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Background: What’s Happening in 1986

1986 was the year that the total processing power of PCs in use surpassed the total processing power of mainframes in use. Personal computers were not only here to stay but they were becoming a big part of the American business scene. The personal computer revolution was at hand.

In 1986, thanks to Advanced NetWare and Microsoft’s MS-Net, personal computers were not only being used in business, they were being wired together. The average size of a PC LAN had grown to twelve, and thanks to Advanced NetWare bridging, the maximum potential size was now hundreds of machines. By comparison, the average network of 1984 was about three machines and the maximum potential size was between 24 (for S-Net) and 128 (for ARCnet and Ethernet).

Apple Macintosh and IBM PC compatibles were both still hot contenders for the average person’s PC dollars. (Windows was not viable yet, so Apple had not yet been driven into just the education and publishing niches.)

Ethernet cards were still comparatively expensive (about $300 each) and Fast Ethernet was not available, so ARCnet was the card of choice for NetWare networks. IBM’s Token Ring was coming (and generating a lot of talk) and there were still a plethora of other hardware networking technologies in use.

Hard disks were using the 5" “form factor” (shape and size) and 3.5" floppies were now becoming standard on PCs.

“Letter-quality” dot-matrix printers in many forms were kings of the roost in the printer world and daisywheels were headed for the typewriter niche. Epson’s market dominance was slipping. Hewlett-Packard was having a rough time but it had introduced the LaserJet line of laser printers. HP proudly announced there would be good times coming, but at the time the announcement looked like another case of hope springing eternal. (As you may know, this time the hope was justified.)

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