PCs

TR Dojo Quiz: IBM PC celebrates 30th anniversary

The IBM Personal Computer celebrates its 30th anniversary this week, take our IBM PC quiz and test your knowledge of this piece of computer history.

On August 12, 1981, IBM introduced the company's "smallest, lowest-priced computer system" to date--the IBM Personal Computer. This Friday, the IBM PC will celebrate its 30th anniversary. And although IBM is no longer in the PC business, it's worth looking back at one of Big Blue's most notable contributions to computer history. Here's a quick pop quiz on the IBM PC.

Check out pictures of the IBM PC in our gallery, "IBM PC celebrates 25th anniversary." Note: Unfortunately, our poll tool, which I use to create each pop quiz, doesn't let me indicate a correct answer after each question. To keep from giving away the answers before everyone has a chance to test his/her knowledge, and ruining all the fun, I've published the answers on the last page of this blog post. I encourage everyone to answer all the questions before looking at the last page or using your favorite search engine to find the answers.

Answers are on the next page.

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

51 comments
shall
shall

My PC was an 8086, only 64k base ram and with floppy controller and CGA card was $3200 after tax in 1981.

drkeshav
drkeshav

Good old PC-AT I posted my views in the morning as well. Well, I still remember the purchase of first PC about 25 years ago. For Rs. 60000.00 (a very big sum in those days in India) I got PC-At and the entire city was excited. "Dr. Sharma has the fastest PC" was the comments. Later I bought almost all other generations of PC and I still have all of them. Some are in in working conditions. 1 MB RAM and 20 MB HDD was something people would not believe. And to tell you the truth even 20MB was more than enough space. How time flies and now 4 GB RAM and 500 GB HDD are nothing. A 8 MB processor was considered to be very fast. No viruses etc. Progress will never cease and a time will come when man will use thoughts to do every thing - no hardware. Thanks for taking me down to 25 years back into the memory lane.

drkeshav
drkeshav

Persuation needed Let me add something more. In my university, I had to persuade the then vice-chancellor to establish a computer centre. It took time. And then the university departments bought simple PC-XT. It was after many years that a proper computer facility was established and PC-486 was the star of the centre. Even now I have to advise people what to buy and what to avoid. PC or Laptop buying is a kind of rat race in India. You invest money in i-5 or quadcore i-7 laptop or PC just for typing a few letters. Funny! Still when I go back to the early days of PC, my days spent in UK and USA in early 1984, my window shopping in Florida markets for commodore PC, I find the present situation awesome. This generation can not imagine how keen some of us were to buy a PC in 80's.

p309_
p309_

My goodness, what a bunch of geeks!! I've been called a geek before, but you guys really ARE geeks. Great learning piece for a younger tech. Thanks

drkeshav
drkeshav

Wonderful discussion. At this old age, I still remember my purchase of first PC (8088) followed by the purchase of XT, PC-At, and 386 etc. I still remember, I went to UK from India to present a research paper in a technology conference in 1984. There, in one session, one delegate was demonstrating a software, perhaps Turtle". There were a number of PCs in front of us, but I had never seen a PC. I used to work on Main frames occasionally, the punched cards and all that of that era. I wished I could buy one. On coming back to India, I purchased my first PC for Rs. 60,000.00 (when my salary was not even in four figures). I have almost all the generations of PCs and I am planning to establish a small museum for kids to see how we used those machines. I also remember, when I purchased PC-AT, the town, where I live in India, was astonished and word went round that Dr. Sharma has the most powerful computer. And when I upgraded RAM from 1 mb to 2 mb, again there was uproar. Those were the fine days remembering all commands by heart and MS-DOS the soul. And immediately afterward, my fight with first viruses started in earnest. Well friends, progress will never stop and new generations will never realize how we reached the present level. From reading the discussion I believe most of the contributers are professionals who have seen all those good old days. I feel all of us should share our experiences in details. Thanks a lot. Have a good day.

Bduffel
Bduffel

and the rest's history...I really thought that Motorola chip was in the PC, the 8088 in the XT and the 8086 in the AT...and then there was the System 25 "portable" and what was in it?

