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IBM Did Not Invent the Personal Computer

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the you-help-one-just-one-reich dept.

IBM 293

theodp writes "As IBM gives itself a self-congratulatory pat on the back as it celebrates its 100th anniversary, Robert X. Cringely wants to set the record straight: 'IBM didn't invent the personal computer', writes Cringely, 'but they don't know that.' Claiming to have done so, he adds, soils the legacy of Ed Roberts and pisses off all real geeks in the process. Throwing Big Blue a bone, Cringely is willing to give IBM credit for 'having helped automate the Third Reich'."

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"Automate the Third Reich"? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36481150)

I know that not every comparison involving the Nazis is invalid, but does this strike anyone else as being more than a bit reductio ad Hitlerum?

Re:"Automate the Third Reich"? (2)

atari2600a (1892574) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481210)

You know those wrist tattoos from Auchwitz? IBM-formatted punchcard serial numbers.

Re:"Automate the Third Reich"? (3, Insightful)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481250)

Yes, a bit hypocritical to just lay the blame at IBM's feet too. The US has a long history of doing business with criminal regimes from banana republics, to the nazi's, to apartheid South Africa, to regimes like Saudi Arabia today.

Re:"Automate the Third Reich"? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36481738)

If nazi's is correct, then you should write:: U'S, busine's's,regime's,republic's.

Re:"Automate the Third Reich"? (3, Funny)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481888)

Be honest, you made that comment just because of the humor in a grammar nazi pointing out the error in "nazi's" didn't you ?

Re:"Automate the Third Reich"? (5, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#36482132)

While this is true to be fair the ones doing business with the Nazis were the German branch and from what I understand in Hitler's Germany you did what you were told or enjoy your nice trip to the concentration camp. His regime weren't real tolerant of being told no, just look at how the German commanders captured (and secretly recorded0 by the Brits were all in agreement that attacking Russia was a majorly BAD idea, but none had the guts to walk up to the Fuhrer and tell him that.

As for TFA, frankly he is full of shit. Sure you may be able to say technically the first home computer that could be called personal wasn't an IBM, but does anyone run 6502 MOSFET chips anymore? Of course not because IBM PC compatible is the standard PERIOD. Hell even Apple now is IBM PC compatible.

As someone who lived through that time allow me to say thank you IBM, thank you for the 5150 [wikipedia.org] and for being stupid enough to publish specs for everything back then which made building add ons easy. today it would be proprietary as hell and innovation would be right out the window, but thanks to IBM we don't have to throw everything out when we want to upgrade for performance. Folks seem to forget that before the 5150 NOTHING worked together, nothing talked to each other, the drives for A wouldn't work on B, hell even computers by the same company often had incompatible peripherals. As someone who had a Trash80 and a VIC20 frankly it was a royal PITA.

Now thanks to IBM you can buy AMD, Intel or Via, add more RAM or even a new box from a different OEM, it really doesn't matter as it all "just works". Thanks to the hardware being open we were able to route around the douches, like Compaq and their "special RAM", and now it doesn't matter what hardware or even OS you get, your printer still plugs in, you don't need IRQs or futzing or hoping you have the right slots, it all is basically compatible. And frankly that is a GOOD thing. Now if we could only get the same thing in the mobile space, to where laptops had standard motherboards like ATX and mATX, to where we could easily repair or upgrade that would be heaven. Sadly it looks like proprietary in a box will stay in mobile land, which means designed for the dump since third parties can't make cheap parts. Damned shame but thank you IBM for at least giving us one platform that is easy to deal with.

Re:"Automate the Third Reich"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36482432)

Don't forget China.

Re:"Automate the Third Reich"? (4, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481284)

A little bit.

I'm not exactly IBM's biggest fan (having to hammer on 370-series mainframes made me quite the IBM-hater for awhile), but to say that IBM automated the Nazis would be akin to saying that {insert item here} helped to {insert what that item does} the Nazis.

I mean, I'm pretty sure that WWII Germany had light bulbs, motion pictures, aircraft, NCR calculators (the old mechanical kind), and lots of other things pioneered by American individuals and companies. I'm also willing to bet that many of them were used directly in facilitating the Holocaust as well.

Hell, Henry Ford was an open admirer of Hitler's policies before (and even in the pre-US stages of) WWII, and an unabashed anti-semite... does that make the Ford Mustang a Nazimobile?

But yeah, basically, TFA is a Godwin.

Re:"Automate the Third Reich"? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36481978)

Uh... but IBM actually did do a lot of contracting for the Nazis.

They weren't just Nazi sympathizers, they didn't just make general-purpose tools and end up having the Nazis use them, they worked with them extensively in a strategic alliance. They talked to them about what they wanted to get done, they helped them do it efficiently, and they put effort into hiding their role.

In particular, they were instrumental in accomplishing the identification of members of targeted ethnic groups, while being fully aware of the Nazi party's intent to persecute them. They provided the information infrastructure necessary to round up all of the jews and gypsies, knowing at the very least that they were to be rounded up.

