The desktop computer market is even larger than the portable market; worldwide sales of high-end desktops exceeded $7.3 billion in 1990 alone, more than a 7-fold increase in only 5 years . Like every other part of the market, the huge demand drives unrelenting improvement and enormous price cutting, which increases the market and further drives improvement. For example, in October 1991 IBM cut prices on the PS/2, its personal computer, by 20 percent; in November 1991 Toshiba and Compaq cut prices on several of their computers 25 percent; and in 1990 Apple halved the prices of all its computers. These are common occurrences in the computer industry over the last 10 years.
Introduced 3 years ago, the NeXT desktop computer came with Webster's Ninth Collegiate Dictionary and Shakespeare's corpus, ready for instant display of any page or part of page, with its accompanying high-resolution illustrations. Among many other then amazing advances the NeXT let readers search for any phrase or part of phrase, or any other simple pattern, and in milliseconds it displayed all pattern occurrences anywhere in Shakespeare's works.
After only 3 years that computer is already obsolete; the current best high-end personal computer is the just introduced Silicon Graphics IRIS Indigo. The Indigo operates at 30 MIPS (million instructions per second), and combines compact disc quality sound with real-time 3-dimensional animation. It can display color images as fast as it can read them off of its disc. It costs $8,000.
Three years ago the original NeXT cost $10,000 to students and academics; in 1991 it costs $5,000 to the general public and $3,000 to students and academics. By 1995 it may cost as little as $1,500. By 1997 equivalent power will be available for $500.