Sensor Guy
Sensor Guy

Actually, if memory serves me right, there were three parallel and competing development efforts. One was based on COTS Intel 8088, the other was based on Motorola 68xx and the third was based on an IBM internal processor family which had powered the IBM 5100/5110/5120 and System/23. The 8088 went to the commercial PC line, the 68xx wound up in the IBM Instruments 9000 lab system and also became a follow-on candidate for the 1130CS processor used in 47FG which was a unified non-IP communications PBX decades ahead of its time that never got announced for which the IBM Cabling System was developed for. The internal processor died after being used for some very successful internal diagnostic systems.

sjkuehn
sjkuehn

When was the first Portable Computer made? It was 1975 and it was an IBM 5100 made by the IBM Lab in Rochester Minnesota. Six years before the IBM PC (Personal Computer)

Charles Bundy
Charles Bundy

I got this one right, but I swear reading a BYTE magazine article circa 1985-86 which stated that there were two development boards and one of them was targeting the 6809. Am I misremembering?

Nipomo Bus Driver
Nipomo Bus Driver

I just purchased two mac book pro's, 15" and 17", got a time capsule, and a bunch of other crap, around $10,000. this is about 2x what I paid for my original 8088 PC. I paid about $5,500 for my PC in 1981. This was a PC originally with 64K memory, a com card, video card, I can't remember what the other cards were but all five slots were full, oh a serial port and a parallel port. I had to get combo cards latter on to expand memory. I added a 256k memory card latter, I also added a 30 meg hard drive, I had to change the BIOS. This was hard to come by. The com card ran a 300 bod modem, it actually only ran about 150bod. I had two 160 k floppy drives each cost about 580 bucks. About 2 months latter IBM came out with double sided 360 k floppy drives. I was sick over a thousand dollars in drives suddenly became expensive paper weights. I never purchased anything from IBM after that. After thirty years of fighting the PC I'm in the process of becoming an apple freak.

Nipomo Bus Driver
Nipomo Bus Driver

The best OS for the PC at the time was Digital Research CPM86 this was a multi user os that was much better, the problem it was sold for around 600 bucks vs DOS for 60 bucks. DR made it so expensive it didn't sell.

joe
joe

This is really a tough one for those of us who started out building our first PC (Heath H8) and owned an Timex Sinclair PC. Another words, we are getting to the age where our memory is starting to slip, if you will. But, both the Z80 and the 8088 were the fore runner to what we have today. I myself wrote code for the 6502, yes, used in Apples and used alot in the the computing world back then. All in all, we have come a long way baby!

proctor.mark.a
proctor.mark.a

The answer to question 10 isn't strictly correct is it? MS-DOS was IBM's DOS with the copyright messages changed... 95% of MS-DOS was written by IBM. I believe this was most of the reason for the long-standing feud between the two companies.

learn4ever
learn4ever

Shopping for new computer hardware back in the 80's was so much fun! And there weren't too many rip-offs at that time either.

learn4ever
learn4ever

I was just reminiscing the other day about how exciting the early days of the PC were! There was always some exciting news about an advance or new application! I miss those days sometimes. I don't miss my Kapro portable or IBM PC much though. Maybe a little.

