It was on August 12, 1981, that IBM launched what we know of today, as the ‘personal computer’. That was over 30 years ago–we’ve come a long way since that time. Check out these technical specifications on that 30 year old computer:
The model 5150 featured a 4.77 MHz 8 to 16 bit Intel 8088 processor. It had a whopping 16 kb of RAM (yes, that’s ‘kb’), oh but wait, it was expandable to 256 kb and your choice of either one or two 160 kb floppy drives for your storage and for the visuals, a monochrome monitor. By the way, this PC did not come with an internal hard drive, that component wasn’t included in the IBM PC until March 1983, in the XT model.
Now compare this to say a current model Dell computer which has a multi-core processor running at upwards of 3.0 GHz and with a base memory of 6 gb of RAM, expandable to 16 gb. Includes an internal hard drive standard. There is one thing that the early PC had that the now generation PC does not have…a floppy drive! No great loss, in today’s world, files are just too big for these outdated devices.
It’s hard to imagine that we used these PC’s on a daily basis. A simple Word document of today would just about fill one floppy disk up. And you couldn’t even think about running any of our memory hungry and processor intensive software programs of today on one of these. As I recall, because the original PC did not have a hard drive, each time you wanted to use a certain software package, you had to load it from the floppy disks. Depending on the size of the program, this could take multiple times of switching floppies in and out of the floppy drive.
Today, our iPods, iPads, game consoles and calculators have more memory and processor power than these early desktop computers. But you know what, we loved them back then and they worked, given the software programs of the time.
According to wired.com, depending on how you configured your new PC, it could run you anywhere from $1,565 to $6,000, that’s $4,000 to $15,000 in today’s dollars. Yikes!
I couldn’t afford an original IBM PC, so I opted to get get an IBM PC ‘clone’ as they were called. It was from a company by the name of Leading Edge and it served me well for several years. The configuration I purchased did not come with an internal hard drive, so I purchased a 20 mb hardcard which fit into a slot inside the computer, just like a peripheral card would. Back then, I thought I would never come close to using that much hard drive capacity, boy was I wrong!
Some interesting reading from wired.com and thinq.co.uk
More details on the IBM PC at wikipedia.com