Web Design Directory

  w   w   w   .   d   e   s   i   g   n   d   i   r   .   n   e   t
An industry leading web design, hosting and development directory. We bring together the best web designers and their customers. Find the lates website business news and updates.
Search DesingnDIR
Advertising | Submit Site »
   » Home Page / Industry News  
  Find Services Provider       Technology Stories        WebSite Services   
The IBM Personal Computer's 25th Anniversary

2006-08-11 09:51:00

Twenty-five years ago, IBM changed the world. It wasn't intentional. When Big Blue announced a microcomputer called the IBM Personal Computer on August 12, 1981, it hoped only to make a nice profit.

The company did make money--but more important, the IBM PC, also known as the Model 5150, made a significant impact on the culture. Today, for instance, we call our desktops and laptops PCs, not microcomputers. The vast majority of the ubiquitous machines scattered around our offices and homes are direct descendents of IBM's 25-year-old box.

Former IBM engineer David J. Bradley joined the microcomputer project in September 1980. It was "one of those things that engineers dream about...a brand new thing; a blank piece of paper."

Before the IBM PC, business computers were mainframes or minis, large and expensive investments that weren't intended for a single person's use. Since the resources were shared, computing jobs ran slowly during business hours when everyone was at work. Dedicated, technology-savvy employees would often work through the night.

Personal computers existed prior to the IBM PC--the Apple II came out in 1977, and the Atari 800 came out in 1979, for example. However, these systems used proprietary components and designs.

IBM was in a hurry, so Bradley and his coworkers had to break company policy and use other people's technology, including a processor from Intel and an operating system from Microsoft. The PC's lack of IBM-owned technology made cloning possible, and cloning--Columbia Data Products' MPC 1600-1 in 1982 was the first clone--made the PC a standard. "If we'd [built the PC] from the ground up," Bradley told me, "we wouldn't be having this conversation right now."

Although extremely significant, the original IBM PC ranks only sixth in PC World's list of The 25 Greatest PCs of All Time.
Something Special

The final result of the IBM team's work was a cool, grey, horizontal box. The keyboard and monitor were not built in, but attached with cables--common today but somewhat unusual then. If you didn't want to load programs and save files on a cassette tape, a floppy drive cost extra, as did a printer.

But the PC wasn't only well made, it was well documented, which contributed to successful cloning. Dan Bricklin, cocreator of VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet program, recalls that IBM "provided wiring diagrams and BIOS listings with comments that made it easy for programmers to write for this thing."

It wasn't your only PC choice in the early 1980s. Many popular microcomputers of the day ran an operating system from Digital Research called CP/M. Commodore's PET 2001 and Tandy's TRS-80 Model I were also established players. And two guys named Steve had a big business going with the Apple II.

But this computer had the IBM imprimatur. In 1981, if you told your employer that you wanted an Apple or an Atari, well, bosses in that era tended to think of those machines as toys. The name IBM probably did more for the PC's initial success than any other factor. Big Blue had a serious image that contrasted with the hobbyist nature of previous microcomputers.

Bradley says the question of the day was: "Do you want to buy a computer from International Business Machines or from a company named after a fruit?"
Software Contributors

Members of the IBM team weren't the only ones involved in getting the IBM PC out the door. Bricklin remembers receiving a prototype of the IBM PC, "a piece of plywood with a motherboard," well before that August date.

Dan BricklinIBM wanted him to port VisiCalc to the new platform, as it was one of the few business-oriented programs then available for microcomputers. Bricklin remembers the first IBM PC as "a really well-done machine," expandable, with a "very readable [monochrome] screen" and "a great keyboard." Two decades later, he collected his memories about the project in an essay titled "Thoughts on the 20th Anniversary of the IBM PC."

Mitch KaporMitch Kapor, whose Lotus 1-2-3 would soon supplant VisiCalc as the leading PC spreadsheet, got no early preview. But he was impressed by IBM's use of the 16-bit Intel 8088 processor. "I thought to myself, 'there's somebody very smart inside IBM,'" he says.

The 8088 had an additional advantage over its stablemate, the 16-bit 8086: It used an 8-bit data bus. So, although it could run 16-bit applications and address a full megabyte of memory, it was paired with existing 8-bit components, which kept its cost comparable to its 8-bit competition and ensured its success.

Of course, what impressed people in 1981 can seem laughable today. When Phil Lemmons, later a PC World editor in chief, reviewed the IBM PC in the October 1981 issue of Byte magazine, he was careful to note: "The system supports both uppercase and lowercase characters." (The original Apple II supported only uppercase characters.)

Others weren't that overwhelmed. Frank Wylie, now a lab supervisor for the
Library of Congress Motion Picture Division, was then a computer-savvy adolescent who owned an Atari. "From the standpoint of a 13-year-old, [the IBM machine] didn't have any of the fancy graphics," Wylie remembers. In comparison, the Apple II and the Atari 800 both offered color graphics by that time.

Nobody was really prepared for the IBM PC's instant, explosive success, especially for a machine whose $1265 base model didn't include a monitor, video card, parallel or serial port, operating system, or floppy drive. In 2001, Bradley told PC World that IBM hoped to sell 241,683 PCs over five years. Before those five years were up, the company was selling nearly that many units a month.
The Ghost in the Machine

Of course, IBM no longer makes PCs. In the mid-1980s the company attempted to take back control of the standard with a significant upgrade--the Micro Channel Architecture PS/2, which was software-compatible, but not hardware-compatible, with the PC. However, it was Compaq, the first and largest of the clone manufacturers, that offered the upgrade everyone really wanted: a PC based on Intel's 32-bit 80386 processor.