Sensor Guy
Sensor Guy

Even at my old age at 58, I am still developing and coding away on Arduino, Parallax and other systems. Maybe I get better with age but I find that experience helps me develop faster with less errors since I won't repeat the mistakes of the past, seeing them over and over again but maybe with different names. When you've developed commercial, industrial and scientific custom and COTS code in over 25 languages and hundreds of platforms you see the progression, same mistakes, same fixes, same theories, same hopes, same sales pitches, over and over again. People look at you funny when you say: "The first time I saw that problem was in late 1970! Here's the fix I've used every decade since!" The cloud computing paradigm shift du jour is the one I love to have fun with when talking to young serious engineers who absolutely believe that cloud is the cure of all ills and sales types who think they have the pitch down so pat they can't miss. I guess people can't seem to visualize the data if they got into the business after the punch card! They also can't visualize the long hours sitting in a court house or lawyer's office I've spent mitigating, correcting, enforcing or paying for contractual mistakes and technological evangelism gone wrong. Recently, I was asked to attend an IBM cloud presentation by an old friend who is a CEO of a major healthcare company. He wanted me to actively comment on the pitch, since his people were definitely committed to the cloud concept. The pitch was led by 3 senior IBM IT architects. One remembered me, and said" "sh_t, I know this guy, you can't con him!" By the time the pitch was over the project was over, and back to RFP stage and re-write. The 3 IBMers were sent home packing with 43 questions from me they couldn't answer. The CIO laughed, then said: "Job well done. Let's go have dinner and celebrate the value of experience over irrational IT technology exuberance. You saved me from wasting a few million in errors today." There's also a whole new set of stories including many funny ones with end user, since now I program for Droid and other smartphones. It's not work, it's fun. It's a calling of sorts.

lsb4000
lsb4000

Before the Thinkpad, IBM had four portable computers, the first two weighing more than 40 pounds. The first was the 5100 and the second was the 5155. The 5155 was basically a PC built into a luggable enclosure that also included a 9" CRT. The 5155 was followed by the IBM "Convertable" which was much more svelte, but still pretty heavy. All of these were Intel 8088-based. The fourth was the P70/P75 which was still in the luggable class, but was based on either the 80386 or 80486. The P70 and P75 had monochrome plasma displays and were very expensive. I wanted one until the Thinkpad came out.

lsb4000
lsb4000

There may have been some Motorola-based competition. Don Estridge studied the Apple II (Motorola-based) and a Zilog Z-80 board that made the Apple II CPM-compatible. I helped him buy the Z-80 board. At the time I was using an Zenith/Heath H-89 which was Z-80-based. I'm not sure they ever built any motherboards based on anything but the 8088. That said, the PC group did not consider the 5120 Datamaster/System/23 8085 processor for more than a few microseconds. It was an 8-bit machine with serious memory limitations. They didn't consider the 5100/5110 processor either for the reasons I stated above (internal pricing and RISC limitations). IBM liked the Motorola M68000 and used it in many internal products in the later years. The M68000 was available in 1979 so this is probably what the PC group looked at and decided there was a lack of production and a lack of I/O chips to support a full system. I don't think they looked at the 6809 very seriously because it was limited in ways similar to the Intel 8085. The exciting processor at the time was still on the drawing boards. It was the ROMP 801 RISC processor developed at IBM Research. It was still in simulation and prototype form, so it couldn't be a candidate. As I understand it, the 801 was the basis for a later co-development effort with Motorola that became the Power PC family of processors which powered the RS/6000 and a bunch of Apple machines. Had the 801 been the basis of the PC, the world would definitely been different.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

It is indeed. That was a typo. All fixed now.

C&N; Consulting
C&N; Consulting

Hewlett-Packard's 9800 line of desktop computers was even earlier. I was using a 9825 at work at the time the IBM 5100 was announced.

172pilot
172pilot

I think you're right.. My memory is that they actually WANTED to use the 6809, amd I THINK they already had OS/9 written for it, but there was a supply constraint at motorola and they couldn't guarantee chips in high enough volumes to make IBM happy... As an old TRS-80 COCO fan (6809 chip), I love to think what MIGHT have been.. The 6809 was SUCH a better chip IMO.. and when the 68000 came out against the 80286, the differences were even more pronounced.. (Anyone remember Segment:Address addressing modes in Assembly? YUK!)

