On August 12, 1980, IBM released the IBM PC. From the IBM achives:
It sold for $1,565.
Non-IBM personal computers were available as early as the mid-1970s, first as do-it-yourself kits and then as off-the-shelf products. They offered a few applications but none that justified widespread use.
Drawing on its pioneering SCAMP (Special Computer, APL Machine Portable) prototype of 1973, IBM's General Systems Division announced the IBM 5100 Portable Computer in September 1975. Weighing approximately 50 pounds, the 5100 desktop computer was comparable to the IBM 1130 in storage capacity and performance but almost as small and easy to use as an IBM Selectric Typewriter. It was followed by similar small computers such as the IBM 5110 and 5120.
IBM's own Personal Computer (IBM 5150) was introduced in August 1981, only a year after corporate executives gave the go-ahead to Bill Lowe, the lab director in the company's Boca Raton, Fla., facilities. He set up a task force that developed the proposal for the first IBM PC. Early studies had concluded that there were not enough applications to justify acceptance on a broad basis and the task force was fighting the idea that things couldn't be done quickly in IBM. One analyst was quoted as saying that "IBM bringing out a personal computer would be like teaching an elephant to tap dance." During a meeting with top executives in New York, Lowe claimed his group could develop a small, new computer within a year. The response: "You're on. Come back in two weeks with a proposal."
The system unit was powered by an Intel 8088 microprocessor operating at speeds measured in millionths of a second. It was the size of a portable typewriter and contained 40K of read-only memory and 16K of user memory, as well as a built-in speaker for generating music. Its five expansion slots could be used to connect such features as expanded memory, display and printing units and game "paddles." The unit also ran self-diagnostic checks.I can remember working on XT's (10 MB HDD) and AT's. The 286 was a screamer for just under $3,000. It came with a CGA monitor that by itself sold for $600 under state contract pricing. Without an operating system the PC booted directly into BASIC.
Containing 83 keys, the keyboard was connected to the unit by a six-foot coiled cable, which meant users could rest it in their lap or on the desktop without moving the rest of the system. It also included such advanced functions for the times as a numeric keypad and 10 special keys that enabled users to write and edit text, figure accounts and store data.
•A printer that could print in two directions at 80 characters per second in 12 different character styles, and also check itself for malfunctions and provide an out-of-paper signal.
•A color/graphics monitor with 16 foreground and background colors and 256 characters for text applications. Its graphics were in four colors.
•Multiple 32K and 64K memory cards that could be plugged into the option slots to increase memory to 256K.
Needing new channels to distribute these new computers, IBM turned to ComputerLand; Sears, Roebuck and Co.; and IBM Product Centers to make the IBM PC available to the broadest set of customers.
The response to the announcement was overwhelming. One dealer had 22 customers come in and put down $1,000 deposits on the machines for which he could not promise a delivery date. By the end of 1982, qualified retail outfits were signing on to sell the new machine at the rate of one-a-day as sales actually hit a system-a-minute every business day. Newsweek magazine called it "IBM's roaring success," and the New York Times said, "The speed and extent to which IBM has been successful has surprised many people, including IBM itself."
I can still remember my first 66 MB MFM HDD. Unattached to a PC, it was a deadly weapon if hurled at an unsuspecting head, it weighed more than a brick and took 45 minutes for a high level format.