Big Blue remained a major player in the PC market throughout the 1990s, but it was no longer the biggest player. During that time it concentrated on its ThinkPad notebooks rather than desktop PCs. In 2005 IBM sold its PC division, including the ThinkPad, to the Lenovo Group.

The IBM PC is, according to Kapor, "clearly the lineal ancestor. Ninety-eight percent of the genes in its DNA are the same, but functionally today's PCs are different."

Today's computers are especially changed in how data moves in and out of them. Early PCs had no optical drives or hard drives; initially, having even a floppy drive was a nice upgrade over tape storage. Other advances we take for granted, such as PCI slots and USB ports, were still many years in the future. Modern PCs lack 5.25-inch floppy drives (if they have a floppy drive at all), parallel and serial ports, and ISA slots. "The only thing that is really the same between the original and today's [PC hardware]," says Bricklin, "is the power connector."

But today's PC can still run a great deal of early DOS software, including Bricklin's 1981 version of VisiCalc, now available for free from his Web site.There's no question about it: Bradley and his long-ago collaborators created something that lasted long beyond their hopes and expectations. Had he known, would Bradley have done anything differently? Yes, indeed. "I would have bought shares of Microsoft and Intel," he says.

Toronto SEO Expert Launches a SEO Blog
Alan K’necht, a prominent search engine optimization (SEO) expert and the president of K’nechtology Inc., a Toronto search engine optimization and search engine marketing consulting company, announces the publication of his personal SEO and Web Analytics blog.
Google battles Microsoft with new online software tools
Internet giant Google Inc. took the software battle deeper into Microsoft's territory with a new package of online services for small-business users.
Fedafi Opens the RSS Channel for Small Businesses
Fedafi, a web-based RSS generator for small- and medium-sized businesses, is launched today. Fedafi makes the creation, management, marketing and tracking of RSS and Podcast feeds easy by eliminating the need for any technical knowledge of XML. Simple to install and easy to use Fedafi breaks down technical barriers and allows anyone to create RSS and iTunes valid podcast feeds for their business, while tracking both subscribers and clicks on outbound links or media downloads.
Windows Vista goes on sale at Amazon
Internet retailer Amazon.com Inc. has started taking early orders for Microsoft Corp.'s long-delayed Windows Vista operating system, offering versions of the product from $100 to $399.
Apple works on labor issue at iPod plant
Apple Computer Inc. said Wednesday it was working to resolve a dispute over alleged labor abuses by an iPod manufacturer in China.
IBM gets US antitrust nod to buy MRO Software
Plans by International Business Machines Corp., the world's largest technology services company, to acquire MRO Software Inc. for $740 million have received U.S. antitrust approval, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.
Intel Delivers New Xeon Server Chips
Intel has introduced its latest dual-core Xeon server chips that promise to deliver significantly more processing power in multi-processor business hardware as well as greater flexibility for companies pursuing system consolidation.
Web Hosting Company Host Color Adds Calendar and New Web mail To Service
Host Color (www.hostcolor.com), a global shared web hosting provider, that offers web hosting services in US and European data centers, today announced the addition of web calendar and a new web-based e-mail to its web hosting services.
Edentity Expands Partnership with ComponentArt
Edentity Web Systems, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and developer of software products and custom Web systems is expanding their partnership with ComponentArt Inc., a privately-held software company and winner of five asp.netPRO Reader's Choice Awards, to encompass the Agility CMS, an easy-to-use, standards-based, cost-effective Web Content Management System.
IXEurope Sponsors Major Power and Cooling Summit for Datacentre Users
Following the unusually hot summer, IXEurope, one of Europe’s largest and fastest growing independent datacentre operators with 14 datacentres in the UK, Germany, France and Switzerland, is proud to announce its involvement in the largest summit in Europe for power and cooling issues in datacentre environments.

» Web Hosting Interviews
Web Hosting interviews, news and reviews. Compare the Best web hosting providers.
» Daw - Web Hosting Blog
Views and Comments about Hosting Industry. News, Trends, Products and Sevices.
» Your WebSite Here
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214 215 216 217 218 219 220 221 222 223 224 225 226 227 228 229 230 231 232 233 234 235 236 237 238 239 240 241 242 243 244 245 246 247 248 249 250 251 252 253 254 255 256 257 258 259 260 261 262 263 264 265 266 267 268 269 270 271 272 273 274 275 276 277 278 279 280 281 282 283 284 285 286 287 288 289 290 291 292 293 294 295 296 297 298 299 300 301 302 303 304 305 306 307 308 309 310 311 312 313 314 315 316 317 318 319 320 321 322 323 324 325 326 327 328 329 330 331 332 333 334 335 336 337 338 339 340 341 342 343 344 345 346 347 348 349 350 351 352 353 354 355 356 357 358 359 360 361 362 363 364 365 366 367 368 369 370 371

» Submit your site to Web Design Directory

About Us | Advertising | Privacy | Terms Of Use | Contact Us

© DesignDIR.net 2003 - 2017, part of of Business Address Network. All Rights Reserved!