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Tom's 20th Anniversary: A Retrospective With The Editors-in-Chief

Omid Rahmat (1999 - 2003 as EIC; 2003 - 2008 as CEO)

Tom's Hardware: What are some of the highlights that you recall from your time at the helm of Tom’s Hardware from an industry happening standpoint?

Omid Rahmat: The single point when Tom's went from a blog to a phenomenon was the Pentium III recall that happened in the summer of 2000. Up until that point Intel was untouchable. The mainstream technology press was pretty much in Intel's pocket, and the enthusiast sites were still kind of a mass of amateurs nerding out among each other. It's kind of a testament to Thomas Pabst's brilliance that he managed to do something that no one, inside or outside of the industry, could do or would have dared to do. That put Tom's Hardware on the map globally.

TH: What about from an internal Tom’s point of view — here I’m talking about milestones or significant achievements on a brand level?

OR: I remember that somewhere around late 2001, first week of 2002, we changed Tom's pages from a black background to a white background. You would have thought we had killed somebody, because the diehard Tom's community had been so used to our black background, kind of grungy, garage-band look. But, within months, our traffic had doubled. It still amazes me to this day that something that simple meant so much.

TH: What are some of the technologies that excite you most today? What do you think holds the most promise?

OR: Health, and wearables. The desktop, even the laptop, are utilitarian devices. They really are for work only. With mobile devices I think our unhealthy attachment is going to create a backlash to being always-on. However, the opportunities for wearable tech and health-related devices and applications is just beginning. It seems like a natural extension of mobile, which is a very self-centered experience. Technology has to become about our personal wellness and longevity.

I am not sure that it is a good thing, either. Maybe we won't need to fear robot overlords but hybrid bio-electronic organisms. The good news is that we know it will puny humans behind the next wave in technology, so they will probably never, ever become self-aware.

TH: Are there areas where you feel as if the hardware technology providers are failing?

OR: I think hardware is making a comeback. We have been in internet mode for the last 20 years. It has consumed the tech industry. Now, hardware is becoming cool again. I hate the term Internet of Things, but networking our world is inevitable. Unfortunately, I think talking fridges and smart thermostats are not that much to get excited about. The tech world really isn't ready, quite yet, to lose itself in the world. It still wants to cry out, "Look at me." The best hardware will be the hardware that we never see or think about.

TH: What are you up to now?

OR: Breaking Muscle. The legacy of Tom's Hardware is still there, I think. I still love digital media but my passion is in health and fitness. Nevertheless, like Tom's we are built for the best and the rest will follow. It is driven by a desire to be more questioning than the mainstream, and it is leading the way. I truly believe that human well-being, fitness, and health are going to be the biggest drivers in technology innovation over the next 20 years.

And like Tom's, we have built an audience organically, driven by the quality of content and our sense of values. One thing that we never compromised in the old days of Tom's was our principles. We felt like we were better than the mainstream tech press, and I think we were right to feel that way. Doing things for the right reasons is still a good way to succeed.

  • beetlejuicegr
    Nice to finally see who was tom's founder. nice to see him being active and on an important thing too. Good points of view on VR and cars :)
    Reply
  • Onus
    While it may seem like blasphemy, I'm going to basically agree with David Strom about overclocking. In the "old" days, people had to overclock to keep up with new software. Today, while some improvement is possible, it does not seem that overclocking is a make or break requirement when it comes to running certain software.
    I would have liked to have seen some references to the evolution away from print media like PC Week and PC Magazine, which old guys like me used to devour for current tech and the state of the industry. Matching wits with those guys was always fun. Were mags like that an influence? Did they provide a starting point? Were they guides for what to do, or what not to do?
    Reply
  • dgingeri
    It's funny that this coincides with my birthday. :)
    Reply
  • nycalex
    "The industry is divided in very few truly innovative businesses, and then a myriad of companies that sneakily wait for others to have the courage of bringing real novelties to the market so that they can make their very own "me too" product. It's a sad situation, but look at Tom's Hardware's history and all the "me too" hardware websites that came up a few years later. It's human nature. There are few with vision, and many simply driven by jealousy and greed."

    wow! This man KNOWS!
    i could not agree more.
    Reply
  • 2Be_or_Not2Be
    I find Tom's remark about smartphones to be quite telling. It seems to be the greatest irony to have a social network, like Facebook, that is supposed to increase your social interactions/connections, become the reason why you see groups of people (even families) not interacting with each other because they are all on their smartphones.
    Reply
  • de5_Roy
    happy 20th anniversary tom's! :D
    this site has helped me so much. thank you!
    Reply
  • jimmysmitty
    18028736 said:
    "The industry is divided in very few truly innovative businesses, and then a myriad of companies that sneakily wait for others to have the courage of bringing real novelties to the market so that they can make their very own "me too" product. It's a sad situation, but look at Tom's Hardware's history and all the "me too" hardware websites that came up a few years later. It's human nature. There are few with vision, and many simply driven by jealousy and greed."

    wow! This man KNOWS!
    i could not agree more.

    Tom is a smart man. He started one of the first tech sites that is currently the largest. He also knew how to have fun with it and show off some fun things.

    18028920 said:
    I find Tom's remark about smartphones to be quite telling. It seems to be the greatest irony to have a social network, like Facebook, that is supposed to increase your social interactions/connections, become the reason why you see groups of people (even families) not interacting with each other because they are all on their smartphones.

    It is sad but true. I remember going to a restaurant one time and seeing a family with everyone's nose in their phones. I just can't seem to understand why they can't put them down for a meal with the family. I barely use my phone when I am eating a meal let alone out with family/friends.

    I love Toms. 20 years of great fun and technology.
    Reply
  • nukemaster
    I agree with Thomas Pabst's comments.

    Everything has changed quite a bit since this site came online 20 years ago. Not all of it has been good(in my opinion, so feel free to disagree).

    I have been reading almost since the start and later joined the forums here.
    Reply
  • turkey3_scratch
    Sounds like Tom has something secret up his sleeve, as per his final statement.
    Reply
  • nukemaster
    18029352 said:
    Sounds like Tom has something secret up his sleeve, as per his final statement.
    For sure.

    It will be interesting to see what he does next.
    Reply