Re:"Automate the Third Reich"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36481808)

Let's not also forget that the Third Reich accomplished good deeds, even if those good deeds were like 5% against their 95% bad deeds. I doubt the IBM equipment had anything to do with gassing the Jews.

Re:"Automate the Third Reich"? (3, Insightful)

mother_reincarnated (1099781) | more than 3 years ago | (#36482026)

Actually lets totally forget that, m'kay? Sometimes there is no need for shades of grey.

Re:"Automate the Third Reich"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36481828)

I'm going to go ahead and eat my words here and admit that I instantly dismissed the link without even reading it, thinking it was a Godwin because I'm so accustomed to reductio ad Hitlerum. Now my comment looks just plain stupid.

Re:"Automate the Third Reich"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36481922)

Sounds like it.

Also, who the fuck is Robert X. Cringely and why should anyone care about his opinion?

Re:"Automate the Third Reich"? (2)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 3 years ago | (#36482034)

Also, who the fuck is Robert X. Cringely and why should anyone care about his opinion?

Cringely is the new JonKatz [slashdot.org] .

lulz research (4, Interesting)

decora (1710862) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481170)

The truth about lulz : Edwin Black, an author holed up in his basement, spending years and years researching the details for a book, reading thousands of documents and talking with hundreds of people, will achieve far more lulz, in the long run, than hacking a website.

Black's book came out circa 2001. That is 10 years ago, and people still talk about it. And we still wait for IBM to open their archives.

Re:lulz research (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36481346)

I think you mean his parent's basement.

Re:lulz research (2)

torgosan (141603) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481440)

The book to which you are referring is:

IBM and the Holocaust

The Strategic Alliance between Nazi Germany and America's most powerful corporation

Published by Crown Publishers, N.Y., 2001

ISBN 0-609-60799-5

Re:lulz research (2)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481932)

Meanwhile the fact that IBM machines were used in the development of a weapon that could kill about 140,000 people [hiroshima.jp] at once is uncontroversial.

Re:lulz research (2)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 3 years ago | (#36482104)

And he didn't rape any Swedish women.

This just in (1, Redundant)

drb226 (1938360) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481180)

your mom did not invent the personal computer, either.

Actually they did (0)

msobkow (48369) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481192)

They invented a product that was trademarked "Personal Computer". Before that time, they were usually called "mini" or "micro" computers.

Re:Actually they did (1)

atari2600a (1892574) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481320)

A minicomputer would be along the lines of a refrigerator-sized PDP, as opposed to the giant 360/UNIVAC/etc 'normal' computers.

Re:Actually they did (2)

digitig (1056110) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481668)

You must have a small refrigerator. The early PDPs were huge, but we had the PDP8E well before the PC came along and it wasn't really much bigger than a full-sized tower PC. (I'm qualified to repair them, although I'm a bit rusty...)

Re:Actually they did (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481944)

The DEC LSI-11 from the 1970s was a PDP-11 minicomputer shrunk into a case that was about the same size as an early IBM PC.

Actually they didn't (3, Informative)

jabberw0k (62554) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481372)

Apple was using the term "Personal Computer" from the advent of the Apple ][ in 1977. IBM's trademark was the "IBM PC" -- remember the Charlie Chaplin adverts? So, no, sorry, IBM can't even claim that.

Re:Actually they didn't (1)

suso (153703) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481530)

Actually, there was a store in Bloomington, Indiana called The Data Domain [elinks.us] which claimed to use the term Personal Computer in advertising first. The guy who owned the Data Domain apparently talked to Steve Jobs directly on the phone to sell the Apple I.

Re:Actually they didn't (1)

drerwk (695572) | more than 3 years ago | (#36482148)

I used to hang out at The Personal Computer Place in Mesa, AZ. I assembled a few SWTP 6800 systems, an IMSAI, and I think an ALTAIR for the owner who sold both kits and the assembled products. That was 5th grade, so must have been 1977. I recall him getting his first Apple II, it was awesome.

Yes, they did (-1, Troll)

Nemyst (1383049) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481194)

I don't care that some obscure computers have preceded the IBM-PC and could be considered "personal". IBM has defined the market for "Personal Computer" and ushered the way in for everybody else. This just sounds like a summary poster craving for attention by having a highly sensationalist claim.

I also like how the blog post barely speaks of that and doesn't even tell us who, in fact, did, if not IBM.

No, they didn't (was Re:Yes, they did) (1, Troll)

Anonymous Freak (16973) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481256)

Apple II, anyone?

IBM just made it mainstream for businesses.

Microsoft, by negotiating in such a way as to allow clones, made IBM's definition of PC explode (without IBM.)

Re:No, they didn't (was Re:Yes, they did) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36481514)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lisp_machine

Re:No, they didn't (was Re:Yes, they did) (5, Interesting)

djlowe (41723) | more than 3 years ago | (#36482202)

IBM just made it mainstream for businesses.

"Just"? You make that sound trivial, when it certainly was not.

Having been there, I can attest to the fact that IBM's PC did indeed legitimize the personal computer for not only businesses, but later for home users who, having used IBM PCs at work, wanted a familiar computer at home as well.

