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Review of IBM's Original Personal Computer

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the won't-run-crysis dept.

IBM 154

illiteratehack was one of several readers to point out that today is the 30th anniversary of the introduction of IBM's first popular PC, writing, "V3 managed to dig up the original review of IBM's Personal Computer Model 5150, the machine that popularized personal computing. There are some great comments; the article's author wasn't sure if IBM would sell the PC outside the US, and he mentions the inclusion of a 'very high quality 11.5-inch' display. The article also shows that while the PC may have changed a lot on the inside, the way it was reviewed hasn't changed much in 30 years." Other readers sent in reflections on 30 years of the PC by various tech icons and a speculative look at what the computing industry would have looked like without IBM.

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154 comments

Apple ][ Forever!!!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37069546)

PCs SUCK!!!

What Might Have Been... (4, Insightful)

wernst (536414) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070148)

As a die-hard Apple II user (still have my original //e and a spiffy Ethernet-equipped, Compact-Flash-card-as-a-hard-drive, maxed out IIGS), I've often pondered what might have been but for a few twists of computing fate.

With just between 16KB to 256KB or RAM, a pair of 140KB floppy drives, an 80-column green-screen or RGB color display, 5 card slots, and an 8-bit CPU bus with a CPU running at far less than 10 MHz, the IBM 5150 isn't that different than a contemporary Apple //e (typically with 128KB of RAM, a pair of 140KB floppies, a green screen or RGB display, 7 card slots, and a more efficient 1MHz CPU), and it wasn't obviously superior at the time. Both had similar expansion abilities (serial, parallel, game, modems, primitive hard drives in time), yet industry chose the PC to build upon because it was legally simpler.

What might have been if Apple allowed industry to clone and build upon the Apple II architecture, I wonder? Would we have had Compaq building luggable Apple II's with 16-bit CPUs and expanded memory early on? Might we have eventually had Apple IIs with 16-bit ISA slots, then VLB slots, then PCI slots, then AGP slots, and now PCI Express? Might we today have thoroughly modern computers with slick Windows-like GUIs, but if you did a Control-Reset or booted off of a USB-connected legacy Disk ][ you could still enter an AppleSoft BASIC program equivalent to booting off of an MSDOS boot floppy and doing a "dir?" Might our keyboards still have Open-Apple and Solid-Apple keys instead of Alt and Windows?

Now don't get me wrong, I love my PCs today and earn my livelihood with them, but as a former Beagle Bros employee, I sometimes can't help but wonder what might have been...

Re:What Might Have Been... (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37072192)

As a die-hard Apple II user (still have my original //e and a spiffy Ethernet-equipped, Compact-Flash-card-as-a-hard-drive, maxed out IIGS),

Have you seen the new CFFA 3000?

Scroll Lock! (4, Insightful)

Sebastopol (189276) | more than 2 years ago | (#37069632)

FTA:

"However, a mysterious key called Scroll Lock doesn't actually do anything."

30 years ago... as useless then as it is now.

Re:Scroll Lock! (1)

aglider (2435074) | more than 2 years ago | (#37069722)

This is the real beauty of the 5150!

2 shifts, 2 controls, 2 alts, 2 enters, 2 +s, 2-s and twice the 10 digits keys.

Re:Scroll Lock! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37069782)

This is the real beauty of the 5150!

2 shifts, 2 controls, 2 alts, 2 enters, 2 +s, 2-s and twice the 10 digits keys.

that's like a ghetto with twice the variety of niggers.

there's the whitey-hating niggers.

there's the nigger-hating niggers who shoot each other for imaginary turf.

there's the welfare-lovin niggers who use their welfare checks to buy KFC, crab legs, and cheap booze

there's one white thing niggers love. yes we are talking about the crack-rock loving niggers.

there's the rap loving niggers who hear a few Puff Daddy songs and now they're hardcore thug gangsters.

finally there's the slavery niggers who need something to bitch about at all times. slavery happened a long time ago, let's bitch about that instead of proving all racism wrong by making something of ourselves. now they'll finally respect us!

Re:Scroll Lock! (1)

undecim (1237470) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070158)

Actually, the part that made me envy it is this:

The IBM monochrome monitor is a very high-quality 11.5in green phosphor device with an anti-glare screen.

I wonder if I can get it in laptop form.

Re:Scroll Lock! (4, Informative)

conares (1045290) | more than 2 years ago | (#37069724)

From Wikipedia:

The Scroll Lock key was meant to lock all scrolling techniques, and is a remnant from the original IBM PC keyboard, though it is not used by most modern-day software. In the original design, Scroll Lock was intended to modify the behavior of the arrow keys. When the Scroll Lock mode was on, the arrow keys would scroll the contents of a text window instead of moving the cursor. In this usage, Scroll Lock is a toggling lock key like Num Lock or Caps Lock, which have a state that persists after the key is released.

