Saturday, August 12, 2006

IBM PC turns 25 - Aug 12, 2006

It's hard to believe that so much time has passed...but equally hard to remember when we didn't rely on our ubiquitous PCs (Apple's included, of course!). My first 'personal computer' was a Sinclair ZX-81, subsequently marketed by Timex which was also from 1981 as I recall. You hooked the keyboard/computer up to your TV as a monitor, and used a cassette tape recorder to input games and programs. I purchased the 32K RAM expansion module as well!

My first real job was as a computer programmer, on the IBM 360 and 370 mainframe machines, when we used punchcards for input and humongous printouts and 'core dumps' to see where we went wrong. Having *any* kind of a monitor -- even a TV set -- was a treat!

"The May-December marriage of a young company called Microsoft and business powerhouse IBM would change the landscape of offices and homes across the globe.

August 12 is the 25th anniversary of the IBM personal computer launch, a pairing of MS and DOS, Microsoft and the disk operating system.

'MS-DOS moved computer access from a community measured in thousands to one measured in millions,' said Benn Konsynski, professor of business administration at Emory University's Goizueta Business School.

'It was a key transition from the hobbyist and 'geek' environment to business applications,' he said.

Several popular home computers existed before the 1981 IBM PC launch. But the regimented business world considered Apple, Commodore, and Radio Shack's Tandy products 'toys.'
The IBM stamp of approval on a personal computer changed that mentality for good.
'Almost overnight, with IBM introducing the PC, it became OK to use it for real business applications,' said Tycho Howle, CEO of nuBridges in Atlanta, a provider of business-to-business services.

Howle remembers with fondness his first desktop PC.

'In 1981 I had an IBM PC, two-floppy system,' Howle said.

'To give young people these days a comparison: It would take 10 of those floppy disks to be able to hold the music that is on one MP3 song,' he said.

A floppy disk is a thin, plastic disk that was coated with a magnetic substance used to store data. Earliest disks were 8 inches wide, more efficient disks shrunk to 5 1/4 inches, then 3 1/2 inches. Unlike a CDs or DVDs of today, the disks were floppy, or flexible.

IBM, the 800 pound gorilla of the business world at the time, flooded trade papers and television with promises that this new device would provide "smoother scheduling, better planning, and greater productivity."

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1 comment:

  1. Bill Wright8:00 AM

    Mornin' Norman..
    Yah, does seem impossible...

    While I looked at a Sinclair/Timex, I got lucky and picked up a side consulting gig asd bought a Kaypro II...all 30 self-contained pounds of it. Vaguely remember the OS was put out by a company called Digital Research...and that Gates seemed to have co-opted about half the command names and command line syntax. Convering to MS-DOS was no real issue because of that.

    I fought the good fight against the Redmond Monolith for a while, but since I wondered into mainstream business rather then the art world, I finally got assimilared, because resistance was futile...