Back then, the mantra in business was "Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM", and that "magical pixie dust" settled onto the IBM PC as well... and later, with the advent of Compaq, and its "clean room" reverse engineering of the IBM PC BIOS, opened the door for all of the IBM PC compatible clones that came later, with BIOS' made by AMI, Phoenix and Award, and together they not only legitimized the PC market for business, but standardized it and the home personal computer market as well, while driving down prices as third-party manufacturers created computers based around them.

Hell, I was running a home LAN with IBM XT and AT clones, some booting from diskette [1], with an AT clone server running NetWare v2.0a [wikipedia.org] (with a Seagate ST-4096 80MB MFM HD [2]), using ARCNET [wikipedia.org] [3], back in 1988. Being able to centralized my programs, data, and share a printer was a HUGE thing for me, and for my customers as well.

Later, I upgraded my server to an 80386 clone, running NetWare v3, but still kept the 80 MB HD, and it was rock-solid, and the most reliable server I've ever had at home.

Now, you could say that it was all crude, and certainly it was, by today's standards... but I installed hundreds of LANs for small/medium-sized businesses back then, and the benefit they all gained was very real.

NONE of the latter would have been possible without IBM's PC: It not only standardized the hardware and bus, but standardized the client OS as well, which resulted in an explosion of development of not only business applications, but games, and software in general as well.

So, yeah, IBM didn't invent the "PC", and there's more than a little historical revisionism going on... but, to dismiss their effect on personal computing as "just" making it mainstream for business does them disservice as well.

Regards,

dj

[1] Hard drives were very expensive back then, so it was cheaper to use one large, expensive HD in a file server, and boot the workstations from diskette... and keep a box of backup boot diskettes on hand, just in case *grin*

[2] Seagate's ST-4096 was a state-of-the-art HD then: With 28ms average access speeds, capable of running at 1 to 1 interleave, it was blisteringly fast, and very reliable. Not to mention the fact that 80MB was "Huge tracts of storage"... when I installed one a customer, long before I could afford one myself, I asked him "So, what are you going to do with so much storage?" His answer? "Anything I want" *grin*.

[3] We used ARCNET for our customers, because the NICs were FAR less expensive than Ethernet NICs. We used SMC's NICs, until Thomas-Conrad came along, and beat them not only in price, but performance - T-C's ARCNET NICs used less upper memory in enhanced mode (4K vs. 16K or 32K as I recall), and their drivers were a LOT more efficient/faster.. later, they sold a "Universal Turbo" ARCNET NIC driver that worked with any ARCNET NIC, but made their NICs a LOT faster, and that was HUGE, too, from a management perspective: We only had to use one driver, regardless of NIC manufacturer.

Back in the pre-Ethernet switch days, ARCNET also performed a lot better under load than Ethernet with the same node count per network segment, despite "only" running at 2.5Mbps vs. Ethernet's theoretical 10Mbps...and it scaled deterministically as well. In addition, ARCNET over RG-62/U coax could be run 3000 feet, active port to active port, which helped minimize the number of active hubs needed, and offered FAR more flexibility in the real world.

[4] This footnote has no referral - but I suppose that this is where I should say "You damn kids get off my lawn!" *grin*

Nostalgically,

dj

Re:Yes, they did (1)

yuhong (1378501) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481274)

Other clones copying the IBM PC helped a lot too, to the the point that almost all x86 processors are paired with a chipset that is software-compatible with the core hardware the IBM PC had and a IBM PC compatible BIOS, the result being often called the "PC". Even Apple have switched to x86 and use the same chipsets as "PCs", one of the reasons why IMO the "PC" vs "Mac" comparison is nonsense nowadays.

Re:Yes, they did (4, Informative)

pluther (647209) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481288)

I wouldn't call the Apple II exactly "obscure". And Apple was marketing using the term "Personal Computer" for at least a few years before the IBM PC came out.

Re:Yes, they did (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 3 years ago | (#36482074)

Actually, I don't think Apple used the term "personal computer" until around the introduction of the Mac and the Apple //c. These would both be introduced well after IBM marketed their "IBM Personal Computer" in 1981.

Now get off of my lawn.

Re:Yes, they did (1, Insightful)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 3 years ago | (#36482082)

The Apple II was plastic, toylike and very expensive for what you got. (You might as well have bought a TRS-80 and saved yourself a good chunk of change.)

The IBM PC was also expensive, but had top quality hardware similar to their mainframe terminals, including: a substantial steel chassis and case, a crisp monochrome monitor that you could actually work with all day without going blind, and one of the best keyboards ever made. It was a serious personal computer that PHBs felt comfortable buying for their businesses.

So the definition depends on your perspective. If based on technicalities, the Apple II, the Altair 8800, the Atari 2600, the Commodore PET, etc. were all "personal computers" because they had microprocessors. If based on what was understood to be a computer in the business word, the IBM PC was one of the first business computers that was small enough and inexpensive enough so that most were bought to be used by one person.