Re:Scroll Lock! (1)

BattleApple (956701) | more than 2 years ago | (#37069966)

I think the only application I've ever used that supports scroll lock usage is Lotus Notes, which sucks.

Re:Scroll Lock! (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070004)

It still functions in Excel, literally blocking scrolling, which, when I've accidentally hit the damned button, really annoys the living crap out of me.

Re:Scroll Lock! (1)

BattleApple (956701) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070080)

Ah, I forgot about that one.. The annoying thing about Notes is if you've typed less than a full page, then accidentally hit the scroll lock key, it just seems like your arrow keys aren't working. drove me crazy the first time it happened

Re:Scroll Lock! (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070300)

Linux and BSD consoles use it too. Interestingly, it "locks" the scroll, so you can actually read kernel messages (use shift with page up/down to scroll in either direction while locked)

Re:Scroll Lock! (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070380)

That was my thought, it works differently under Linux than under BSD, but the functionality is there.

I tend to get annoyed by Logitech and the other idiots that remove those "superfluous" keys as they're not always superfluous. It annoys me that my Thinkpad lacks a pause button, the same one that's win + pause to open up that menu.

Re:Scroll Lock! (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#37071844)

I thin on Linux you just don't use shift, where you have to use shift under BSD. Not sure. And I agree wholeheartedly about keyboard mangling... so irritating.

Re:Scroll Lock! (1)

DemonGenius (2247652) | more than 2 years ago | (#37069750)

Maybe Ubuntu's Unity should have used Scroll Lock as the application menu button rather than robbing use of the super key as a useful macro. (I refuse to use that *blankety-blank* DE, FYI, same goes for Gnome Shell)

Civilization (3, Interesting)

XanC (644172) | more than 2 years ago | (#37069792)

I remember in the original Civilization, if you had Scroll Lock on, the arrow keys would show you around the map rather than moving the active unit.

Re:Scroll Lock! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37069844)

Useful in FreeBSD console. Hit scroll lock to scroll through terminal with arrow keys like xterm scrollbar.

works in most OS (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070410)

works in the console and character terminals of most linux distros too, but not the X11 terminals unless you config it. ditto OpenBSD.

Re:Scroll Lock! (2)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#37069872)

"However, a mysterious key called Scroll Lock doesn't actually do anything."

30 years ago... as useless then as it is now.

Not really. Depending on your usage, scroll lock is very useful at controlling a KVM. It can also be very useful if you deal with very large spreadsheets - even today you can hit scroll lock and then use the cursor keys to scroll through the document rather than use the scroll bars or mouse. Think of it as the "mousewheel" for the keyboard.

It's a shame more apps don't use it - if you want to scroll using the keyboard, it's the best way.

Though, you can have some fun if you hit scroll lock on someone's keyboard. Nothing really appears to happen, but if they use Excel or something...

Re:Scroll Lock! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37069906)

i frequently use scroll lock in vsphere vms to stop scrolling of log data. that's exactly a case the key was intended for.

Re:Scroll Lock! (1)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 2 years ago | (#37069962)

FTA:

"However, a mysterious key called Scroll Lock doesn't actually do anything."

30 years ago... as useless then as it is now.

It is useful in many speadsheet applications. With it on Excel, for instance, will scroll your viewport without altering your cursor position. I'm sure I've seen it used the same way in some turn-based strategy games too.

Re:Scroll Lock! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37070280)

I had to use a laptop earlier this week without a Scroll Lock button and wanted to use scroll lock but it wasn't there :(

Re:Scroll Lock! (1)

elsurexiste (1758620) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070544)

Part of coming of age is actually find uses for that key. Clue: check Maniac Mansion (or was it Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis?) and Excel.

Re:Scroll Lock! (1)

flimflammer (956759) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070700)

To be honest, I wish more programs would include Scroll Lock support. The intended functionality is actually rather handy if you don't want to or can't use a mouse.

Re:Scroll Lock! (1)

sootman (158191) | more than 2 years ago | (#37071640)

"And now, continuing my review of every key on the keyboard, the next one is called 'caps lock.' HMM, WHAT DOES IT... OH MY GOD! THIS IS FUCKING SWEET!! I AM GOING TO USE THIS ALL THE TIME!!!!!"

And now here's some plain text to work around the lameness filter. I hope it goes by percent of capital letters and not by sheer number. Here's hoping...