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

But if you want something slightly expensive back then an Appetence stuffed up a Cable from the Mainframe to a Terminal in the Boss office and feed Unregulated Mains Power into the Logic Circuits of one of the Big Iron units. He didn't learn by his experience but did it again when I finally got the system up and running again. He obviously knew better than me and didn't need to listen to what he was told. When he blew it the second time I was inside the Frame doing some work and Molten Copper is [b]Hot[/b] not something you want to experience I assure you. The last I saw of that Appetence was him disappearing into the distance with me in Hot Pursuit trying to stick a 24 inch long blade Phillips Screwdriver through him and nail him to a wall with his feet 3 inches off the floor. Blasted Apprentices could run fast back then. ;) Same guy 3 years latter nearly got me in Prison for manslaughter because he refitted some 3 Phase Plugs to a pile of Frames after hours and one of the people there got electrocuted. Didn't matter that I had fenced off the frames taken out of service or removed the power Plugs because I was the senior tech doing the service work I was responsible for the death that happened somewhere around 2.00 am in a room that was supposed to be empty. Or that the dead guy had cut the Temp Fencing down and walked through the Clean Room to get coffee for the other workers in another room. No the guy wasnt working for IBM then but he was working for the bank that the dead guy worked for. If there where not so many Cops arounf I would have caught him that time. :0 Apparently Coffee and Electricity don't mix very well when you fall into an open Frame after sticking your foot in an open trench and falling over. :^0 Col

Sensor Guy
Sensor Guy

If memory serves me right, DR-DOS became the base for the IBM Point-of-Sale (POS) operating systems OS/4680 and OS/4690, which still has a huge install base throughout the retail industry worldwide.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

Garry Killane if that's the right spooling priced [i]Digital Research CPM86[/I] by taking into account the time it took to develop and the number of copies that he expected to sell and divided one by the other which resulted in a minimum price required break even let alone make a profit. Prior to the IBM PC computers where very expensive and very few where being sold. So to recover costs they had to guess on how many possible units could be sold and compare that to the Development Costs. If you go one step further the Original Space Invaders Chip cost $25,000.00 for one of the then Game Consol. which had a very limited number produced so to make even a small profit the developer needed to get 25K for each IC that they sold with the Game Embedded in it. What was never expected was that PC's would sell in the number that they did and as a direct result several years after the IBM PC became available the Space Invaders IC was just a few cents because millions of them had been sold as apposed to the few hundred thousand that was originally environed could be sold. While I was never directly involved in that side of things I did know people who where and I can remember buying a Vic 20 Space Invaders Cartridge for $25.00 about that time for the kids. It was then that one of the Techs involved in Arcade Game Consoles told me about the costs of the Space Invaders IC which was the heart of those Cartridges. Latter they got even cheaper and when computers or PC's became more powerful the IC was relegated to the rubbish bin and the entire app was run as Code with better graphics and speed that was ever achieved by those Old Game Consoles. Digital Research CPM86 was considerably more expensive to develop than Space Invaders and did a much better job so it was considerably more expensive. Even DR DOS cost more than M$ DOS which was nothing but a really cheap nasty copy of DR Dos. If the Official Lie of the time was to be believed the guy who coined DOS [i]Dirty operating System[/I] bought a DR DOS Manual for $15.00 and then using the Commands listed wrote his own OS with similar commands available but without the Switches that where available in DR DOS. Actually the correct name was Intergalactic Digital Research DOS and Bill Gates supposedly sent IBM to DR to obtain a OS as M$ didn't have one then and had never made any attempt to write one. According to Legend of the time the IBM Suits arrived at DR demanded that Garry's Wife sign a Confidently Agreement without first telling who they where or what it was about and she promptly refused and threw them out. At the time I was working IBM Mainframes and could completely believe that story as it was the way that the Suits carried on even in the Sales Department. If anything the Higher Up's where even worse. I got into a bulk amount of trouble for repairing Main Boards for the then Current generation Mainframes which had a Polyester Capacitor which was rated to 20 C where as here the average daily summer temps where 32 C before we even applied any power. What the Higher up's wanted was for me to return these Circuit Boards to the US for Reconditioning which cost us 15K when I was fitting a 5 cent Green Cap which didn't fail again. Apparently it was OK to have most of the Systems here out of commission because this Cap had failed and it was way wrong that I not only fixed them but my fix didn't break again. Didn't matter that I charged them out at Recco Prices apparently having a Minus Number of 45 was unacceptable to the Accountants who loved the money it brought in, but not the paperwork that they had to do to stop their Software Package asking difficult questions. :D They where nothing if not interesting days back then. :^0 Col

Sensor Guy
Sensor Guy

The real interesting stuff is that some of it, primarily software, has changed little in concept, even though we've gone a long way. I was working with some Arduino and Parallax hardware yesterday and it dawned on me that some of the same problems of the 70's are still with us today. Still compiling on that host (albeit a PC, then downloading down a USB instead of a serial port!