Commodore PET, TRS80 and others (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 3 years ago | (#36482382)

"The Apple II was plastic, toylike and very expensive for what you got. (You might as well have bought a TRS-80 and saved yourself a good chunk of change.)"

The original TRS80 was only black and white - the Apple ][ had color

Actually I had an Apple ][+ as my 3rd computer - The first was a TRS80
and the second was a Compucolor II it had 8 colors, 128x 128 pixel graphics, 32 KB ram and a 117 key keyboard. Unfortunately it had hardly any software.

But the Apple ][ was the first expandable computer, with card slots and a top that was easily detached. The 3rd party manufacturers that started with Apple products went on to the IBM PC and helped enable the PC industry. BTW the BASIC in the Apple ][+ was written by Microsoft.

And Visicalc was the first spreadsheet

I didn't buy a PC compatable machine until 1994 - 15 years after I bought my first computer.

Re:Yes, they did (1)

CODiNE (27417) | more than 3 years ago | (#36482242)

Must've really pissed them off when the term PC got stolen from them and applied to all NON-Apple computers.

Maybe that's part of why they're a bit jealous with the "App Store" branding stuff.

Re:Yes, they did (1)

magarity (164372) | more than 3 years ago | (#36482386)

Must've really pissed them off when the term PC got stolen from them

For a long time all the other brands couldn't call their machines a 'PC' - they had to do it all the way out: 'IBM Compatible PC'.

Re:Yes, they did (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36481290)

"...and doesn't even tell us who, in fact, did, if not IBM."

That would be the "soils the memory of Ed Roberts" part of the summary and Cringely's article.

Re:Yes, they did (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36481436)

Just because it wasn't popular doesn't mean it wasn't the first, else Apple 'invented' the MP3 Player.

Re:Yes, they did (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481464)

sorry no, there were personal computers before the PC, but there was no PC before the PC, if anyone gets credit for ushering in the personal computer age its Apple, they were on their 3rd edition and had market IBM wanted by the time IBM wanted it and joined in

Re:Yes, they did (2)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481666)

bullshit, you must be young. My friends and I had personal computers in the 70s, all of different brands.

Ad Hitlerum (1)

jra (5600) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481200)

"Press hard, you are making 6 million copies."

Naw; Godwin's Law concerns *comparisons* to Hitler and Nazis. If you're *actually talking about them for a reason*, it trips out, to avoid a recursive black hole in the fabric of the Universe.

Re:Ad Hitlerum (1)

jra (5600) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481226)

And to reply to Cringley's comments on identity theft, if everyone put their foot down and *forced service providers to stop using unchangeable, researchable authenticators like SSNs and Maiden names, all of that problem would dry up in a heart beat.

Not even close (5, Interesting)

Cute Fuzzy Bunny (2234232) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481220)

Hmm, I sold personal computers for around 5 years before IBM rolled their first PC out, so I guess all the people that bought them will have to look back in embarrassment now that its been revealed that those really werent either personal or computers. Imsai, Altair, Poly, Xitan, Alpha Micro...all came long before IBM rolled anything out the door. Plus we thought the IBM PC was lousy. It had a weird keyboard layout and it was slow. Real expensive compared to other alternatives of the day. You could get a much faster cpu with more memory and a larger capacity floppy drive for half the price.

Re:Not even close (-1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481322)

You sold Altair? A mail order computer?

Maybe you should list a computer that was in existence 5 years prior to IBMs release, or, you know, just keep making shit up.

Re:Not even close (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36481504)

You sold Altair? A mail order computer?

He didn't say that he sold Alairs, He said he sold personal computers. He listed Altairs as existing before IBM PC.

Maybe you should list a computer that was in existence 5 years prior to IBMs release, or, you know, just keep making shit up.

PolyMorphics existed in 1976, 5 years before the IBM PC. I still have a couple around here somewhere.

Re:Not even close (3, Interesting)

Teancum (67324) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481796)

I remember a computer trade journal article that came out about the same time the IBM PC was released, where they went through the parts list of the items that went into the original IBM PC. After going through all of the components including the case, the only thing they could identify that was original components that was actually designed by IBM engineers was the sticker label that went on the outside of the case which said "IBM".

That wasn't entirely fair as there were some IBM engineers who had to piece the components together and sort of did help design the motherboard, but otherwise not a single major component inside of that computer was even made by IBM. Even that process of designing the PC motherboard was going way outside of the normal IBM development cycle process and only when a completed motherboard was presented to IBM management that anything resembling a formal project to make the IBM PC a reality was initiated.

What the letters "IBM" did do to the personal computer industry, however, was to legitimize the industry so far as to give conservative business executives an excuse to buy the equipment. Before they weren't about to buy a beige computer from a bunch of hippies in California or a video game console that also happened to do some computing on the side. Before IBM, the personal computer industry was mainly hackers and hobbyists. Afterward, the personal computer went mainstream into homes and medium-sized businesses.

Re:Not even close (3, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 3 years ago | (#36482156)

After going through all of the components including the case, the only thing they could identify that was original components that was actually designed by IBM engineers was the sticker label that went on the outside of the case which said "IBM".