Sound hatred of scroll lock key (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37072152)

It even has a fan club:
http://www.slhaters.cz/default.aspx?MenuId=27

While we're reminiscing about ancient technology: (4, Interesting)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 2 years ago | (#37069646)

My first PC was built on an XT clone motherboard. Being an electronics tech and having built the S100 bus-based computer I'd been using for years, I decided to borrow a desoldering station from work over a weekend, and desoldered every chip on the motherboard so I could install sockets for all the chips against the eventual need for troubleshooting and repair. I never did have to replace a single chip on that board the entire time I used the thing.

Re:While we're reminiscing about ancient technolog (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37069920)

Out of interest, you didn't live in Montreal did you? In the mid 90's I bought an XT clone from a goodwill there as a cheap source of a case and PSU for a 386 I was building. On taking it apart I found every chip, even 74 series glue logic was socketed! Took me several hours to depop the board and the resulting chips have gradually been reused in junkbox projects for the last 20 years!

Re:While we're reminiscing about ancient technolog (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070718)

Some of the early clone boards available through Jameco were socketed like this. They also had intresting manuals, translated from the original Japenese into something vaugly resembling English. Very polite if not very useful. Sections went something like: "If you wish to enable this function, please to turn switch 7 on. Else, please to turn switch 7 on."

Re:While we're reminiscing about ancient technolog (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070486)

Ow. My eyes water at the thought. If the BOM of that clone was anything like that of the original 5150 (and they usually were), the motherboard had as many as 100 DIP ICs.

That's a metric butt-ton of solder wick. I'd be crosseyed and incoherent after desoldering and resoldering over 1600 through-hole pads. And with my luck, I'd damage at least one of the ICs in the process, probably one of the harder-to-come by chips (like the 8288 bus controller), and maybe one or more of the solder pads too.

Good work on that, even if it wound up being completely unneeded.

Re:While we're reminiscing about ancient technolog (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37072062)

That's a metric butt-ton of solder wick.

Or a single solder-sucker vacuum tool - imagine a soldering iron with a hole in the middle of the tip, said hole connected to a vacuum. Not nearly as much fun on BGA parts as they were on DIPs.

Re:While we're reminiscing about ancient technolog (1)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 2 years ago | (#37072460)

BGAs

Imagine my face the first time I saw something with surface-mount ICs. What the hell, there's no way to socket these things! How I am supposed to repair.. oh, I see now. Planned obsolescence! Bastards!! Surface mount technology may have been a giant leap forward in miniaturization, but it's also more or less killed electronics for the hobbyist, unless you're willing to use a prototyping service to make a PC board for every project you're interested in building. It's also more or less destroyed any possibility of technologically-enabled end-users repairing their own electronics due to the expense and specialized skills necessary to R&R BGAs and QFP ICs (especially BGAs).

Re:While we're reminiscing about ancient technolog (1)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 2 years ago | (#37072386)

As stated, I used a desoldering station, which has a vacuum pump, not something like a Soldapullt or similar manual desoldering pump. No way I'd do that manually!

Hidden text (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#37069658)

If you go to the page and wonder where the text is: You have to enable JavaScript for the site to even get it displayed.
Of course all the other stuff gets displayed even without JavaScript ...

Re:Hidden text (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37070114)

why in the fucking hell do you have javascript disabled? seriously, take off the tinfoil hat. ur not gnna get haxord kk??

Re:Hidden text (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070436)

yes, you can get hacked by javascript. and most modern news sites pop up ads and have third party tracking crap activated.

only an idiot goes to a new website allowing javascript. smarter people allow things in stages. NoScript and adblock ftw!

Personal Computing (2)

joeflies (529536) | more than 2 years ago | (#37069680)

the machine that popularized personal computing

I tend to think that the Apple II had a hand in popularizing personal computing

Re:Personal Computing (4, Insightful)

xero314 (722674) | more than 2 years ago | (#37069964)

I tend to think that the Apple II had a hand in popularizing personal computing

You can think that, but the reality is that the personal computing revolution did not begin until the arrival of the commodore 64.

Re:Personal Computing (2)

GreatDrok (684119) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070550)

It depends on where you were living I guess. I was in the UK at the time and my school got the first computer in the county in 1979 - a Commodore Pet 3008. That was the first machine I learned to program but the Commodore BASIC was feeble at best. A year later I bought a Sinclair ZX80 and then 81 and really got stuck into programming. The BASIC wasn't much better than Commodore though and I wanted more than the '81 could offer so was looking at the VIC20 (still that nasty BASIC) and then the 64 which was very crippled by the BASIC so most interaction with the machine had to be done through PEEK and POKE commands which resulted in really opaque code.

