When IBM Introduced First Personal Computer to the World

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IBM first computers

International Business Machines, has an unmatched legacy ever since its foundation. The company bears the credit of making the term PC (Personal Computers) more common by introducing desktop microcomputers under its brand name. IBM also bagged the record of developing the revolutionary Personal Computers in just twelve months, faster than all its competitors specialising in hardware products. Today which is 12th August, 2020, IBM is celebrating 39 years of the launch of ‘IBM 5150’. Though the model was discontinued 33 years ago in 1987, the company had a lot to offer by introducing more user friendly computers year after year. The history of IBM is a pretty interesting one and we are very sure you will find it engaging.

What we will explore in the following article

  • Some Facts about IBM
  • History of the Global Player- IBM
  • The ‘IBM PC’
  • Salient Features of IBM PC 5150

Some Facts About IBM

  • Founder of the Company- International Businessman Charles Ranlett Flint
  • Headquarters- Armonk, New York, United States
  • Founded On- 16th June, 2011
  • Present CEO- Arvind Krishna
  • Present Net Income- 943 Crores USD

History of the Global Player- IBM

  • The tech giant IBM was incorporated in New York as a Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company in 1911. Charles Flint an international businessman planned and executed the merging Hollerith’s Tabulating and Machine Company, The Computing Scale Company of America and The International Time Recording Company. There were many genius minds who with their businesses became the key components of the C-T-R. Like Alexander Dey who invented the first dial recorder and The Bundy Manufacturing Company which was the first time recording company strengthened the foundation of C-T-R.
  • Thomas Watson Sr, hired as a General Manager by Charles Flint in 1914, led the company towards success. It was under his leadership that IBM became a global player in the fields of technology, management and culture. After a decade, in 1924, Watson renamed the company as International Business Machines as the company had expanded overseas, in Canada, Germany and UK.
  • The tech giant has an amazing success journey with several inventions to its name. Flint’s vision of a strong business empire is inspiring for the entrepreneurs of today.
  • In Charles Flint’s words, “I had the leisure to turn to a field which has since interested me more than any other one- that is, the consolidation of corporations, the forming of what used to be ‘trusts’. I have been called the ‘father of trusts’, although sometimes I think I have been more nearly in the relation of a godfather.”

The ‘IBM PC’

Celebrating the introduction of IBM 5150, which was dubbed as the ‘IBM PC’ by the press, the company made the term ‘Personal Computers’ a household commodity. It is not that a personal computer was made for the first time. There were several companies who were adamant of integrating the components of a computer into a compatible desktop system like Commodore, Apple, Tandy and Atari. It was then when IBM made a bold move under the leadership of Don Estridge, to go outside the company and collaborate with other companies for different parts in order to fast track the building of a micro computer. Before this every product sold by IBM was designed by the company itself.

The project after a lot of heated arguments was given a green signal and was named ‘The Chess’. The System Unit and the keyboard were the only components designed by the company itself. The companies approached for different components were

  • Microsoft: Operating System (QDOS, renamed as PC-DOS and later sold by Microsoft as MS-DOS)
  • Intel: 8088 processor
  • Epson: Dot-Matrix Printer
  • IBM Japan: Existing IBM Monitor

Salient Features of the IBM PC

With great business skills, Estridge with his time launched the revolutionary IBM 5150 dubbed as the IBM Personal Computers which revolutionised the era of Computers . The systems which were once seen in Glass Rooms in offices were brought to the convenience of homes. On 12th August, 1921 in a press conference in New York, IBM 5150 was introduced with below mentioned key features

  • 16 kb of RAM
  • No Disk Drives
  • Applications included: VisiCalc, Spreadsheet, EasyWriter, A Word Processor 
  • Price- US$ 1565

The IBM PC was an open architecture product which meant that other companies could develop peripheral devices and develop software products with the technical information and software source codes published by IBM. A more advanced model had RAM of 256 KB and two Floppy Disk drives. These Personal Computers were sold through retail stores such as Computer Land and Sears. 

Ever since the Personal Computers became a part of people’s lives and the sales of IBM 5150 and its successors peaked. Computers became so popular that Times Magazine instead of featuring ‘Man of the Year’ featured ‘Machine of The Year’ on 3rd Jan, 1983. It mentioned, “… the enduring American love affairs with the automobile and the television set are now being transformed into a giddy passion for the personal computer … it is the end result of a technological revolution that has been in the making for four decades and is now, quite literally, hitting home.”

Wrapping Up

Paving the way for more innovative and compatible designs, IBM 5150 was discontinued in 1987. The successors were IBM PC XT, IBM PCjr, IBM Portable Personal Computer, IBM PC Convertible. From the 19th to the 21st Century, IBM is creating a colourful history of innovations in the field of Information Technology, Management and Culture.

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