100% true, of course. The optional hard disks were made by Seagate (hence the legacy of the ST01 controller), the floppy drives were made by Toshiba or Chinon or somebody like that. The processor came from Intel. The optional printer was made by Epson. The motherboard was basically a reference design from Intel.

The BIOS was original, but the operating system, of course, was a 16-bit CP/M hack from a guy named Tim Patterson of Seattle Computer Products, who sold it to a tiny little company from Bellvue, Washington, for a few thousand bucks. Tim would go on to become a billionaire, of course, along with the founders of that tiny little computer company.

If I could go back in time, I would convince Tim Patterson that writing operating systems isn't a very good idea and he should do something else with his time.

Re:Not even close (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36481910)

The Altair appeared in the January 1975 issue of Electronics World magazine. The IBM PC appeared in 1981. Granted, that's not 5 years -- it's six! And while MITS initially sold it as a mail-ordered kit, it did appear in retail shops well before the IGM PC.

Even the Radio Shack TRS-80, infamous as the Trash-80, came out a few years before IBM got into the act.

Re:Not even close (1)

stox (131684) | more than 3 years ago | (#36482092)

The January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics introduced the Altair 8800, not Electronics World.

The IBM 5100 was introduced in 1975 (3, Interesting)

Burz (138833) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481988)

It has the all the main personal computing features we associate with pre-Macintosh/Lisa systems, like a keyboard, CRT, local storage and user programmability. It probably predates the systems you sold by a year or two.

http://oldcomputers.net/ibm5100.html [oldcomputers.net]

Re:The IBM 5100 was introduced in 1975 (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 3 years ago | (#36482054)

From History Of Computing Project [thocp.net] : "The company established what was then called the Entry Systems Division, located in Boca Raton, Florida, to develop the new system. This small group consisted of 12 engineers and designers under the direction of Don Estridge; the team's chief designer was Lewis Eggebrecht. The division developed IBM's first real PC. (IBM considered the 5100 system, developed in 1975, to be an intelligent programmable terminal rather than a genuine computer, even though it truly was a computer.)"

And $20,000 is hardly "personal", the Lisa was half that 10 years later and still spectacularly bombed.

Re:The IBM 5100 was introduced in 1975 (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 3 years ago | (#36482150)

That particular price point for the 5100 was set by the marketing department, because they didn't want it to compete against their mainframe business. It could have been sold for substantially less, and did include a number of features that was well ahead of its time.

Simply put, it was never given the chance to actually be a real product because IBM didn't want it to be something an ordinary consumer could ever possibly purchase. About the only people permitted to even buy this computer were existing customers of IBM mainframes.

When the PCjr came out, they had a similar problem where the "low-cost alternative" was in many ways technically superior to the higher end mainstream computer system. So instead, IBM expended deliberate engineering effort to downgrade and cripple yet another product instead of simply letting the superior technology take root. Typical for IBM.

Re:The IBM 5100 was introduced in 1975 (2)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 3 years ago | (#36482168)

Xerox Alto [wikipedia.org] . 1973.

Re:Not even close (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36482006)

Real expensive compared to other alternatives of the day. You could get a much faster cpu with more memory and a larger capacity floppy drive for half the price.

Sounds familiar.
Apple did become Big Brother.

Pay no attention to Woz (2)

atari2600a (1892574) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481230)

It's not like he invented the single-board self-bootstrapping non-teletype microcomputer...

Iron Sky (1)

DaPhil (811162) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481240)

Yay, Nazis again. Computers are what got them to the moon! I saw it in a movie [imdb.com] , it must be true! (btw: The movie looks like loads of fun)

PC Invention (1)

kwiqsilver (585008) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481244)

Even if you ignore the Altair, and require a personal computer to be something with a keyboard and monitor, the Apple I and Apple II were out before the IBM PC (and far superior).

Re:PC Invention (-1, Offtopic)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481292)

None of those were IBM Clones or compatible with them.

Re:PC Invention (2)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481814)

None of those were IBM Clones or compatible with them.

That's the funniest thing I've read all day. :)

Re:PC Invention (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481706)

Even if you ignore the Altair, and require a personal computer to be something with a keyboard and monitor, the Apple I and Apple II were out before the IBM PC (and far superior).

Not for office work.

Why do you think Microsoft's Z80 CP/M Softcard sold so well?

The Apple II has a 40 column display and NTSC or PAL output.

The Apple II keyboard - sans keypad - was awkwardly integrated into the hard shell case.

The IBM was keyboard perfection:

Byte magazine in the fall of 1981 went so far as to state that the keyboard was 50% of the reason to buy an IBM PC.

IBM Personal Computer [wikipedia.org]

Re:PC Invention (2, Informative)

Teancum (67324) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481872)

The IBM was keyboard perfection:

Byte magazine in the fall of 1981 went so far as to state that the keyboard was 50% of the reason to buy an IBM PC.

IBM Personal Computer [wikipedia.org]

The original keyboard for the IBM PC was a pure piece of garbage. As a matter of fact, one of the early accessories that many PC buyers purchased was a keyboard from 3rd party developers, where important keys like the "enter key" was enlarged, along with the shift keys and a spacebar that actually felt right.

