Do you know the Osborne effect, the obsession of all computer manufacturers?

The history of Silicon Valley is filled with majestic hiccups. That of the Osborne Computer case will become so famous that it will give its name to a social phenomenon: the Osborne effect.

Apple decidedly does not like that we are too interested in products in preparation in its factories. According to a letter obtained by the site Vice, the company threatened several Internet users with legal action behind industrial indiscretions concerning future Apple products.

The Osborne Computer case

Apple strives to take strict measures to maintain the confidentiality of any information regarding future products. This is to make sure that every time Apple releases a new product, it can surprise the audience. Apple’s tech secrets are an important part of its DNA »Underlines the letter. There is nothing unusual about wanting to maintain secrecy around a future product: it’s a lesson the IT industry learned the hard way after the Osborne Computer affair.

Let’s go back a bit. In early 1983, Adam Osborne, the president of what was still one of Silicon Valley’s most reputable companies, quietly announced to reporters the upcoming exit of the Osborne Executive. The computer, which will sell for $ 2,495, is thought to be the successor to the Osborne 1, an extremely popular laptop of the time (it carried 64 kilobytes of memory and a 5-inch screen, you know). The Executive will be more powerful, more complete and better optimized than the Osborne 1.

A leak that causes bankruptcy

The technical demo takes place in a locked hotel room and journalists present are asked not to write anything before the official release in April. Despite all the company’s efforts, several dealers have wind of the story and stop supplying Osborne 1 so as not to have obsolete computers on their hands when the next one is released. As a result, consumers are also beginning to wait before buying a new computer. The case created such a hollow, that Osborne Computer would have the greatest difficulty in the world to finalize the production of its new computers and will shut down a few months after the release of the Executive.

The Osborne Executive next to an iPhone // Source: Casey Fleser – Wikimedia

While the reasons behind Osborne Computer’s bankruptcy are debated today, history has given its name to a social phenomenon called the Osborne effect. When a product is announced too prematurely, it creates expectations on the part of the public who will more easily shun the product currently on the market while waiting for the release of the next model.

The phenomenon has lost some of its force, now that the annual outings have been ritualized. That said, manufacturers still try to keep products in development a secret to avoid hurting a product’s popularity for sale. This is why companies don’t like leaks.

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