Around the same time though, the BBC started their Computer Literacy Project and authorised Acorn Computers to rebrand their new Proton as the BBC Microcomputer System. The BBC Basic was astounding for the time with full structured programming languages and an inline assembler for performance. BBCs were very fast for the time with much better graphics than even the Commodore 64 but that wasn't the best thing, it was all the connectivity, expandability and the power of the thing. The BBC Micro was the machine that British schools took up in their droves and all kids going through school in the '80s would have used them. I got one myself and kept using it for the best part of a decade. I still have it and it still works. It launched me into a career programming and the language skills BBC Basic enabled have been relevant even today as a Java/C coder.

The Commodore 64 certainly sold in great numbers, but it was more a consumer machine and didn't really turn out programmers like the BBC did. The 64 was more of an also ran in the UK market although it did keep going for a long time but it was basically seen as a games computer and little more.

The funny thing is that today, with the standardisation on the Windows PC in schools, pupils are coming out of school less computer literate than they were in my day because they get taught to use applications (Office mostly) rather than programming. The ideals of the BBC Computer Literacy Project have pretty much been lost with the move to the Windows PC.

Re:Personal Computing (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070866)

It depends on where you were living I guess. I was in the UK at the time and my school got the first computer in the county in 1979 - a Commodore Pet 3008.

HA! I knew that crap about "Baby", the "Ferranti Mark 1", and all those other fakes was pure bunk, and all that stuff at Bletchey park was also totally fake! Here we have a native who blows those fake storiess out of the water! Everyone knows that all computer development occurred in the USA!

Re:Personal Computing (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#37071634)

You can hardly create a consumer revolution if no one can buy your stuff.

Apple was certainly at the head of the pack but their stuff was rediculously priced and actually prevented more people from getting in on the action.

Apple was still selling it's 8-bit kit into the 68K era with prices higher than machines meant to compete with the Macintosh.

Re:Personal Computing (2)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070006)

...and the Commodore PET, and the TRS-80, and the Sinclair ZX-80 and the Commodore 64.

Re:Personal Computing (2, Insightful)

swordgeek (112599) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070240)

Agreed. I think back to 'the day', and while I had an Atari 400 and worked with both PETs and IBMs, the Apple ][+ was probably the watershed machine.

Half a decade in the future, the Commodore 64 sold more units but that's because computers were popular by that point. People WANTED them! Lots of people had been buying computers (usually horrible things - the Vic-20 or the TI-99/4A) because they were exposed to the Apple at work or at school, and when the C64 came along it pretty much wiped the floor with the others (even though it had its own issues), but as far as I'm concerned, it was the Apple ][ series that created the revolution.

The IBM was a business computer. Much better text, better computing power, pathetic sound, and nonexistent graphics. Oh, and an insane price tag--let's not forget that.

PCs quickly flooded the market? Yeah right. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37071056)

I really choked on the article when it said "The announcement of the PC was one of the most important moments in tech history, since computers based on the PC’s design quickly flooded the market and established a standard which lives on to this day in every Windows PC. "

Uh huh. This is the kind of drivel you get from someone who wasn't there. I remember the first, monochrome, IBM machines. They really were not that impressive, compared to the Big Three makers of 8-bit computers at the time: Commodore, Apple, and Radio Shack. Compared to those? Buy an IBM? No thanks. No thanks at all.

I remember the regret near the end of the 1980s -- nearly a full decade after the IBM PC was released -- when it was clear that those horrid 386 machines were slowly taking over. They just sucked compared to the Atari ST or the Commodore Amiga. The lack of true multitasking alone was a deal breaker for me.

Let's not forget the real reason the IBM PC won: Clones with Microsoft DOS (later Windows) were dirt cheap and plentiful. It hardly had anything to do with being a good computer architecture or a good OS.

Re:Personal Computing (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37070638)

Not surprising. You also tend to suck Steve Jobs' dick. Just saying..

And the winner is (1)

aglider (2435074) | more than 2 years ago | (#37069682)

That amusing, fantastic, brain damaged hardware limit to 640 KB, even on 286s and 386s.

For the glory or Quarterdeck [wikipedia.org] QEMM 386 [wikipedia.org]

Re:And the winner is (3, Informative)

wsxyz (543068) | more than 2 years ago | (#37069748)

Considering the 20 bit addresses in the 8088, I find it hard to get too worked up over the "brain damaged" 640KB limit on the original PC.
As for the 286 and 386 machines, they were limited by DOS, not by the hardware. You were only limited because you chose to run DOS.

Re:And the winner is (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070044)

Yup, If you had a real mode operating system you ceased to have the limit. I was using a *nix clone called Coherent, and the entire address space was accessible.