Sensor Guy
Sensor Guy

DOS was written by neither IBM or Microsoft. It was written for the most part as Quick and Dirty DOS (QDOS) by Tim Patterson of Seattle Computer Products. The source of this myth might be Windows versus OS/2. IBM wanted to go with OS/2 but after the UK team wrote such a nice interface for Windows MS decided to go with Windows and abandon OS/2. The user interface, in the eyes of Microsoft trumped a true multi-tasking proprietary operating system.

lsb4000
lsb4000

You are right about alll the hype surrounding "the cloud." back in 1968 I heard a pitch by Prof. Zadah, the father of fuzzy logic. In his pitch he offered the premise that computing goes in cycles, starting witha big central machine, to terminals, to intelligent terminals, to stand alone nodes, to consolidation to central computing, then terminals, and so on. I think the cloud is back to consolidation and after it crashes and large groups of people lose their data, they'll come up with a way to run the cloud on local machines...

Sensor Guy
Sensor Guy

You're right...portable? That's what caused me to get a hernia in my back! Good box, the display was based on the 3290 gas plasma display, but a cheaper iteration of it. I used it a little while back with FELINE (a line monitor product) that I got when helping sell the PC-Mux product (later lobotomized and called PNA). The convertible was the 5140. Let's not forget the LX40, the first truly IBM portable that had the blue LCD (it was liquid) display. Still a little heavy, but it was much more powerful than the convertible. It was cased in a pearl white clam shell. Big display for its time. I guess we all want to forget the nightmare "Peanut" with the chicklet keyboard! I just saw a rolled-up bendable keyboard yesterday and it brought back nightmares. They keyboard was for industrial use, but certainly not for commercial use!

lsb4000
lsb4000

The first portable, the 5100 was based on the internal IBM processor, not the 8088.

Sensor Guy
Sensor Guy

We are both right. The processor I was thinking was the PALM, not the 801. I always believed the Austin RISC crowd was really mid-range, not micro based because of their UNIX bent until the PowerPC came along. The ROMP is where I think the politico Mark Dean comes in. He claims he was part of the PC business but he was in Austin with the RISC crowd if I recall correctly. I guess since every one who was on Estridge's team is probably gone and has mixed emotions about IBM and what they did to Don they needed someone close of that time to claim to be an insider. If you bought the Z-80 board for Don then you'll know me. I was the only one of the GSD SE types who rejected joining his team in Boca when he asked me to join. I was in Myrtle Beach, SC living the single life selling small systems and programming the 51xx boxes like crazy but refused to go to Boca because I had had a poor experience with S/7 down there and I had just gotten engaged to my future wife.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

In my area, I'm not aware of a major retailer that isn't using OS/4690. Even NCR has an interface to OS/4690.

172pilot
172pilot

That's what I was remembering too.. It was actually a variant of "DRM DOS" (DR MULTIUSER DOS) if I remember correctly. Originally, it ran on the old 8 mhz 286 AT hardware, and ran those old store systems quite nicely. I worked for a Systems Support group for a large national grocery chain. Later versions were written for the 8580 386 PS2 models and were just that much better. I remember taking some of our install disks home and trying to get the POS OS installed on some clones I had at home, just to get more familiar with the modified OS, but I never could get it installed properly. Something about my disks not being ESDI or SCSI if I remember right.. Those were the days.

