IBM PC: The beginnings of the PC revolution and MS-DOS (photos)

IBM PC: The beginnings of the PC revolution and MS-DOS (photos)

Summary: The IBM 5150 not only kicked off the PC industry, it propelled a company from nowhere to dominate the tech industry.

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TOPICS: Hardware
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  • The original IBM 5150 with peripherals

    The original IBM 5150, the personal computer  made its debut at a press conference at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York on August 12, 1981. The IBM 5150 not only kicked off the PC industry, it propelled a company from nowhere to become the dominant force of the tech industry - Microsoft.

    For more, read the story by CNET News' Jay Green on the launch of the IBM 5150 and ZDNet's blog on the birthday of MS-DOS by Adrian Kingley-Hughes.

    Plus, look back at the early days of the PC with Ed Bott's My life before Windows and Jason Perlow's 1991's  PC technology was unbelievable.

    Photo by IBM

    Captions by CNET News' Jay Greene and ZDNet's Andy Smith

    .

  • The IBM 5150 in the office

    The IBM 5150 personal computer was powered by an Intel 8088 processor and contained 40K of read-only memory and 16K of user memory. It had 5 expansion slots for extras such as memory and game paddles. Its basic setup cost $1,565 - down from the $9 million cost of a computer two decades before, according to IBM.

    Surrpisingly, the personal computer had color/graphics capability. An option was a color monitor with 16 foreground and background colors and 256 characters for text applications.

    Other options included a two-direction printer that could print 80 characters per minute and multiple 32K and 64K memory cards that could be plugged into the option slots to increase memory to 256K.

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Topic: Hardware

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  • RE: The beginnings of the PC revolution and MS-DOS (photos)

    My first computer was purchased in 1981 and was a Sanyo 550 with 64K of memory, an amber monitor, two single-sided 180K disk drives, DOS 1.0, Wordstar 1.0, Spellstar 1.0, and Datastar 1.0 - all running at a blazing 2.8 MHz. Those were the days!
    gnuguy1946
    • And I bet it booted faster...

      ...than your modern Windows-based PC with 3+GHz and gigabytes of RAM...
      JohnMcGrew@...
      • Of course...

        @JohnMcGrew@ : My circa 1994, 486DX laptop, 16Mb RAM and Windows 3.11 [most people forget the last 1, which was the one that added TrueType from Apple] booted in under 10 seconds, to a silent C:\> prompt.

        Typing win, would trigger the Win.bat program and that took almost a minute to "boot" to the old and trusty Program Manager (which people think is the great grand father of the iOS Spring Board, but that shows they knew nothing about old windows).

        To me, Windows dreaded boot times appear to lie not on the kernel, not on the services, but rather the Win95 inherited, post boot "pseudo services" (programs placed on the Startup Folder on the Start menu). Hope those are gone in Windows 9.
        cosuna
      • RE: The beginnings of the PC revolution and MS-DOS (photos)

        @JohnMcGrew@... NO, it did not boot faster. I used one of those, with dual 5.25" floppys. It took forever to boot, even with dos 2.x, and one could hear the drive stepper motors working for any operation: read, write, load etc.
        candide08
      • RE: The beginnings of the PC revolution and MS-DOS (photos)

        @cosuna...

        actually there there were separate windows 3.1 and 3.11 releases, i have both on a shelf in my library
        erik.soderquist
      • RE: The beginnings of the PC revolution and MS-DOS (photos)

        @JohnMcGrew@... ever try to put dos and win3.1 in a new computer? Fast>>>>>>>! but we're spoiled now with the toys new os's have.
        bobmatch@...
  • RE: The beginnings of the PC revolution and MS-DOS (photos)

    The photo of the 5150 has two glaring errors. First, the 5150 monitor was monochrome. Green to be specific. Second, the Epson FX-80 printer in the photo wasn't available until 1983.
    SteveRMann
    • RE: The beginnings of the PC revolution and MS-DOS (photos)

      @SteveRMann
      The color monitor was an alternative, though I have to admit that I don't remember if it was available at the introduction of the 5150. I do remember that the cost of a PC with mono monitor and two floppy drives and, I believe, 512k of RAM was over $5000. I also remember that my first hard drive for the PC was a Corvus 10MB which was about 2'x1'x6" and as loud as a small aircraft and it also was over $5000.
      nfordtchrpub
      • Loverock Davidson said he had two and gave one to Bill something

        Loverock always has had a very short memory. :-)
        Over and Out
    • RE: The beginnings of the PC revolution and MS-DOS (photos)

      @SteveRMann I suspect that everything about the photo is incorrect since the printer wasn't available yet and the color monitor wasn't available either. All the early IBM pcs looked the same. The dual floppys are also a potential sign of a later model.
      STAN113
      • IMHO...