Mind you, in the latter stages of my DOS programming career in the late 1990s I became something of a master at used the memory extenders to load large amounts of data off of disk and do binary searches and quick sorts. It was for a customer who was still running a DOS environment, but that knowledge became fairly useless within a few years as he upgraded his server to Windows 2000 and his workstations to XP.

Re:And the winner is (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070406)

The 286's didn't often have over 640k anyways. the 386 did though, It was common to see a Meg or two of Ram. the 486 it is normal around 8 - 16 megs, The Pentium normally had 32 - 64 megs. The P2 had 128-256 megs, P3 512-1024 megs, P4 2-3 gigs... Then it slowed down for a bit and with 64 bit PC's and OS's they are moving up again... However now normal seems to be 4 - 8 gigs. We lost some time in progress, during the 2000's the 2000's we saw a lot of stagnation in Computer progress...

Re:And the winner is (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070926)

As for the 286 and 386 machines, they were limited by DOS, not by the hardware.

...but the problem was, lots of people got a PC precisely because they did want to run DOS, so the 640KB limit hung around long after 1MB+ became commonplace.

Re:And the winner is (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070014)

yea cause every other computer out at the time totally didnt get stuck at 64k or 128k, and there is a meg on board your 286, some of that has to be used for video drivers, fonts and other system crap

Re:And the winner is (1)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070050)

No variant of the IBM PC had a hardware limit of 640 KB RAM. The upper 384 KB was reserved for hardware ROMs, but memory not used by ROMs was perfectly usable by application code. All other limits were put in place by DOS.

(There very well may have been PCs sold that did not have space for enough RAM chips to reach (above) 640 KB. That is not the issue under discussion.)

Re:And the winner is (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070284)

My hatred for Microsoft all started with that in DOS. If I bought my first computer in 1993, 12 years after the 8088 in the XT then why the hell did i still have the limit! Memaker, custom autoexec.bats and config.syss for each program were TERRIBLE hacks. One program had its own drivers (thanks to DOS being braindead with no drivers) that used expanded ram. The other used extended so I would have to reboot per program as late as 1995. What a horrible operating system with just a simple command.com. ... anyway I no longer hate MS as I once did but that took a good 15 years later. I am stil angry and would have bought a Mac at the time if it were not NT 4.0 and Linux saving me. OS/2 should have taken over and it only took MS 10 later OS/2 with NT 4.0.

The original PC was terrible too and a joke that never should have monopolized the market. The Mac and Amiga had graphics, mice, icons, multimedia, while the greenscreen IBM's had beeps, 640k ram limit, with an OS with a simple braindead command.com interpretter. This was not just in 1982, but stayed taht way until 1992 10 years later. I never used these platforms and I am not a zealot. I just hated my PC and felt ripped off. I guess people who used typewritters thought greenscreens and errors were awesome and did not know any better back in the 1980s. If they did the PC never would have become popular.

Re:And the winner is (1)

onkelonkel (560274) | more than 2 years ago | (#37071020)

"The Mac and Amiga had graphics, mice, icons, multimedia, while the greenscreen IBM's had beeps,...."

You're thinking like a nerd instead of a PHB. The IBM had a fugly green screen and absolutely no style (beige box). This to a PHB screams "no-nonsense and businesslike" while all the color graphics and multimedia and mice and such said "video game". Not saying it was true, but that was the perception.

Re:And the winner is (1)

walternate (2210674) | more than 2 years ago | (#37071440)

The original PC was terrible too and a joke that never should have monopolized the market. The Mac and Amiga had graphics, mice, icons, multimedia, while the greenscreen IBM's had beeps, 640k ram limit, with an OS with a simple braindead command.com interpretter. This was not just in 1982, but stayed taht way until 1992 10 years later. I never used these platforms and I am not a zealot. I just hated my PC and felt ripped off. I guess people who used typewritters thought greenscreens and errors were awesome and did not know any better back in the 1980s. If they did the PC never would have become popular.

Many people on Slashdot often mention Amiga in connection with the first IBM PC. Just remember that the first Amiga was launched 4 years after the IBM PC. The Commodore 64, which I had when it came out, was launched the year after the IBM PC.

That said I don't disagree with Amiga being good for it's time, or C64 being much more of a runaway home PC success than IBM PC in the beginning, or Apple II deserving lots of credit for its role in introducing personal computers. The IBM PC was not first, and had limitations. But it won because of the way it built a compatible industry standard that many companies could compete on.

Re:And the winner is (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070314)

If Slashdot were to write a review of the IBM PC.
No WiFi less space then the Nomad... Lame...

