THE YEAR WAS 1981, the US defeat in Vietnam was six years previously, while many people had only hazy memories of the majority of the 1970s with its drugs, bellbottom trousers and disco craze. Ronald Reagan was US President, and it was”Morning in America” once more.
The first IBM PC was not much by today’s standards. It had an Intel 8088 processor that ran in the blazing speed of 4.77MHz.
A computer keyboard and 12in monochrome monitor were included, with a colour monitor optional. The 5150 conducted IBM BASIC in ROM and came with a PC-DOS boot diskette put out by a previously unknown startup software company based out of Seattle called Microsoft.
IBM priced its first IBM PC at $1,565, which was a relatively steep cost in those days, worth about $5,000 now, give or take a couple of hundred dollars. In the US in 1981, it was about the price of a good used car.
The IBM PC was intended to be sold to the general public, but IBM did not have any retail shops, so the business sold it through the US catalogue retailer Sears & Roebuck stores.
IBM tried to maintain the PC market for itself by introducing its Micro-Channel Architecture, but the buying public refused. Soon other sellers joined the PC hardware market, software like Visicalc, Lotus 123 spreadsheet programs as well as the Wordperfect word processing programs appeared, The IBM PC based personal computing industry took off and never went backwards.
But now, after 30 years of growth and countless billions of dollars in hardware and software sales, it was probably time we remembered this important date in 1981.