.
IBM was willing to take orders from businesses and serve them. Around the 1960s, Univac had the most advanced and best machine. IBM had the computer market.
Between 1949 to 1955, electrical apparatus companies (GE in USA, the British GE, Siemens in Germany, Philips in Holand) joined the computer industry. By 1970, big companies were out of the computer market. Around the same time, microchips were invented.
Around 1975, kids began to play computer games. Parents needed personal computers. In five years, between 1979 to 1984, personal computers reached an annual sale volume of $15 to $16 billion. It had taken “main-frames” thirty years to reach this sale volume.
By 1980, IBM produced its own personal computer. By 1983, IBM became the world’s leading personal computer producer. By 1984, over one million computers had been sold.
It is not that IBM had better research and knew that this would happen. Everything they were absolutely certain about was disrupted. Yes, it was the “new normal” then just like it is the new normal now. IBM had to reorganize.
Just thinking about growth will never be enough. When kids started playing computer games and the computer industry changed, guess who won? The thinker (Univac) or the doer (IBM)?