Installed Base of Computers from 1955 to 2015

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Installed Base of Computers from 1955 to 2015

The installed base for mainframes kept growing after their launch but started declining with the emergence of minicomputers and PC server. Minicomputers’ installed base too waned in the 1990s as smaller devices such as notebook computers emerged. Smartphones' installed base has been rising, reaching 2.222 billion in 2015. The requested information about the installed base of computers from 1955 to 2015 is contained in the attached spreadsheet and a few key findings presented below.

Selected Findings

  • In 1955, mainframes had an installed base of 240 in the United States with an estimated value of $0.180 billion.
  • By 1965, the installation base was 21,600 with an estimated value of $7.8 billion.
  • According to IDC census 1963, 19,361 minicomputers were installed in 1968. By 1981, 28,116 were installed globally.
  • In 1975, PCs had an installed base of 500,000. By 1999, the installed base of 439 million.
  • In 2015, smartphones had an installed base of 2.222 billion.

Research Strategy

After a thorough and dedicated research spanning over 24 hours, the research team could not find most of the data requested for mainframes. Finding precompiled data on the installation base was made difficult by the fact that IBM, being the dominant player in the mainframes business since the onset, does not provide its installed base information. Moreover, as the popularity of mainframes waned with the emergence of PCs, few mainframes were shipped. Thus, very few records exist on the current installed base.

Regarding minicomputers, installed base figures before 1968 were not available because the computers gained popularity in the late 60s and early 70s. The popularity later dwindled in the 90 as technological changes lowered barriers to entry in the computer production and design. Therefore, installation base figures for minicomputers from the 90s was not available.
Personal computers, PC Server, and Smartphones installation base data is presented based on their respective years of launch. Smartphones are relatively recent technological gadgets whose installation base is still rising.

To find the missing information for mainframes, our initial search focused on academic sources such as books. Although we could find some data points, a precompiled list of all the years of interests was not available.

We then shifted out focus to other credible sources such as IDC and Gartner. We hoped to find data on mainframe installed base considering the sources have been conducting a census of mainframes and other technological products over the years. Although some data points were inferred through the search, most of the data for the early years was not available. Perhaps, the fact that the requested data is quite old could be the reason its missing in the public domain.
Moreover, old sources have been used to help capture the information for the period under review. Data consistency was also an issue because the data was compiled differently and at varying times.

Sources
Sources