Happy 25th Birthday!

Happy Birthday to you!  Happy Birthday to you…

Well, this birthday boy probably won’t be blowing out any candles, and definitely not eating any cake, but it’s still worth celebrating.  Happy Birthday to the personal computer (PC).  Or more accurately, happy birthday to the IBM 5150, the first computer model that really took off in the business world.  Sure the Apple II was out, as was Atari’s model, but as a business manager would you rather buy a machine from the International Business Machine company or the company named after a fruit?

IBM 5150

IBM 5150

The IBM 5150 has much in common with the desktops today. Separate keyboard and monitor, for starters.  It ran what IBM called PC-DOS which it got from Microsoft (MS-DOS), who bought it from a Seattle based company (QDOS – Quick and Dirty Operating System).  Most computers still run it today, although hidden.  The first program made for this program, a spreadsheet called VisiCalc, can still be run on computers today.  (You can get it here.) And it had an Intel processor.  Using off-the-shelf components made by someone else’s was new for IBM, which made it possible for other companies to clone its machine.  Thus the sale of personal computers exploded.

Price?  $1265 + monitor, floppy disk drive (upgrade from cassette drive), and $40 for PC-DOS.  Other OS’s were available but they cost from $400-600 (M$ hasn’t always been the most expensive).  One other impressive note for the time, both upper and lowercase letters could be used (the Apple II only had uppercase).

IBM sold their first unit 25 years ago today.  So Happy Birthday to you personal computer, how would we function today without you?


Leave a comment

Your comment