When we think about computers, we think about modern technology. In some way, every piece of technology we use, from our digital camera to our microwave ovens, are computers. But what comes to mind first when thinking about computers are our desktops and laptops - devices we use every day to work, use the internet, or as is becoming increasingly common, use for online gaming.
It was only by the 1980's that individuals started purchasing personal computers, with Atari, Commodore and IBM being the top sellers. By the early 1990's, Microsoft enjoyed a high degree of success through their Windows operating systems, particularly Windows 3.1 which was used by many people. As hardware became more impressive, so did operating systems. Each subsequent release of Windows - 95, 98, ME, 2000, XP and Vista - has become more visually appealing and reliant on graphics.
Microsoft is still enjoying the success of its Windows operating system. It is estimated that Windows holds over 90% of of the market share, while Apple Macintosh, which has been gaining in recent times due to the popularity of the iPod and the iPhone, is over 7%. Linux distributions and iPhone's together make up less than 1%.
Technology is moving at such a rate that what is currently the latest and greatest software and hardware could well be obsolete within years, and this means we are constantly seeing new innovations. In recent times, Apple has been the innovator and Microsoft the follower, a reversal of how it was in the later part of last century. The iPod, and to a lesser extent due to it's recency, the iPhone, have revolutionised the way we as consumers live. Microsoft has been playing catch-up with it's Zune mp3 player.
We can only begin to imagine what companies such as Apple and Microsoft will bring to us in the next 10 to 15 years. Living in the computer age, we as a society have come to expect bigger and better things and a lot of pressure has been put on these companies to meet our demands.