That 640k limit while we all make fun it now. 640k ram cost a lot of money... PC's were supposed to be the Baby Computers not much more then slightly useful toys, where the real work was on the mainframe. At the time there wasn't any App for the PC processing power that you sanely consider that you would need to run on such a platform... Also at the time the PC wasn't expected for greatness and they figure in 2 or 3 years to replace it with a brand new Computer that had nothing to do with the old one. But they didn't expect all that legacy software to be made.

Besides how many of you guys who need to use windows now need to make a choice on staying with 32bit or 64bit OS, for software compatibility. When the 386 came out, why didn't the Hardware and the OS designed to take more the 4 gigs of RAM... Because when the 386 came out 4 gigs was unheard of amount of ram that would cost tens of thousands of dollars or more to purchase. Now with the 64 bit systems now we see the 16 exabytes accessible RAM. Who in their right mind will use 16 eb of storage? 40 years down the line I wouldn't be surprised, granted I can't figure it being smaller then a 6 meter cube.

Where's the review? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37069810)

Is this a phishing site - I see no review but a bunch of ads...
http://www.v3.co.uk/v3-uk/review/2099409/ibm-pc-original-review-personal-model-5150

popularized personal computing? (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#37069982)

It had gone from a niche hobby for super nerds to a multi million dollar industry by the time IBM got in, the only thing they did was sell to corporate whom presumably already had some contract with IBM for typewriters and other equipment in many cases

Re:popularized personal computing? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070500)

yes, personal computing with commercial ready-to-go products for home and business started in the mid 70s.

Some things never change ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37069986)

"However, a mysterious key called Scroll Lock doesn't actually do anything."

Re:Some things never change ... (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070556)

I hope you mean that most people still don't know what Scroll-lock is for, since it has uses by software on mainframes, mini-computers, microcomputers with OS such as ms-dos, windows, GNU/Linux, various Unix(tm), *BSD, Mac OS (but I don't know about osx). And of course many KVM use it.

Strange (1)

Wovel (964431) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070046)

Microsoft, for example, was involved right from the beginning. However, at the moment the machine is only sold in the US. IBM will not say when, if ever, it will come to Britain.

This paragraph is confusing. Did the reviewer believe Microsoft was a British company?

64 bit version of the 65xx processor line???!!! (1)

Danathar (267989) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070074)

"(It’s fun to toy with the idea of us all using computers directly descended from the Commodore 64.)"

I'm trying to imagine what a 64 bit descendant of the 6502 would look like...and it's not pretty :)

The 32-bit version is ARM (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070156)

I'm trying to imagine what a 64 bit descendant of the 6502 would look like

The 32-bit descendant of the 6502 is the ARM architecture. But half a year ago, ARM had no plans to expand from 40-bit to 64-bit [techspot.com], at least not until RAM hits half terabyte levels.

Re:The 32-bit version is ARM (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070528)

The 32-bit descendant of the 6502 is the ARM architecture. But half a year ago, ARM had no plans to expand from 40-bit to 64-bit [techspot.com], at least not until RAM hits half terabyte levels.

When the ARM was launched in the late 80s it was a kick-ass desktop workstation processor that could wipe the floor with a 286. They even made an ARM "accelerator card" for the PC (see here [chriswhy.co.uk] and search for "springboard").

In our IBM PC-free alternate universe, the ARM could have taken off on the desktop, inevitably migrated into servers, and would probably have got some 64-bit love rather earlier. Back in the real world, it survived by carving out a niche in mobile/embedded applications, which don't need 64 bits.

64 bits: DO THE MA+H (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070870)

Back in the real world, it survived by carving out a niche in mobile/embedded applications, which don't need 64 bits.

And I'd bet a lot of applications that aren't mobile or embedded don't actually need 64 bits in the first place. For example, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time made the jump from the 64-bit MIPS R4300 CPU in the Nintendo 64 to the 32-bit ARM CPU in the Nintendo 3DS because few parts of any N64 game actually used double precision.

It could be worse (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37070200)

"(It’s fun to toy with the idea of us all using computers directly descended from the Commodore 64.)"

I'm trying to imagine what a 64 bit descendant of the 6502 would look like...and it's not pretty :)

Unfortunately, not nearly as ugly as a 64-bit descendant of the 8088.

Re:It could be worse (1)

wsxyz (543068) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070610)

Oh yeah? Here's the architecture:

Accumulator A: 64 bits
Index register X: 64 bits
Index register Y: 64 bits
Stack pointer S: 32 bits
Direct page pointer D: 32 bits (direct page still only 256 bytes)
Address Bus: 32 bits
Data Bus: 16 bits
Clock: Provide Phi0 and Phi1 at 10 Ghz 180 degrees out of phase.
Timing: All direct page instructions execute in one cycle, others in two cycles, unless an addressing mode crosses a 256-byte page boundary, in which case an extra cycle is added.