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

Windows was maybe a concept at that time. These were the days of command lines and ASCII graphics. DOS was DOS, and GUI was still years away. OS/2 began around 5 years later, with the 386. The old 8088 and 80286 (PC-AT) didn't have the instruction set to support a multitasking kernel. The displays were memory-mapped (B000 and B800), and with only 256K max ram (64K was about average), there wasn't room to run much overhead. The 5150 PC was 360K floppy-based. How much graphics would you do with 32K CGA, 64K RAM, and 720K total available disk storage? [edit: and a 4.77 MHz 8-bit processor, 8087 math co-processor was optional and expensive] Even a mouse was years away from the consumer market. Windows and OS/2 were a long way down the road. But the 5150 was a big step up from S-100 and CP/M, and it was IBM.

proctor.mark.a
proctor.mark.a

I bow to your greater wisdom sir. My assumption was based on the Joint Development Agreement made by IBM and Microsoft for Advanced DOS (which later became OS/2 as you say). I think the important thing is it wasn't developed by Microsoft. My apologies to Mr Patterson.

Sensor Guy
Sensor Guy

As a "Private Intra-Enterprise Cloud". They are already also re-visiting the perennial problems of the old X.400 addressing and X.75 problems we had in connecting X.25 "clouds" (oops, I meant carrier networks)! They haven't even thought of the legal and transient performance problems, although Bob Cringley (who I met and worked with at the time of the Three Mile Island accident - he as an on-site junior suave reporter spy for Congress and me as an intern student nuclear reactor engineer on the team trying to make sense of what happened) just started on his blog talking about "Blufferbloat" (remember Token-Ring buffers?), ISP (Carrier) pricing, ISP legal malfeasance and all the old problems that we should be expecting based on past IT history. IT technology is like GIRD (Gastrointestinal Reflux Disease)....it keeps coming back with the old heartburns! Some kids asked me what is new in networking. My response was that the interfacing had gotten simpler and it's faster. They asked what I thought about this advance. I responded: "Disasters now happen quicker, with no one having a chance to see what happened and more massively, since everyone is now connected!"

Sensor Guy
Sensor Guy

As I said here and elsewhere, now that IBM has trotted out with Mark Dean and claimed him as an original PC engineer and designer, we both know that he wasn't there in Boca, that's for sure. He was in Austin at the time if my memory serves me right working on the RT using the 601/801 RISC processors. I've still got in my attic the full list of the attendees and teachers and visitors of the S/23 T-3 taught in downtown Atlanta, right around CNN headquarters and the skating rink. I'll have to see if you're on the list.

Sensor Guy
Sensor Guy

that turned Don down. I'm sure there were plenty of lab and staff types that did, but in my case it was due to the field experience of 51XX and the S/23 sales and installs he wanted. Even as an SE, I got to go to the Golden Circle. I still have the old ITPS message my manager gave me surreptiously from Don saying that to my Regional Manager at that time. Lew had promised me to Don as part of a bigger deal, so I got a lot of pressure to go. It could have been a career killer, but fortunately the folks that eventually took me to a pre-management staff assignment were DPD and SDD. They obviously didn't care.

lsb4000
lsb4000

The name Mark Dean doesn't ring a bell. There were a lot of people involved with the PC at different stages. My friends were in the original 12 and they are the ones I kept up with. After the abortive home computer, I went to Syste,/23 and headed one of the software development groups. I then went to Series/1 and was in the organization Estridge left. Our organiztion brought quantity discount pricing to IBM, which set the stage for pricing the PC. That's why I know so much about how the COTS decisions were made.

