The first PC review ever published in PC Pro
Posted on 12 Oct 2012 at 09:00
We republish the first ever PC review to appear in PC Pro back in 1994
PC Pro came of age recently - it's 18 years since we first appeared on the newsagents' shelves in autumn 1994.
To mark the occasion, we've decided to republish the first standalone PC review to appear in our magazine, which you'll find embedded below (Click on the article to expand it to full screen, or click here if you can't see the article).
The review, written by Jon Honeyball (who remains a pivotal part of PC Pro 18 years later) is of the ESCOM Pentium P60. As you'll see, Jon's not particularly enamoured with it.
The supplied 4MB of RAM was "far too little for 1994-sized packages", leaving Windows for Workgroups feeling "decidedly wobbly" and bringing Word 6 "to its knees".
It scored only two out of six overall, with Jon concluding that "you can make it too cheap". Too cheap in 1994 being £1,409 inc VAT - which taking 18 years of inflation into account would be roughly £2,350 today.
By comparison our current A-List budget PC, the Palicomp Phoenix i5 Destiny costs only £699 inc VAT. The Palicomp's processor clock speed is 58 times faster than the 60MHz Pentium in the ESCOM; it has over 1,000 times more RAM; and more than 2,500 times the hard disk capacity.
Changing shape of PC Pro
It's not only the hardware that's changed significantly since 1994. You'll notice a few differences between the style of review from 1994 and today's magazine. Firstly, the review was written in the first-person ("I"), rather than the first-person plural ("we") style we've adopted for many years now.
The "speed tests" we used in those days are very different from today's Real World Benchmarks, although there are similarities. In those days we benchmarked the ESCOM on Windows 3.1, using tests involving an (unspecified) word processor/spreadsheet, database and graphics package.
Nowadays, we thrash our PCs with a suite of media applications, run a comprehensive set of multitasking tests and push the graphics with demanding 3D titles such as Crysis.
You'll also notice a couple of style oddities - such as references to 4Mb of RAM and a 406Mb hard disk, instead of 4MB of RAM and a 406MB hard disk. Frankly, we blame the sloppiness of the reviews editor of the time, one James Tye. Whatever happened to him?
What became of ESCOM?
So who were ESCOM, the company that made that first ever review PC? Well, according to Wikipedia, the company didn't really recover from Jon's scathing review, and went out of business just two years later - but not before they'd taken over what was left of TV rental outfit Rumbelows and paid $14 million for the remains of Commodore International.
Which, we have to admit, may have done more damage to their bottom line than a Honeyball demolition job. But not much...
Next week, find out which household name wrote for the first issue of PC Pro, before he was famous.
Author: Barry Collins
1st PC Pro again?
"What's special about this Pentium PC is its spectacularly low price"
Would be interesting to see more old reviews like this. What are the chances of making the first ever PC Pro available for download?
By kingjulian on 12 Oct 2012
Aaah, those were the days!
I remember reading that issue of PCPro; in fact I think my uncle, who was visiting at the time, gave it to me having finished with it.
We also had an Escom Pentium P60! However my parents bought it in 1995, not '94. By that point it had 8MB of RAM as standard and came in a mini tower case, so maybe Escom took note of Jon's review. However at first, the extra RAM did little good because it came with OS2 Warp installed! Why, I have no idea, but I do know that OS2 really needed 32MB in order to sing. My Dad took it back after a few weeks and insisted on DOS 6.22 and WinForWG 3.11.
It was a bad time to buy a machine really; it seems that everyone apart from us knew that you were better off with a 486 DX4 100 than a Pentium 60. The Pentium didn't get into its stride until the P75 or even better the P90. Also, later that year, Windows 95 came out, leaving the Escom box feeling quite dated indeed.
I think giving Jon the glory for Escom's demise is probably a little OTT though. The sort of people who bought in Escom were generally not the sort who would have read PCPro issue 1.
For all it's faults though, the machine did run Quake quite nicely at 320x200. On a 14" screen! You need to try it sometime to appreciate quite how bad it was, although obviously my brother and I didn't think so at the time. Halcyon days. :)
By SirRoderickSpode on 12 Oct 2012
I still have that issue...
In fact until about 2 years ago, I had ALL the PC Pro issues right the way back from issue 1, but had to have a clearout and got rid of a lot of them.
Perhaps I should have seen if any PC Pro-ers would have been interested in them, but I needed to get rid of them and clear some space.
Happy days! :^)
By mrmmm on 12 Oct 2012
Sadly C and Java programmers still have to deal with syntax introduced to make life easier on monitors with a resolution of 320x200 or less.
By tirons1 on 12 Oct 2012
And let's not forget the old reviewer Jon Honeyball. Surely he was still in shorts and had to get permission from his mum to write reviews for you?
By SparkyHD on 12 Oct 2012
Actually, C came from the days of 80x25 text only displays, which would have been at least 640x200, monochrome.
Heck, the first C program I wrote was on an old VT-100 terminal, which I could put into "condensed" mode, to get 132 characters per line.
By big_D on 12 Oct 2012
normally reviewers mellow with age..... eh Jon?
By TigerUnleashed on 12 Oct 2012
Our 1st PC was a 286 and cost a FORTUNE!
I can't recall detail (too much shiraz under the belt etc..) but I seem to recall upgrading to a 20 MB HDD and 4MB of RAM, prior to install Windows NT.
As for OS/2 it was good.... but not THAT good!
By wittgenfrog on 15 Oct 2012
I had two dealings with Escom back in the mid 90s.
The first was at the Ideal Homes Exhibition, where they had a stand selling Hayes models for suspiciously cheap prices (tens of pounds cheaper than they normally went for). I bought one, it got me online and it worked flawlessly.
I then found a store of theirs locally (ex-Rumbelows) and they had boxes of 10 floppies for £1 - stupidly cheap. I bought a tenner's worth and then they went bust the following week. The disks were terrible quality, full of bad sectors and I ended up throwing them all away.
You win some, you lose some!
By Retron on 3 Nov 2012
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