Home > History > 30 years of the IBM PC!

30 years of the IBM PC!

IBM’s first personal computer, the IBM 5150 PC, was unveiled at a press conference in the ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York thirty years ago this week, on 12 August 1981.   The arts and design desk of the International Herald Tribune has a story about that PC here.

In 1980, Bill Lowe, director of its research laboratory in Boca Raton, Florida, set up a dedicated task force, led by Don Estridge, to design an affordable personal computer. Realizing that the development process would take too long if IBM adhered to corporate policy by developing all of the components itself, the task force was allowed to source pre-tested parts from other companies. Microsoft developed the software by modifying existing systems. It took only 12 months to complete the 5150 — a record for IBM.

Originally the 5150 was intended to be a home computer, but most of the orders came from businesses. By the end of 1982, IBM was selling one every minute of the working day. IBM stopped making the 5150 in 1987, but its design legacy continues. And although geeks enjoy remembering the 5150’s software bug — when asked to divide 0.01 by 10, it reportedly displayed 9.999999E-4 — it was so robust that most of the surviving machines still work.”


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