lsb4000
lsb4000

I don't think I do know you. You weren't the only person who turned the PC group down. I was one too. I probably would have headed the software effort since that was my position in a project that predated the PC by two years to develop a home computer. This was the project that I said GPD sent to GSD. Our project didn't make it because GSD felt their mission was small business, not the home. We had built prototypes and had some very advanced ideas (like I/O communicating through the wall plug and really attractive packaging). We also worked with Raleigh to develop the $27 keyboard that the PC used although the PC group changed the layout. After killing our project, to keep the funding that came from GPD, GSD ran a one man home computer project until Akers discovered that his pet project had disappeared. He was not happy about this. That's when GSD scrambled and charged Don Estridge with the PC. I was considered as an expert in this area, so Don approached me to join his forming group. Not wanting to join another abortive effort, I turned him down---not one of my finest moments. I probably would have headed the software effort. Many of my System/23 and Series/1 colleagues joined Don and, during the development, often asked my opinion on several things. That doesn't mean they took my advice, though. They asked me what operating system they should use and I told them they should acquire Benton Harbor DOS, the OS in the Hath/Zenith machines. They wanted something fast and cheap, so they ended up with Microsoft. They asked me about it and gave me access to a prototype running MS-DOS. The first thing I did was to inadvertently format the system diskette. MS-DOS didn't check to see if the diskette was already formatted, as Benton Harbor DOS did. MS-DOS also didn't detect the removal/replacement of an active diskette, which I felt was a major oversight and was a feature of Benton Harbor DOS. By then I was told it was too late to deal with these issues. This was an Estridge characteristic--he was notorious for his "damn the torpedoes--we have a schedule to make" attitude. In his prior life his products had some nasty gotchas. However, this Estridge quality is what got the PC out the door on such a short schedule. The group fixed the mistakes with later versions. I often muse about what might have happened if I had joined Don's project. I don't think we would have ended up with Microsoft and the keyboard would have had a real typewriter layout... I should add that my wife did eventually join the PC group and became a monkey-monk in the PC marketing organization. Anyway, you weren't the only one who turned Don down.

Sensor Guy
Sensor Guy

In my offices in White Plains and in Paris I had a picture of the BetaMax and the VHS to remember that and point it out to development engineers.

Sensor Guy
Sensor Guy

I alluded to the System/7 (5010), Series/1 (495x), 1800 and System/3 (54xx) because I was driving the point that good, strong, engineering in those early days was trumped by market arrival and cost and highly paid sales. When the government anti-trust case was going badly (we won it later) an internal decision was made to prepare to split the company into the GSC (then GSD/GTD) corporation and to give them the lower end, lobotomized products. Armonk would keep the water cooled, high margin stuff. They even gave GTD a failed technology called FS which was later re-incarnated as STS or Olympic/Pacific which many now know as the S/38-AS/400-iSeries family. Every time Armonk gave GTD a piece of dog doo, it turned into a success. Even the S/1, which was designed only because the lawyers wanted to expand the definition of the market for the lawsuit and thus improve the chances of winning, turned out a winner financially in spite of itself. In contrast, other than the 360-370-30xx monopoly and its forced attached processors, the large end failed to hit home runs with their highly complex products (e.g. Orbit-3790-8100) as well as the OPD types (OSD). In every case, internally developed, highly complex and finely engineered products failed, yet home grown, jerry rigged products always won out in the market. That's what got Cary-Opel to think about going all external COTS with the PC. Today's IBM, has gone 360 back to the past. The Armonk finance types think that because of the cloud the mainframe is back and they can charge huge margins again, with services to boot. They want the PC to be perceived as dead because they want the computing back inside the data center where it can be controlled and exploited financially. The problem is that the PC isn't dead, it's just morphed into a lot of different formats, specialized for function, display and input. The carriers are about to kill the cloud because they want to charge metered rates, which will turn the financial merits of the cloud against it. The 5100 was the first, then the 5110, then the 5120 and then the S/23 DataMaster which was the 5322. The 5320 had been allocated to another product, the System 32 and the 5321 to the OP magnetic card reader I/O unit. The 5322 used the 8085, and yes it was a dog compared to the 8086. The UC was an interesting idea, but as you say, was too expensive and the engineers on it too inflexible. It was used on the IBM 8100. The retail folks saw it because they were using the same loop technology for the Point of Sale product.. The 5100, which was the first product, announced in 2Q 1975 (don't remember the date, I went to the T-3 in June) used the IBM PALM processor (Put All Logic in Microcode) family. The PALM was used in the 5110 and 5120, but when they went to S/23 (5322) they went with Intel 8085 and thus the performance story, which they tried to fix in vain with spooling and the faux multi-tasking.... You are right about the cost. The PALM guys wanted too much money and held the product planners hostage so Armonk just cut them out. To know about the UC processor in RS you were there too, probably in that rat infested old Winn Dixie warehouse called B602. BTW, I heard Len F., the sweet talker that was Akers' old buddy when he was the POS product planner who then moved on to destroy IBM's communications business with Ellen passed away. I'm the guy who pulled the pin and threw the hand grenade when I asked the question "So, what is an object?" in the meeting that started the famous fist fight that killed "Fort Knox". It was an act of mercy....

