Personal tech spins off

by May 13, 2022 0 comments

By Mala Bhargava, Editorial Consultant, Hindu Business Line & Former Executive Editor, Living Digital

Many tech enthusiasts who know me today would be surprised to learn that I started my writing career with PCQuest, not Computers@Home (Living Digital), the magazine I created and headed for a decade. I had abandoned my attempts at a career in psychology in 1995 and was floundering when I met the then editor, Prasanto Roy. It was he who taught me how to explore products and write about them and I took to it like a duck to water. It was just then that the Internet arrived in India via VSNL and the excitement began.

My very first look at the Internet left me none the wiser as I tried to make sense of commands that sounded like pure gibberish. But then came the World Wide Web and this was where we began to practically live—especially if we could break into someone else’s account. The possibilities were endless with the ‘Information Superhighway” all set to change a life. Which is exactly what it did.

I wrote on how to navigate the Web as a freelancer for PCQuest and soon also had ‘multimedia’ products to explore and introduce to readers. All this was so readily lapped up by readers that CyberMedia decided to start a separate magazine dedicated to ‘non-techies’ or as we now refer to it, personal tech. Products poured in and there was so much to write about in my new magazine, Computers@Home. I had a small but entirely excited and involved team and all of us had to be pushed to go home at the end of the day. I remember marveling at the first digital cameras, playing with pagers, and watching as modems and printers and UPS machines were reviewed in mammoth shootouts by the newly created Labs at PCQuest. We learned about rigor, objectivity, and a sense of responsibility to both readers and companies who looked for a thorough and fair evaluation of products. Computers@Home was born out of PCQuest and then became its client, so to speak, for reviews and tech know-how.

Looking back to those first heady days of the connected lifestyle we now take for granted, I often play a game of then-and-now with myself. Did we really use pagers and feature phones and did we not always have the pocket computers we call smartphones today? Did we really have no Google? No Social Media? No Likes and followers, no push notifications and messages pinging in? Somehow it seems impossible to envisage the world being any different from the way it is now. There was no AI everywhere, no Machine Learning, no oceans of content streaming out through YouTube, no choice of music services, and certainly no beautiful iPhones to show off.

This is part of our PCQuest 35 Years Series on the Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow of Technology.


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