Desktops and Notebooks: The IBM PC Era: Where It All Started

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2011-08-15 Print this article Print
IBM Personal Computer

IBM Personal Computer

Although IBM's launch of the Personal Computer (IBM 5150) in 1981 set the industry standard for personal computing, IBM had introduced a variety of small computers for individual users several years earlier. While now is certainly an appropriate moment to salute the legendary IBM PC on its 30th birthday, it's also a good time to take a brief look back at some of the pioneering IBM products that immediately preceded it.
Aug. 12 marked the 30th anniversary of the introduction of IBM's 5150 personal computer. Recently, IBM executive Mark Dean, one of the engineers of the original IBM PC, said the post-PC era is here, and that it's not the devices, but the social interaction they enable, which now is driving innovation. This eWEEK slide show looks at that machine and some of its predecessors. IBM took the features and characteristics of all these early small computers and provided them in one incredibly utilitarian machine. With the PC, the widest possible range of users could perform with a single product all the functions that had until then been optimized in such offerings as the 5100, Displaywriter and 5520. If the IBM PC signaled the dawn of a new era in computing, then its quick ascent to mass acceptance and success had been made possible by those little remembered IBM pioneers that had come before. In an Aug. 10 posting on the IBM Smarter Planet blog, Dean, now the CTO of IBM's Middle East and Africa unit, said he was proud of what IBM accomplished in fueling the PC era, but added that the PC's time as the dominant computing form factor is coming to an end. IBM executives saw it coming when they sold the PC business to Lenovo in 2005, he said.
Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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