lsb4000
lsb4000

Sensor Guy, I think you may have confused a few products in the IBM History. The 5110 was the first "portable" computer made by IBM. It used an IBM reduced instruction set processor that, through an emulation program emulated the 360 instruction set. Its native user language was APL and it was also available with a BASIC interpreter. The 5120 was the Datamaster nad tried to follow the 5110. It was definitely a step down from the 5110 in that it was based on an Intel 8085 processor. The machine that was built on a better platform than the PC was the DisplayWriter, which was a stand-alone word processor based on an Intel 8086. It was developed by Office Products division and was successful in its own right, having been introduced a year or two before the PC. It suffered from classic IBM pricing at 5 times its internal cost and Office Products did not have the general purpose computer mission. The PC was based on a "dumbed down" 8086, the Intel 8088. The 8088 had an 8-bit data buss versus the 8086's 16-bit buss, so the I/O was faster on the DisplayWriter. You alluded to the IBM 1800, which had a very good processor that predated the PC by at least 15 years. The problem with it was that it wasn't a microprocessor. The IBM System/7 and Series/1 also had excellent processors but neither were microprocessors (discrete logic processors are too big and expensive for a desktop machine). The only available IBM internal processor that might have worked with the PC was the one used in the Retail Systems, called the Universal Controller. The problem with it was internal pricing and the fact that it would have caused the development of the PC to take longer. It certainly would have been interesting if the PC had been built on the UC .5 processsor. The PC made it largely because it was based on components that didn't have internal pricing attached the them and the decision to go with a pricing model that was about 3 times the internal cost of the machine. I was there too...

dhays
dhays

the difference between BetaMax and VHS.

proctor.mark.a
proctor.mark.a

How much graphics would you do with 32K CGA, 64K RAM, and 720K total available disk storage? Quite a lot. Anyone else remember GEOS for the C64? AMS even created a working GUI for the 48k ZX Spectrum. Just to clarify if I may, my original error was due to thinking the JDA between IBM and M$ was made for DOS. As SensorGuy has quite rightly corrected me on, this JDA pertains to development of Advanced DOS (ie. OS/2). At no point have I thought Windows (or OS/2) were developed at the same time as DOS.

Bduffel
Bduffel

about the time that Msft started naming products?

Sensor Guy
Sensor Guy

The 5230 was a follow-on from Rochester/Boca (GSD/GPD) of the 2790 Data Collection system that never flew in the marketplace. The follow-on was actually called the "S/23 DataMaster" and I don't remember is product number (and I don't want to) although many of us called it the "DataDog". After the "DataDog" (DataMaster), the "ScumMaster" (aka ScanMaster) and the "LineDog" (aka IBM 3710 "LineMaster") we finally got smart and dropped giving products names.

Sensor Guy
Sensor Guy

The discussion about Windows was about correcting an erroneous reference to IBM's contribution to the original PC-DOS, which was nil. Their key contribution to software would come later, as you correctly stated, when hardware capable of windows came about and that was the correction I was pointing out. As to a step up, the 5150 (if you were an engineer at IBM then) was internally joked as a step down because of COTS component selection requirement of the design, just like the 5230 was a step down from the 5110/5120. It's just the market didn't see it because it was strictly an IBM engineering internal discussion. Had we gone the route of introducing the follow-on of the 5120 as the 5150, computing history might have been a lot different. I am ashamed to say I was part of that decision, even though the 5150, along with the 5010 (1800) and the 5410 (20xx) proved that a poor product that is cheaper could trounce a more complex or better product that was more expensive. We proved it right again with the 495x (S/1) and then managed to make the same mistake in the communications arena with Token Ring versus Ethernet, but those are stories for other days and threads.

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