Who's more famous: Microsoft or the PC?

And what's Bill Gates' Mum got to do with it?

And what's Bill Gates' Mum got to do with it?

The early years of the PC, which are intimately related to the activities of 'hobbyists', have become the stuff of myths.

The history of the PC is a nice story and we all have some fond memories buried in the 20 years of ctrl alt delete.

When IBM finally put the damned thing on sale - after much hush-hush research - it did so with the help of Judge Jackson's favourite company, Microsoft.

Legend has it that Bill's mother, Mary was on the board of an obscure company with a senior IBM executive. This, so the story goes, helped persuade the mainframe giant that a puny little company from Redmond was up to the job of providing a decent operating system.

The irony? In creating one of the most essential business tools, IBM also set in motion the mechanism for the creation of a successor for its monopolistic crown.

The little software company from Redmond become a colossal power and ended up in trouble with the law. And Mary, well she probably gave Bill a ticking off.

IBM, meanwhile, transformed itself from a clumsy giant into a honed machine worthy of its last initial, illustrating that phenomenal success is not reliant on monopolistic behaviour.

IBM also appears to again be embracing the work of the geek. This time it's Linux. Where will that be in twenty years?