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The authors survey the factors that have determined the success or failure of various PCs. The importance that consumers have attached to standard architectures is noted. However, it is pointed out that when hardware standards become established, manufacturers must push harder to differentiate their products from `clones'. It is argued that revolutionary advances in PC technology are not prompted by the users at whom the machines are targeted, but they are created by engineers, research and development teams. The advantages and disadvantages of open architecture are compared with those of closed architectures.