IBM PC Turns 30 Years Old and We Reminisce About The Very First

Aug 12, 2011
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IBM PC Turns 30 Years Old and We Reminisce About The Very First

Thirty years ago, the IBM PC was born, and consumers were treated to what for many was the beginning of a new era in home electronics. It was August 12th, 1981 - not the first time anyone had owned their first personal computer, as the MITS Altair 8800 had already been released in 1975, the Apple II and Commodore PET had been released in 1977, RadioShack had a "Model 1" somewhere in there, and the first Ataris (800 and 400) had been released in 1979. All of this was punched directly in the nose by what everyone in the computing business in the time would agree was the most trusted and perhaps the most important tech group in the world - thirty years ago to the day.

The first IBM trumped the 8-bit processors the competition was toting with its then-monstrous 16-bit processor. It utilized a 160k floppy disk drive, had a monochrome adapter for a graphics card, it's display showed green on black, and ran PC-DOS. This system PC-DOS was later to be known as MS-DOS of course once Microsoft had it licensed to 3rd party vendors. Memory inside this first IBM PC was fabulous at 40K ROM, 64K RAM expandable to 256K with the cost of each 64K being $495 USD.

The total cost of a full IMB PC at launch was $3,005, and in the entirety of 1981, exactly 671,537 units were sold. All of this is according to Michael Miller's 20th anniversary post on PCMag back in 2001. This $3,005 unit included memory of 64,000 bytes, a single diskette drive and its own display. You could also buy a bare-bones unit for home use attached to an audio tape cassette player and a television set would sell for approximately $1,565.

C.B. Rogers, Jr., IBM vice president and group executive, General Business Group said of the IMB PC at launch:

"This is the computer for just about everyone who has ever wanted a personal system at the office, on the university campus, or at home. We believe its performance, reliability, and ease of use make it the most advanced, affordable personal computer in the marketplace."

What a blockbuster! What was your first computer? Mine was certainly the lovely Macintosh Color Classic, a fully color console/display in one unit, starting with 4 MB memory and having a sweet Motorola 16 MHz processor running System 7.1 - Mac OS 7.6.1. Of course I quickly got wise in those days as to what having a Mac VS having a PC really meant - artwork and design OR games. By the time Diablo II came out I couldn't stand it anymore - PC it certainly was. Were there any IBM components in my first PC? I haven't a clue. Did I look like the little guy in the photo above? You bet!


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