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Hot off the Press News Item
Tech-Edge staff report 7/08/02

1 Billion Served, PC's go over the top, and into the Dump.

In April, a BIG event happened with absolutely no fan fare, according to Gartner Dataquest statistics, was the shipping of the billionth personal computer. As in computer No. 1,000,000,000. Which means roughly one for every six souls on the planet, if they were all still in use. Gartner estimates that PC No. Two Billion will ship sometime in 2007. Ka Ching . . . .Bill Gates smiles.

Don't worry, you didn't miss any celebrations ˇ there weren't any. No politicians windbagged the airwaves or plodded in parades. Which underscores how much PCs have changed lives. Those old enough will remember when McDonald's kept count of its hamburgers on signs outside of outlets. Eventually, the numbers became so large that it was no longer worth counting. That's what has happened to PCs. They're ubiquitous. And Gartner estimates that of the billion shipped, about half are installed, and most connected to the Internet.

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Where are they all going ? According to Gartner group, 63.4 percent wound up in the United States and Western Europe. Only 4.1 percent made it into Latin America, which makes that third world continent one of the targets for growth. Surprising is that Japan accounted for just 9 percent of the shipments, which Gartner says could be because of recent economic problems. I think the Japanese have better things to do than play games on PC's The other targets for growth are eastern Europe and China.

If, as Gartner projects, the number of PCs shipped in the next five years or so will be equal to the number shipped in the preceding 25, the world will probably change again. It ought to be a fun ride.

Increasingly, U.S. landfill and incinerator facilities are the last stop for electronic waste. But computers, cell phones, TVs, and other electronic equipment are laden with toxins that can leach into groundwater or produce dioxins and other carcinogens when burned. Ted Smith, executive director of the nonprofit Silicon Valley Toxic Coalition, warns that, other than pesticides, "I canÝt think of anything in the household that would present more of a problem than a computer."

Only 11 percent of the 20 million computers junked in 1998 were recycled, according to a National Safety Council study. By 2004, a mind-boggling 315 million PCs are expected to be tossed onto the pile.




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