Born August 12th 1981, the IBM Personal Computer changed the world. Hard to imagine now, but back then it really was the start of a revolution. All those personal computers that came before it were nothing more than toys in the eyes of the business world, the marriage of Microsoft to the IBM Disk Operating System pretty much proved the point.
I promised myself I would not get all emotional and sloppy over the thought of that original IBM 5150 with its 4.77MHz processor, 56kb of memory (if you could afford the upgrade you could have as much as 256kb) and an expensive and very optional 160kb capacity floppy drive. And, oh, that 83-key adjustable, external, keyboard. Sheer joy! Within a year, Time Magazine would even name the PC as its Man of the Year, bizarrely enough. And what about the cost, back then it was a very reasonable investment: $1500 if I recall correctly. A lot of money, equivalent to about $4000 today, but a whole heap less than the $9 million an original IBM computer from twenty years prior would have cost (and let’s not mention that it required a quarter-acre of air conditioned space to operate in.)
Sad, in a way, that IBM is no longer in the PC business, having sold that particular part of the company to Chinese company Lenovo a couple of years back. The same cannot be said of Bill Gates who is, so I am told, still involved in the software business. I can’t help wondering if Bill is raising a glass to the IBM PC, celebrating the machine that kick started his incredible career. If he isn’t, I certainly am: Happy Birthday IBM PC.