Re-read that article again, to realize how many people hated the thing. I hated it and told my professors at the time.... where they cringed in disbelief that IBM could produce such a piece of crap. One of the regular features in Jerry Pournelle's Chaos Mannor column was a review of a new keyboards to replace that piece of junk.

As if to add insult to injury, the PCjr decided to downgrade even this horrible keyboard that IBM made with something even worse. It was so awful that the CEO of IBM decided to apologize and sent a new keyboard to every customer of that computer which had registered with a warranty card. Surprisingly, this "replacement" keyboard for the PCjr was even superior to that horrible IBM PC keyboard.

Re:PC Invention (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36482204)

>>> Even if you ignore the Altair, and require a personal computer to be something with a keyboard and monitor, the Apple I and Apple II were out before the IBM PC (and far superior).

> Not for office work.

The Apple ][+ could and was used for office work, because it was what people had at hand. At the time, alternatives were CP/M based machines without graphical capabilities. Depending on your business (e.g. advertising) visuals were a must... also, it was not uncommon to use the same computer for multiple uses, since it was somewhat expensive (comparable to a small car, I believe).

> Why do you think Microsoft's Z80 CP/M Softcard sold so well? The Apple II has a 40 column display and NTSC or PAL output.

There was a world of business-related software for CP/M (which was THE professional OS of the time) -- to those who didn't know it, it was just like M$-DOS, but commands resembled more the Unix syntax. People wanted to run programs like Wordstar using the CP/M card; later, for developers at least, it was important because it allowed the use of Turbo Pascal, one of the best compilers made by man -- performance was astounding on barebones hardware of the time.

That said, there were lots of professional programs which didn't require CP/M, the most relevant probably being Visicalc. And there were useful text processors like "Magic Window", non-WYSIWYG but adequate for the printers available back then... for the 40-column problem, one could either resort to graphical mode and display more characters per line -- or simply buy an Apple 80-column card. In fact, it was the other way around, IIRC the CP/M card was best used if an 80-column card (or onboard circuit in some clones) was available.

> The Apple II keyboard - sans keypad - was awkwardly integrated into the hard shell case.

That was not awkward, that was the standard of the time. Actually, IBM products like the Selectric typewriter had integrated keyboards.

> The IBM was keyboard perfection:

>>> Byte magazine in the fall of 1981 went so far as to state that the keyboard was 50% of the reason to buy an IBM PC.

Indeed, not only was the keyboard superb, the concept of a separate piece well-thought and contributed to several positive points, ranging from easier replacement to ergonomic factors.

Now, I'm playing this from memory (so anybody can drop by and correct possible errors), but let me sum it up in a paragraph:

IBM tried before (in 1977, or so I've read) and created a small computer which could be mounted in a rack (can't remember whether it had or not a builtin 5" or so CRT screen). It was reported as unsuccessful, in comparison to the likes of Apple and TRS-80. IBM then formed a taskforce, which was given exceptional powers to: use non-IBM hardware (Intel's 8086), non-IBM software (M$ "DOS", reportedly based on QDOS, itself "inspired" on CP/M -- the inspiration included some original strings, or so I've read... lol). This computer was basically 100% equivalent to a common CP/M PC, plus 320x200x2bpp and 640x200x1bpp graphical modes. Nothing to write home about, but it was sold as a "commercial" PC (whatever that could mean) and Asian dudes which cloned Apple saw it as a big opportunity to expand by cloning an IBM machine. Pretty wise, btw...

You younguns cannot imagine how difficult it was having a computer in a third-world country; when IBM introduced standards like VGA, monitors jumped up in quality and -- specially -- in price. You cannot imagine how expensive these things were. and even more so for a kid, back then. 8-/

Non Issue (2)

joeflies (529536) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481254)

It seems to me that it's pretty clear that the speaker in the video is saying that that IBM invented the Personal Computer (upper case), not the personal computer, lower case. When you watch the video, the screen is showing the case where it says "IBM Personal Computer". And I think that's worth talking about, since the majority of toeday's personal computers (both windows & mac) can trace its roots back to this architecture.

WTF is this shit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36481258)

With a title like that, I guess I'd expected the relevant content to consist of more than just the title repeated. In this case, the summary actually contains more information that TFA. That's F for Fucking BTW.

Your health information is not safe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36481264)

My employer is one of the biggest in health IT and I can confirm that the security is abysmal at the sites they manage.

Re:Your health information is not safe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36481508)

1. What does this article have to do with that?
2. Do I know you?

Not by any measure was it the first (-1, Troll)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481282)

IBM had theirs developed before ed.
Ed was a machine that could compute, but you put t together your self, and used switches

Altair was a hobbiest computer, not a personal computer as we think of them at all.

IBM put the first real personal computer on the market. Yes, prior to that I could have gone to the electronic store and bought the parts.

The only people who call this a personal computer are idiot geeks who will go to any stupid pedantry and verbal trick to 'be right' and 'know more'.
If the altair counts, then you must consider the Kenbak-1. So I win the internet.

