PCs

30 years of the IBM PC: Back when we had to be convinced to buy a computer

In the 1980s, when the personal computer was still mostly a novelty, we had to be convinced to buy a computer. IBM used an icon personality to make the case for its PC.

Some 30 years ago, when the concept of the personal computer was more of a luxury than a necessity, the general public had to be convinced that they needed to buy a PC. As other manufacturers like AT&T started selling IBM-clones, the marketing team at IBM decided to capture our attention with the iconic image of Charlie Chaplin's lovable tramp.

To this day, I don't know why that iconic image was chosen -- I never got the connection. I can only assume IBM wanted to make us feel more comfortable with this strange new appliance. However, with that being said, I do still remember seeing them.

What early PC commercials do you remember?

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

9 comments
davidibaldwin
davidibaldwin

I vaguely remember the Charlie Chaplin commercial but everyone I knew already had computers before that. One guy had a PDP-11 and knew what to do with it. He was the professional programmer in the group. The rest of us had z80s and S100 systems and other odd systems that had to be babied to keep working.

Geezer-In-Training
Geezer-In-Training

Does anyone else remember when all PCs came with a lock on the front of the cabinet? It allowed you to use a cylindrical key to "lock down" the computer when you had to leave your desk and didn't want anyone else to use the PC/mess with your work. I don't recall anyone ever using the lock, but they were on all PCs at least through the time of the AT and it's clones.

radar_z
radar_z

My first PC was an Apple //e with 64K of RAM plus another 64K on a card with programming allowing bank switching. My wife thought the purchase was a waste of time until I printed out the address labels at Christmas, about 80 in number, and did it in about a minute or two. I was in Heaven when I bought a 1 MB memory card from Applied Engineering. It was fun being able to put in different cards, and I could even program in BASIC. No color and no GUI, but I loved it. Now I am 72 and am happy others can do all the programming. I still install stuff inside my desktop, but it was more fun in the early computer days.

drkeshav
drkeshav

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. My plans are to set up a small museum of all my old PCs and other peripherals for the kids to see and appreciate the progress made in the field of computers. Any suggestions?

drkeshav
drkeshav

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 to 25 years back into the memory lane.

rem
rem

I bought a TRS 80 in 1976.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

What early PC commercial do you still remember vividly?

blackepyon01
blackepyon01

These days you just press [Windows Key]+[L] to lock your desktop. Then only you or someone with administrative access to that PC can unlock it. The key did no good if everybody in the office was using the same machine and the keys weren't unique.

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