        @STAN113 : I think I remember that photo circa 1982. As always, it might be a prototype created exclusively for the photo shoot and maybe Epson was involved as an authorized partner.<br><br>The color monitor might be just the chassis and the image could have been created on a TV studio (remember that on those days, TV stations had 100k systems for Weather maps creation and could easily coax that image to a regular TV, housed on an IBM enclosure).<br><br>As for the dual floppies, I guess that was available from the start, just restricted to availability of the Floppy controller and the Drive unit themselves (made in America by Shugart Associates, owned by Xerox and with no business relation to Shugart Technology then called Seagate)
        cosuna
      • Yes, the Colors Look Suscpiciously Good for CGA

        @cosuna
        I suspect that if the picture really is from 1981, then the image on screen is faked. The colors look suspiciously good for only CGA graphics, and EGA wasn't introduced until 1984.
        CFWhitman
    • RE: The beginnings of the PC revolution and MS-DOS (photos)

      @SteveRMann But IBM says in "The birth of the IBM PC": "The $1,565 price bought a system unit, a keyboard and a color/graphics capability. Options included a display, a printer..." Options: "A color/graphics monitor with 16 foreground and background colors and 256 characters for text applications. Its graphics were in four colors." The printer stand definitely says IBM and the photo is from IBM. - Andy
      andy7718
      • To be fair, it was **end** of PC revolution, not start of it

        @andy7718: first PC which was actually PC (a complete universal personal computing device attachable to keyboard and monitor) was Apple II, brought in 1977. Before that, there were either "Do it yourself" assembly kits, or boxes with tumblers aka Altair, all of which were <b>nothing</b> like anyone would consider actual PC by any sane standards since late 1970s.
        DDERSSS
      • RE: The beginnings of the PC revolution and MS-DOS (photos)

        @DeRSSS

        Not quite. Removal of the Apple goggles will reveal that the first non-kit 'mass produced' pc was the Micral N, the earliest commercial, non-kit microcomputer based on a microprocessor, the Intel 8008. It was built starting in 1972 and about 90,000 units were sold. In 1976 Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak sold the Apple I computer circuit board, which was fully prepared and contained about 30 chips. The first successfully mass marketed personal computer was the Commodore PET introduced in January 1977. It was soon followed by the TRS-80 from Radio Shack and then the more popular Apple II.
        whatagenda
      • Not quite; removing anti-Apple glasses and gaining ability to read would ..

        @whatagenda: reveal that computer you named was box with tumblers which is nothing like "PC" by contemporary standard that goes to 1977, release of Apple II (universal personal computer with (attachable) keyboard and monitor).
        DDERSSS
    • you sir

      @SteveRMann I knight thy king of thy Geeks....I doff my hat at ones direction
      eatingacheesepastieforlunch
  • RE: The beginnings of the PC revolution and MS-DOS (photos)

    I still have my 5150-works great!8bit vga card,y2k bios card,30mb mfm controller/hdd,10mbps 3com nic,one com port card.Istill hve the cga vid card,but sold the monitor long ago.It gets maintenance every two years now,and runs dos 6.0
    Htos1
  • RE: The beginnings of the PC revolution and MS-DOS (photos)

    Weirdly, I still remember those dos text commands, and my finger still use them sometimes
    TwoHerbs
  • RE: The beginnings of the PC revolution and MS-DOS (photos)

    Seriously, how can IBM take credit for the PC revolution (as what is considered a pc, today) and why would anyone give them credit. They were over 6 years late to the game. The PC ,as we know it, happened in 1975 and was growing by leaps and bounds well before IBM's entry into the "revolution." History becomes so skewed with time. The people that created the "revolution" deserve the credit . Readers of this article please research this and learn for yourself who really began the " PC revolution." The year was 1975. As for Microsoft, they were there at the beginning and deserve full credit for playing a huge role in the revolution.
    hxh18