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One of IBM's early experiments with releasing smaller computer systems was the IBM 5110 Computing System from 1978.
The 5110 was designed to be used for automating common business tasks, such as general ledger and accounts payable. It could also be reprogrammed to provide reports to help management analyse sales, schedule resources, reduce inventory cost and plan future growth.
The 5110 featured a desktop unit that housed a CPU, a keyboard and a 1,024-character display screen. The desktop system unit alone weighed 50 pounds.
It was available with between 16KB and 64KB of memory, and could store as much as 204,000 bytes of information per tape cartridge or 1.2 million bytes on a single diskette.
The Displaywriter System, announced in June 1980, introduced some of the convenience of PC word processing software at a time when documents were generally created on typewriters.
The machine could store and recall documents so they could be revised and could check the spelling of 50,000 commonly-used words.
The system was designed to allow users to produce high quality documents at "rough draft speed".
Displaywriter featured an Intel 8086 processor with 160KB, 192KB or 224KB of RAM and was available with a single or double diskette unit.
A basic system included a display with a typewriter-like keyboard, a printer and a device to read and write to diskettes, which was capable of storing more than 100 pages of text.
Two printers were available with the machine, initially the 5215, a Selectric-based printer similar to the magnetic card Selectric typewriters and later an IBM 'Daisywheel' printer.
The System/23 Datamaster was announced by IBM's General Systems Division in July 1981, only one month before the IBM PC.
The Datamaster is an all-in-one computer with a built-in text mode CRT display, keyboard and two 8-inch floppy disk drives.
The machine was powered by an 8-bit 8085 and had 256KB of memory. A BASIC interpreter was also built into the computer.
The intention of Datamaster was to provide a computer that could be operated without specialists and the machine was designed to be operated by novice users.
The machine came with a choice of two printers and accounting and word processing software. A full function data processing installation, with a single computer and an 80 character-per-second printer cost $9,830, which according to IBM was its "cheapest solution at that time".