IBM Personal Computer - "PC" (1981)

IBM's first successful entry into the microcomputer marketplace was the model 5150, more widely known as the "IBM PC," in 1981.

IBM began development of the PC in August 1980, in a small building at its Boca Raton, Florida site.

The original team of a dozen developers, led by Philip Donald "Don" Estridge, was given 12 months to complete the project.

The development team needed to break the rules, to go outside traditional boundaries of product development within IBM, and they did. They went to outside vendors for most of the parts, went to outside software developers for the operating system and application software, and acted as an independent business unit.

These changes enabled them to develop and announce the IBM PC in 12 months -- at that time faster than any other hardware product in IBM's history.

"Acorn" was the code name given to the IBM PC during its early development.

IBM Personal Computers - Early Historical Background - 1976 - 1984

International Business Machines Corporation, IBM, introduced its first microcomputer in 1976. However, it was not until the "IBM PC" of 1981, that IBM's presence in the microcomputer marketplace took root.

The IBM 5100 Microcomputer

IBM produced a microcomputer in 1976 called the IBM 5100. It came with 16K RAM expandable to 64K. It came with a built-in 16 line video display, keyboard, and tape drives. It weighed about 50 pounds and cost over $8,000. It was not a very big success in the marketplace. This machine could run programs in BASIC or APL. The PC relied on IBM's own circuit modules, and did not use an Intel microprocessor. The tape drive used a inch tape cartridge which could store about 200K of data.

The IBM Personal Computer (IBM PC)

IBM's first successful entry into the microcomputer marketplace was the model 5150, more widely known as the "IBM PC," in 1981. IBM began development of the PC in August 1980, in a small building at its Boca Raton, Florida site. The original team of a dozen developers, led by Philip Donald "Don" Estridge, was given 12 months to complete the project.

The development team needed to break the rules, to go outside traditional boundaries of product development within IBM, and they did. They went to outside vendors for most of the parts, went to outside software developers for the operating system and application software, and acted as an independent business unit. These changes enabled them to develop and announce the IBM PC in 12 months -- at that time faster than any other hardware product in IBM's history.

"Acorn" was the code name given to the IBM PC during its early development.

The main circuit board for IBM's PC was built at the IBM plant in Charlotte, North Carolina,; the keyboards were built at IBM's Kentucky plant,; disk drives were made by Tandon Corporation, Zenith Electronics Corporation, and SCI Systems of Silicon Valley supplied circuit boards. Monitors came from Taiwan and printers were made by the Japanese company Epson. The IBM PC was introduced to the world at a press conference in New York City at the Waldorf Astoria ballroom, as well as several other locations around the country. The IBM PC used the Intel 4.77 megahertz (MHz) 8088 microprocessor -- advanced for the time, but slow by today's standards.

The diskette drives offered 160 kilobytes (KB) of storage, the equivalent of about 50 single-spaced, typewritten pages. Users could plug the PC into their home television set or choose from an optional monochrome or color display. "Popular Science" magazine, in its November 1981 issue, featured a cover article on the "New Personal Computers" including the IBM PC.

A typical configuration of 64 KB of memory, a single diskette drive, a color display adapter and IBM Disk Operating System (DOS) was priced at $2,665.

Needing new channels to distribute these new computers, IBM turned to Computerland, Sears, Robuck and Co., and IBM Product Centers to make the IBM PC available to the broadest possible set of customers. The introduction of the IBM Personal Computer helped foster a multi-billion dollar industry and set standards that helped establish the PC industry.

The IBM PC desktop used the Intel 8088, 16-bit processor and PC-DOS.

It came with 16 K of RAM and 40 K of ROM. It cost $2,945.

IBM PC Description

The following is a detailed description of the IBM PC.

(January 1982)

System Unit: 20 inches wide, 16 inches deep, 5.5 inches high.

Weight, about 21 pounds without disk drives.

Weight, about 28 pounds with two disk drives

Electrical: 120 VAC

CPU: Intel 8088 processor

Cycle Time: main storage, 410 nanoseconds; access, 250 nanoseconds

Memory: 40K ROM; 16K RAM expandable to 256K RAM

Standard Components: 83 key keyboard, audio-cassette recorder connector,

five expansion slots, built-in speaker, power-on-self-test (POST) of system components, BASIC language

Disk Drives: Up to two 5-inch floppy-disk drives with 160K capacity each

Operating System: IBM PC DOS (from Microsoft)

Optional Software:

Extended BASIC Interpreter $ 40

Microsoft Pascal Compiler $300

Microsoft VisiCalc $200

Personal Software

Easy Writer $175

Information Unlimited

Accounting Software $595

Peachtree Software

asynchronous comm. support $ 40

Adventure $ 30

Microsoft Advanced

Diagnostics Package $155

Hardware Prices:

System Unit, 16K, keyboard $1,265

System Unit, 48K, keyboard,

1 floppy drive $2,235

Monochrome video display $345

Comb. mono display/printer

Adapter $335

Color graphics monitor adapter $300

16K memory expansion $ 90

32K memory expansion $325

64K memory expansion $540

Disk drive adapter $220

5-1/2 inch floppy disk drive $570

Asynchronous comm. adapter $150

Game-control adapter $ 55

Keyboard $270

Printer $755

Printer adapter $150

Printer cable $ 55

Printer stand $ 55

"Byte" magazine featured the IBM PC on the cover of their January 1982 issue, and included an article entitled "A Closer Look at the IBM Personal Computer," by Gregg Williams, senior editor. That same issue featured a two page advertisement by Digital Research, advertising the CP/M-86 operating system as "The Standard in the 16-bit world." In a few years, the DOS operating system would overtake CP/M and become the leading microcomputer operating system by the late 1980's.

 

IBM PC XT ("Extended Technology") 1982

This machine was available with 512K RAM and a hard disk drive.

 

IBM PC Junior

The IBM PC Junior was manufactured from 1983 to 1985. It used the 8088, 16 bit processor, came with a CGA monitor and a single 5-1/4 inch floppy disk drive. The PC Jr. was not a big market success. The hardware interfaces were all non-standard, and it was not able to compete with other portables coming onto the market. It sold for about $1,300 when it was leased in October 1983.

 

IBM Portable PC

The IBM Portable PC used the 8088, 16-bit processor and PC-DOS. It cost $3,030.

 

IBM PC AT ("Advanced Technology")

The PC AT used 16. bit extension slots, and came with MS DOS 3.0. It supported the (new) 1.2 MB floppy disk format, and a 20 MB hard disk drive. It also had a slightly improved keyboard, which became known as the AT style keyboard. The AT came in two models. Model 1 came with 256K RAM, two floppy disk drives and color monitor. The AT Model 2 came with 512K RAM, one floppy drive, hard disk, and color monitor.

 

 

(Information Courtesy of International Business Machines Corporation)

Other references:

"Byte" magazine, January 1982

"Popular Science" magazine, November 1981

 

 

 


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