I am at a loss as to how many computer-related fairs there are in a year because unlike many others I have never made an annual pilgrimage. The first occasion was in 2006 and the next time was to a computer show at SUNTEC City in 2010. On both occasions, it was blogger Victor Koo who encouraged me to make the trip for the best mega-deals in town.
Photo 1: A computer show at SUNTEC City.
From both fairs, I got the impression times have changed. Now it looks more like a bazaar rather than an exhibition or a trade fair. Today there’s a gamut of product-offerings at such as cameras, camcorders, printers, mobile phones, TVs & home entertainment, games, monitors and accessories. The crowd profile looks different - casual in dressing and more female visitors.
So why am I blogging about it? Well the computer fairs or exhibitions do have a heritage touch to it. Do you know when was the first ever computer show held in Singapore? Where was it held?
Photo 2: Hyatt Hotel (c 1981).
When computer shows were first introduced into Singapore, it was led by the PCs. You never found Mainframes, Mini-computers or Workstations in any exhibition until the National Computer Board (NCB) was formed in 1984. This means that big IT vendors such as IBM, Unisys, NCR, HP, Sun Microsystems or Digital actively took part in shows after the Singapore Government’s computerization program swung into high gear. Similar to “rapid urban renewal” in Singapore, NCB disappeared in the late 1990s after it merged with the Telecommunication Authority of Singapore (TAS) to form IDA.
Photo 3: NCR advertisement(c 1983).
The first PC Show was held at the Hyatt Hotel in 1982. Here are some old snap shots of that show. It was called PerCompAsia 1982. 1982 was a significant year because IBM launched the IBM PC/XT models; minimum configuration was 32K Ram, 2 X 5.25” floppy drives of 360KB each and a higher capacity model which had a 10MB Tandon drive. How many of you can remember home entertainment ATARI or PET COMMODORE? How about the Philips word processing systems?
Photo 4: Big dinosaur PCs. A marketing support personnel explaining to an illiterate IT customer (c 1982).
Yesterday’s PercompAsia 1982 was organised by Singapore Exhibition Services Pte Ltd. The exhibition was quite unlike today’s modern “pasar malam” because the organizers did not allowed for on-the-spot sales. Just to give you a sense of how much Singapore computer users have come from 20 years ago, the software demonstrated included personal productivity tools - SuperCal, Wordstar and Dbase II and accounting - General Ledger, Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable.
Photo 5: There was a time when rival computer vendor personnel developed friendship during an exhibition. “How about meeting at Chinoserie after work?” (c 1982)
When I looked back at these old photos, there is a certain smartness and uniformity of these IT personnel. They wore the familiar business suites or normal office attires of dark trousers and white shirt, and spoke proper English (not Mandarin with some English words thrown in).
In fact I heard many stories which echoed the same voice: The day Yaohan Best sold computers, it was time to get out working in the IT Industry. Good bye to bits and bytes!
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