by December 5, 2007 0 comments



Of my ‘ideas’ in the pre-teen days of PCQuest, old-timers remember the tipsy-gullas.
Those were rasgullas, syrup squeezed out, soaked overnight in rum, vodka or gin,
squeezed again, and put back into the syrup. I’d hoped to file a patent.

Recipes, restaurants, ideas, and inventions: all were debated on PCQ Online,
the bulletin board (BBS) we started in 1994, with much help from then-PCQ-columnist
and co-sysop Atul Chitnis. This was the pre-Web era. Our BBS boasted a 16.8 kbps
modem on one phone line, and a 386 PC with 1 MB of memory. It ran the DOS-based
CyberNet BBS software developed by Chitnis. (The software also powered his own
BBS in Bangalore, CiX, and Kishore Bhargava’s ECTCNet in Delhi, probably the
first BBSes in India in 1989.)

The decade saw a BBS explosion. Suchit Nanda’s ‘LiveWire!’ came up in Bombay,
’91, followed in the 1990s, by five LiveWire! BBSes across the country. Delhi
saw Leo Fernandez’s IndiaLink in ’92 and Alok Sinha’s Status BBS in ’93, Ashish
Gulhati’s Primal Scream rock’n’roll board, and more. The BBS community was
hyperactive: it would help out each other with advice-not all technical-and
share tips the moment they’d come across something good, or bad.

The BBS was a glimpse into the future of media, and I recall debates on
whether it would replace magazines. It didn’t. It was ‘replaced’ by the Web,
which took it beyond the phone line to global access. PCQ Online moved to the
Web in 1995. But another ten years would pass before we’d see on pcquest.com any
of the frenetic discussions of the BBS era. The Internet had diffused the
medium.

PCQ saw four other epochs in the 1990s. We started product reviews in 1993,
and later, PCQ Labs, both firsts in India. Our cover-mounted CD-ROM in 1995 was
a first in Asia. We gave away 40,000 disks with IBM’s OS/2 Warp OS with PCQ’s
100th issue, in August 1995. Then came VSNL’s Internet dial-up access in August
1995; next year, PCQ and its sister publications went online. And finally, open
source: over the years, PCQ gave away a couple of million copies of Linux on its
CDs.

Prasanto K
Roy,
Chief Editor

We saw glimpses of the future. The CD was a great way to distribute
content-half a gig for Rs 15, cheaper than any printed magazine. The Web, of
course, was to be the real ‘killer’ for print, and also for the traditional ways
of buying PCs, vegetables, whatever.

Then came the Dot-com boom and bust.

Through it, print survived and grew. When the Internet revival came, and Web
2.0, there was again frenzied debate on the future of print. But in the
background, media had begun to integrate, using multiple platforms. From TV
stations to PCQ, all were using SMS and the Web for quick interaction with the
‘community’. Even in the USA, where online penetration was five years ahead of
India, print remained strong, but the integrated play became more relevant.

Now we have a giant micro-platform: the mobile. With 250 million in India, it
is the next big media platform. Once again, we have a challenger to print. I can
SMS both tipsy-gullah recipes and Misbah cricket jokes to a dozen people and
reach thousands in a day. But again, I suspect we’ll see an even more tightly
integrated media world-of print, online, and mobile-in the next decade.

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