The IBM PC, Which Changed Computers Forever, Turns 35

Megalith

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The IBM 5150, considered by many to be the catalyst of the desktop computer, celebrated its 35th birthday yesterday. It was not only the first computer that the typical person could take home but was also the first IBM system to use components and software from other companies (e.g., Microsoft and Intel). The simplest configuration of the 5150 offered 16KB of RAM with no hard drive and used an audio cassette to load and save data.

Not long before the 5150 debuted, IBM computers had cost as much as $9 million to run and needed a staff of 60 people and an air-conditioned room that took up a quarter of an acre. The company's entry-level computer, the IBM System/38 minicomputer cost $90,000. But when the idea of a home computer was first floated at IBM it was met with a cold response: "Why would anyone want to take a computer home with them?" Facing competition from the likes of Apple, Commodore and Atari, then-chief executive Frank Cary decided IBM needed to buy one of those smaller computers or design its own microcomputer that would cost a seemingly impossible $1,500.
 

pxc

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If I've learned anything from season 1 of Halt and Catch Fire, all it really takes is one person to write a PC BIOS and one person to design a motherboard from scratch. You can add one Steve Jobs like guru to the mix and stir. What took IBM so long?
 

Burticus

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If I've learned anything from season 1 of Halt and Catch Fire, all it really takes is one person to write a PC BIOS and one person to design a motherboard from scratch. You can add one Steve Jobs like guru to the mix and stir. What took IBM so long?

LOL yeah and a guy to debug the the BIOS manually and another to record it on paper... in binary? Or was it hex, I've forgotten.

That show is so stupid it hurt my brain. But oh, the hot hacker chick can solve all problems.
 

bbvdd2

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Still have a working IBM PC XT. How else do you still play Zork, King's Quest, Lode Runner and Sun Tzu Art of War?
 

melteye

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And now it's "Why would anyone want to leave a computer at home?"

I'm 32. I hate using laptops, tablets and have a strong aversion to using smartphones for anything more than a simple phone or gps device. Anything more than a few minutes on a fucking android or ios phone and I have to actively tell myself not to smash it against the concrete (slight exe: I simply hate the responsiveness and the interfaces.

My big and heavy computer sitting in my living room is what makes it home for me.

I did, however, like using a Surface Pro with a pen and keyboard. Not enough to buy one.
 
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LFaWolf

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Still have a working IBM PC XT. How else do you still play Zork, King's Quest, Lode Runner and Sun Tzu Art of War?
I have an IBM PS/2 and Compaq 386SX in storage. Wish I have sold them back then. Now sure what to do with them now.
 

DogChainX

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I have an IBM PS/2 and Compaq 386SX in storage. Wish I have sold them back then. Now sure what to do with them now.

I have a ton of 386/486 systems as a collection. I enjoy retro computing, mostly for the fact I can hold something that I dearly wanted such a long time ago that I never could afford, being a kid, but now is a couple of dollars at the thrift store. Nostalgia....
 

grtitan

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Wow, times flies.

Funny how I just got home from the Long Island retro gaming convention and was very disappointed that the only vintage computer, was an Atari 400, which wasn't connected.

Anyways, always wanted a PC AT and then a PS/ model 50, sadly, always un reachable.
 

steakman1971

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I remember seeing the ads and commercials. I never had enough jack to get an IBM or Apple computer - just way too expensive for my family. I saved my paperboy money, cut lawns, and bought a C64.
My friend had an IBM AT and ran a BBS on it. The C64 had a better selection of games, but the IBM had better BBS software. Plus, my friends dad must have had some type of spreadsheet or accounting software - I remember him using it (and taking the BBS offline when he did).
 

Slinkycatz

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Anyone who says something else is slow has never attempted to load anything from an audio cassette tape.
 

M76

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I'm 32. I hate using laptops, tablets and have a strong aversion to using smartphones for anything more than a simple phone or gps device. Anything more than a few minutes on a fucking android or ios phone and I have to actively tell myself not to smash it against the concrete (slight exe: I simply hate the responsiveness and the interfaces.

It's like you read my mind. I only use laptops and handheld devices if I must. If there is a choice I always prefer the good old desktop computer. A laptop just doesn't cut it. It's either heavy and huge, which makes it a pain to carry around. Or it's light and small, which makes it exponentially less usable, as it will have less performance, smaller keyboard, smaller screen, so you can strain your eyes with it. The laptop compared to a good desktop is like a velorex compared to a real car.
 

Dr. Righteous

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or was able to load it in the first place. I maintain that cassette tapes in that era were sick practical joke.

You got that right. It is so funny but just being able to SAVE a program you wrote was HUGE. For the Atari computer the floppy drives were way too expensive so I got a cassette tape drive.
#1, it didn't work. The buttons for the tape drive immediately broke one by one. I fix that issue by drilling a hole in the plastic button and putting a aluminum pin in it to active the cassette mechanism. That held up where the plastic didn't.
After studying the wiring diagram of their "daisy chain" interface I found the cable that shipped with the unit was wired incorrectly. After repairing that the deck saved and loaded my programs. (most of the time)
The holy grail was when I found the Atari 1050 floppy drive on a clearance sale at K-Mart for $250. I freaked and scraped every penny I had, plus paid the rent late to buy it. It seemed lightening fast to me. LOL!! But the coolest thing was it you could browse a directory of your files on the disc. That was so cool back then. That was 1985.
 

pxc

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or was able to load it in the first place. I maintain that cassette tapes in that era were sick practical joke.
lol

On the Commodore, and probably other tape storage devices, the data was stored twice. The first pass loaded the program and the second pass verified the data. It operated around 300 bits/second, so it wasn't really suitable for larger programs. Tape was the first storage I had on a home computer and loading could take up to 10 minutes for medium-sized programs or games. It was awful.
 
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