Re:64 bit version of the 65xx processor line???!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37070802)

Well, let's see now. The 65xx line was a direct rip off of the Motorola 68xx range. Now, they want on to create the 68k (which is a lot like a PDP, but never mind that now). From the 68020 onward it was a "true" 32bit architecture, so it's not a stretch to go from there to a 64bit variant (68100 perhaps?). Or you could go from the 68k to PowerPC.

Of course that's ignoring the fact that architecturally the 68xx line is nothing like the 68k line which is nothing like PowerPC.

Re:64 bit version of the 65xx processor line???!!! (1)

NJRoadfan (1254248) | more than 2 years ago | (#37072448)

WDC did have some very rough plans to introduce a 32-bit "65832", it used some un-used opcodes from the 65816.

enh (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070234)

To us computer geeks, the PC was underpowered and expensive even for the time. And that broken keyboard... Ugh.

We got a few in at work when they first came out but weren't happy with them. It wasn't until clones with a 286 and Selectric-type keyboard started to become available that it really took off. (Wow, remember when a 286 was fast??)

Your mileage, as always, may vary, I guess.

And as far as the PC's role in popularizing computing, um, did I imagine those computer shows I attended before the PC came out?

Re:enh (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070698)

To us computer geeks, the PC was underpowered and expensive even for the time. And that broken keyboard... Ugh.

It remains a mystery to me how this overpriced, mediocre, me-too CP/M-clone machine with its not-really-16-bit processor attracted such gushing reviews (I remember reading the one in TFA when it came out). All I can assume is that no journalist wanted to "pull a Taco [slashdot.org]" and bet against the Blue Wardrobe Factory.

Re:enh (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070704)

wasn't excited until the 80286 based clones came out, then I bought one to run Coherent (Unix clone) on it. Real live multi-user multi-tasking, even on processors that weren't considered capable of it.

EOL - Power Consumption is too high no. (1)

wwbbs (60205) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070298)

LOL, funny I just tossed 50 or 60 of those machines a couple of years ago. I was keeping them until I figured out that realistically they were end of life and better off being recycled. I could by a new low powered system that would use less wattage then the of that old system. All my 30pin SIMM's were turned into key chains. they were worth 99cents that way... LOL... Sure glad the day of $100 x 1MB for ram is gone.

without IBM... and the MS monopoly (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37070354)

Without IBM and Microsoft, other architectures like the Atari ST or Amiga lines may have had a shot, and we might have a more diversified industry.

That being said, the Wintel duopoly is at an end. The post-PC era is upon us, and we aren't locked into the monopoly any more. Ever more at coffee shops and in people's homes and work places I see iPads that are replacing the x86 PC for many people. The Microsoft monopoly is over.

Re:without IBM... and the MS monopoly (1)

Vanders (110092) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070912)

Let's be honest, the Amiga wouldn't have had a shot even if it was the only computer in the world. Even Commodore management could have managed to screw that up, somehow.

Pre-EMI screening (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37070454)

"IBM warns that certain televisions and monitors (not its own) can cause data errors on disk transfers unless the screen is at least 12in away from the system unit. "

The good ol' days before the FCC stepped in and did EMI screening

Great Deal (1)

lbmouse (473316) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070474)

All for $11,000 ($6125 adjusted for 2011) you can get 128KB of RAM, a monochrome monitor, one floppy disk drive, a printer, and Visicalc.

5150 rememberances (1)

DKirk (2315490) | more than 2 years ago | (#37070764)

I had to use a dual-drive original PC for a few years in the early 80s and my first thoughts of it are the lack of a proper reset switch was always annoying. Nothing quite like the "Big Red Switch" feel when you turned the computer on. The feel and sound of the full height floppy drive door clicking as you opened and closed it. The weight was amazing.for such a little machine. The CGA and monochrome output, before the Hercules card came along, was both annoying at times as well as pretty darn good when using a plain green screen. To this day I prefer my console access to be green lettering on black. The solid blinking cursor was cool.The keyboard was awesome and it must be if it is still being sold today. Booting a DOS machine with a floppy seems to about as long as a modern machine today, not much has changed. Clones quickly followed and the acid test then was Lotus 123 and if it ran Lotus you were fine.