Re:Not by any measure was it the first (3, Informative)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481434)

IBM put the first real personal computer on the market. Yes, prior to that I could have gone to the electronic store and bought the parts.

The only people who call this a personal computer are idiot geeks who will go to any stupid pedantry and verbal trick to 'be right' and 'know more'.
If the altair counts, then you must consider the Kenbak-1. So I win the internet.

From wikipedia [wikipedia.org] : "The original line of PCs were part of an IBM strategy to get into the small personal computer market then dominated by the Commodore PET, Atari 8-bit family, Apple II, Tandy Corporation's TRS-80s, and various CP/M machines.[2]"

Re:Not by any measure was it the first (1)

yuhong (1378501) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481498)

various CP/M machines

Some of which used the S-100 bus invented by Altair.

Re:Not by any measure was it the first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36481762)

"dominated" as in "all geeks used it?" as in hundred people?

most of the world learnt of "PCs" by IBM.

Re:Not by any measure was it the first (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36481656)

There were many fully assembled and fully functioning computers well before the IBM PC. CP/M was released in 1976 and was used by dozens of small manufacturers to make fully working computers that could be bought, plugged in, and immediately used for usefull work.

dBase II, Wordstar, Peach software, Visicalc and SuperCalc were all used well before IBM had these ported to their new machine.

Microsoft even produced a COBOL for CP/M in 1978, as did others.

SCP themselves, the ones who wrote QDOS that later became MS/PC-DOS, had a range of Zebra CP/M computers. They wrote QDOS, which was functionally the same as CP/M, to use the 8086 CPU which first became available in 1978.

Re:Not by any measure was it the first (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481726)

Your ignorance is astounding. There were many complete assembled computer systems sold in the 70s, used in small business and in homes. Even the fully assembled Osburne was introduced five months before the IBM PC

Re:Not by any measure was it the first (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481928)

There was the IBM 5100 [wikipedia.org] computer, which was an amazing piece of hardware. It very likely could have been the genesis of personal computers.... had IBM any sort of vision and if their marketing department wasn't so paranoid about the concept to let it out of the laboratory.

One of the amazing things about this little microcomputer was the fact that it could emulate some of the mainframe computers then in use at the time and even could in theory run some of software running on those mainframes as native binaries.

Unfortunately IBM sat on this device and only sold it to existing mainframe customers (when it was sold at all).

Sadly, the only thing that is related between this particular computer and the later IBM PC was the part numbering system, where the more famous "IBM PC" had the part number 5150.

Warning: Lame-ass autoplaying video link *nt* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36481334)

"Lameness filter encountered. Post aborted!" How about a lameness filter for editors?

Automating the Third Reich (1)

sproketboy (608031) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481366)

And brought us EJB. Nothing to celebrate here.

toilets from the sky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36481418)

sometimes i wonder,
about toilets from the sky,
how can they deliver such goodness,
in the twinkling of an eye,
such wonder,
such power,
those toilets,
from,
the,
sky.

Cringely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36481444)

Cringely still gets paid to write stuff about technology...

Re:Cringely (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481632)

Cringely isn't even a real person, it's just a pseudonym for an InfoWorld column Mark Stephens (among others) wrote for in the early 90's.

I can't even believe people still reference, let along read, this guy. One of his most famous quotes (after having been caught lying about claiming he had Ph.D. from Stanford): "a new fact has now become painfully clear to me: you don't say you have the Ph.D unless you really have the Ph.D." Really, he had to "learn" that fact? Wonder how many other "facts" he's learned...

Re:Cringely (1)

Elbereth (58257) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481842)

In his defense, he had done all the work, but he hadn't gone through with the paperwork -- but this is just from memory.

I never bothered to finish my studies, either. I don't go around claiming to have gotten degrees that I don't have, but I can understand how one might feel entitled to a degree that one technically doesn't own, because of bureaucracy and/or circumstance. Obviously, the problem is the "entitled" aspect, and that's why I don't do what he did.

Re:Cringely (2)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 3 years ago | (#36482184)

No, he had "taken all the coursework". The difference between "taken all the coursework" and "finished your dissertation" can be YEARS. He did what a lot of people who take the course but don't do a dissertation did - he accepted a masters and left. Unfortunately he then decided to lie about it...

Yes, IBM invented the IBM PC, but not the PC (3, Informative)

gavron (1300111) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481526)

S-110 Bus systems
Radio Shack TRS-80.
Apple I
Commodore-64
Atari-800
TI 99/4

These were all the first personal computers. IBM had nothing to do with any of it.

IBM's only claim to fame is that their hardware specs allowed others to make similar systems.. so the "IBM PC" became manufacturable by many companies... and as a result... it beat out the proprietary hardware guys.

IBM has invented many things, but the personal computer is nothing they invented.

E

Re:Yes, IBM invented the IBM PC, but not the PC (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36481732)

Also: Altair 8080, Altair 680, Imsai 8080, SWTPC 6800 and NS SC/MP were all well before Apple, Commodore, Atari, TI.

