Is It Obsolete Already?

Will the mass movement of computers into homes be stymied by consumers' fears that whatever they buy will instantly be out of date? Reader Lee C. Good of Dallas wonders, is technology changing so fast that "the cart is going downhill faster than the horse?" There's some truth to the computer industry adage that if you can buy it off the shelf, it's obsolete. The Pentium chip is the hottest thing around in the Windows world, but the Intel P6 is lurking in development.

The real question is, what does "obsolete" mean to the consumer? Millions of computers based on Intel's graybeard 80386 chip are still doing the jobs they were bought for by consumers and businesses. Something newer and faster will always be on the market, but buyers of today's PCs can count on several years of use before new software becomes more than their machines can handle.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.