People still don't get why it was successful (1)

dtjohnson (102237) | more than 2 years ago | (#37071022)

Then, as now, people said 'it's too expensive...other machines (take your pick) are better/faster/cheaper.' Well, they were right, of course, but, as we now know, the IBM PC and its clones went on to absolutely destroy all of the other competition. Why? Were buyers just idiots who wanted the 'IBM' name on the front? Of course not. The reason the IBM PC and its clones went on to success was because they allowed businesses who were using typewriters, 'word processors (larger businesses),' and 'mini-computers' (even larger businesses)' to replace all of that with something much more useful. The IBM PC came with a detached keyboard, an open bus design that third-party companies could support with products that extended the capabilities with specialized gear, a reliable design, a simple DOS operating system (simple compared with the alternatives), a fairly readable monochrome monitor, and sales and support from a major player. For small businesses, it was a no-brainer to buy it, and they bought it in droves. I wrote and sold some early software for the IBM PC and most of the buyers were small businesses: doctor and dentist offices, auto repair shops, retail outlets, professional businesses, etc.

Re:People still don't get why it was successful (2)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#37071662)

Nothing about any of the other available options prevented them for being put to business use.

The only limiting factor was the lack of a respectable brand name like IBM.

You're entire rant can be summed up as "no one ever got fired for buying IBM".

Microsoft merely inherited the old monopoly.

Re:People still don't get why it was successful (1)

shoor (33382) | more than 2 years ago | (#37072026)

I agree with Jedidiah, there were other options, in particular CP/M was an operating system for the 8 bit Intel 8080 and Zilog Z-80 with quite a bit of useful software written to run on top of it, and one could buy option cards for the S-100 bus to enhance the system physically.

It was the shakeout, mediocrity won (3, Insightful)

shoor (33382) | more than 2 years ago | (#37071162)

If you can find an old computer magazine from the late 70s (BYTE, Dr Dobbs, Creative Computing, etc) you'll see ads for all kinds of different systems. It was like the early days of the automobile industry when there were many manufacturers that are all but forgotten now. Too many for it to last; there had to be what marketing people call a 'shakeout'. When IBM announced the PC, it legitimized these home computers in the minds of a lot of people who liked the idea of having a computer in their home with the 3 letters IBM on it.

But they were expensive and soon people were buying the cheaper clones. As I understand it, IBM was still mostly interested in their Mainframe business. They left the PC's architecture 'open', which allowed the cheap clones to be made. This was a decision that had important consequences I think. If IBM had suppressed the clones, what would have happened? Perhaps Apple would have become top dog in the home PC market, or perhaps some other company. Would there have ever been any 'open' architecture at all? The openness was spoiled by Microsoft cutting deals with the hardware manufacturers of those clones so that no other software had much of a chance. My feelings about Microsoft should be clear from my sig.

My big disappointment was that IBM chose to use the Intel 8086 chip. The Zilog Z8000 and Motorola 68000 were much more advanced, and I thought it was a pity that they became niche architectures by comparison. I realize IBM wasn't interested in creating something 'insanely great'. Mediocrity, or even downright inferiority prevailed. There were sound business reasons for IBM's decision at the time, but that doesn't mean I have to like the result.

Re:It was the shakeout, mediocrity won (1)

NJRoadfan (1254248) | more than 2 years ago | (#37072510)

Also keep in mind that many of the parts used in the IBM PC were shared with other product lines to keep costs down. Were they the best parts for the job? Not likely, but they were cheap and readily available to IBM at the time.

Stuff hasn't changed much... (1)

EricX2 (670266) | more than 2 years ago | (#37071688)

"All the hobbyists I know are beavering away on low-budget equipment, half the fun being able to make these puny systems really perform. I'm not sure they'd be happy with everything done for them."

Same now, and why I don't see myself using anything by Apple... I don't want everything done for me.

Amiga vs ST vs PC (1)

Colourspace (563895) | more than 2 years ago | (#37072262)

I worked in an independent computer store when I was younger, starting in 1987, just on my 13th birthday. I was there on and off through high school and university for another 10 years until the PC Worlds and Games killed off the small indie. I would sell a lot of computers to people, mainly the Amiga, but some were hell bent on the ST, which I hated at the time.. Ironically I owned a few towards the end of the 90's for MIDI sequencing - but that's another story.. Anyway, to my shame, I do remember us getting a few of the first UK 286 style PC's in, with CGA and beepers for sound. Pain in the fucking arse to add cards for graphics and sound, then write bat(?) files just to get a fucking game running.. Not really impressive next to the Amiga/ST, and I confess I did tell people that I didn't think the PC thing was going to take off and that they would be far better off with a Commodore or an Atari... Sorry! As a postscript, Apple machines were not really readily available in the UK for a long time after they were in the US. I'm sure some enthusiasts might have imported them, but getting one at retail at the time was a lot more difficult than it has become.

mhm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37072436)

"the machine that popularized personal computing" mmmmm not quite accurate. Many of us remember a little startup company back then called Apple Computer Company.

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