All those others were "me too, me too!" companies.

Re:Yes, IBM invented the IBM PC, but not the PC (1)

Mad Leper (670146) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481832)

All the companies you listed were closed systems then and remain so today (even more so for Apple)

The IBM PC may have started closed, but it once the BIOS was opened up it opened the floodgates for cheap, open IBM-Compatible computers for everyone. So yes, I would consider the statement that IBM invented the personal computer to be correct.

Re:Yes, IBM invented the IBM PC, but not the PC (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36482124)

"Once the BIOS was opened up"

Well, yeah. Thanks to Phoenix, the IBM PC compatible market opened up, and all the technical superior microcomputers (lacking clones) were doomed. (I'm aware of the other clones before Phoenix, when each manufacturer did their own reverse-engineering and built their own BIOS -- I assume you're referring to Phoenix's commercially available BIOS, and if not, I think you should be.)

But does IBM deserve any credit for that? They fought tooth and nail against it. The main reason IBM's box happened to be cloned was their heavy-weight name, not anything they "invented".

Re:Yes, IBM invented the IBM PC, but not the PC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36481848)

The C=64 wasn't even the first Commodore personal computer. Look up the Vic-20 and PET.

IBM 5100 (2)

Deathlizard (115856) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481900)

I'm surprised that no one (not even IBM) has mentioned the IBM 5100 [oldcomputers.net]

By no means is it the first Personal Computer, but it is IBM's first PC. and its arguably the first portable computer as well.

Invented -- no. Delivered -- yes. (5, Insightful)

tygr6x (2279008) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481724)

Just like Columbus did not actually discover America, IBM did not invent the personal computer. However, just like Columbus for all intents and purposes put America on the map, IBM did deliver the PC to the world in a way that no other did (or could) at the time.

"Invented" is overused (4, Insightful)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481768)

Nobody "invented" the personal computer. Taking an existing product and making it cheaper/faster/smaller/cooler is not "inventing" anything, it is merely developing a better product.

Apple did not "invent" the smartphone, Toyota did not "invent" the hybrid, and Tivo did not "invent" recording video on hard disks either.

Re:"Invented" is overused (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481868)

Nobody "invented" the personal computer.

No one user wrote me. I'm worth millions of their man-years.

The answer is murky ... (1)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481840)

The answer is murky and it depends upon how you define a personal computer. If you're talking about computers in the home, then it was probably the Apple/Commodore/Tandy triad who deserves credit. If you are talking about a standalone desktop computer, it looks like the IBM 5100 is a runner (1975). Then, of course, there are all of the people who include hobbiest machines.

Re:The answer is murky ... (1)

JBMcB (73720) | more than 3 years ago | (#36482056)

Or if you count those funky HP programmable mega-calculators from the mid 70's.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HP_9800_series_desktop_computers [wikipedia.org]

Hey, it fits on a desktop :)

Re:The answer is murky ... (1)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 3 years ago | (#36482222)

And a single line display (?) would have made for a mighty exciting game of pong!

Talking about pissing off (1)

dimeglio (456244) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481904)

During a speech at work about 10 years ago, my boss started talking about innovation and how one day, out of their garage, two young engineers invented the IBM personal computer. I then corrected him but he just brushed us off. I lost all respect for this fella and transferred to another department. I still love to point out his mistake.

Personal Computer (0)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 3 years ago | (#36481984)

The first Computers were people, given math problems on paper, they solved such problems.

These computers worked for organisations / businesses / governments.

The first "Personal Computer" would be the first person hired for that role on a personal basis... Thus, secretaries and/or (lab)assistants would classify as Personal Computers.

Considering that someone could decide to perform the task themselves, they would be their own "Personal Computer".

Thus most humans have been born equipped with at least one Personal Computer -- The Brain.

Now, that we've argued and settled this ridiculous case, while ignoring ancient computers [youtube.com] -- Which may have been single personal use only.

I suggest we argue who first invented counting. (Which was no doubt discovered long before written languages).

Other things IBM did invent (3, Informative)

JBMcB (73720) | more than 3 years ago | (#36482036)

IBM *did* invent a few other things:

Magnetic Hard Drive
Reduced Operating Instruction Set architecture
Transistorized DRAM
Relational databases
Virtual machine operating systems
DES encryption
Scanning tunneling microscope

To name a tiny fraction. So, they do have some bragging rights.

The personal computer (1)

BudAaron (1231468) | more than 3 years ago | (#36482100)

Actually Allen Fulmer - a professor of mathematics in Oregon designed and I built the prototype of a small computer years before any of these dudes. It used flip flops built on circuit boards using transistors. I designed the cards, etched them and soldered in all of the components by hand. It used as ASR 33 teletype machine as both and input / output and used paper tape for storage. It was finally manufactured by one Gamco Industries in Big Spring, Texas and sold to a number of schools. That was in the 1960's well before MITS, Altair, IMSAI and others. If interested contact me bud at dotnetchecksdotcom.

q. What is irony? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36482430)

a. People using computers that are direct descendents of the IBM PC to argue that IBM did not create the first PC.

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