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  PC-Net's PC News - August 2001
 
Don Watkins

The PC Turns 20

By Don Watkins

 
 
 

 

On August 12, 1981 IBM announced their entry into the PC market. It wasn't the first PC, there were already a large number of players in the personal computer market including Apple and Radio Shack, events like the West Coast Computer Fair were active and participation was high. One could argue that it wasn't the best PC but it made a powerful statement; a major computer company was throwing their weight into the concept of a personal computer.

If you'd like to take a look at a scan of the original announcement click here.

For those of us in the corporate world is was a great sign, we could probably get company funding for personal computers if it came from a company like IBM. After all in those days the catch phrase in the data processing business was "nobody ever got fired for buying IBM".

Ah, the "good old days" but were they? While it's true that computers were reasonably simple and easily programmed they were indeed crude and expensive by today's standards.

If you'd like to take a look at a scan of the 1981 price list click here.

Things weren't cheap at all. Keep in mind we're talking a machine with no hard drive, a 4.77Mhz processor and a minimal amount of memory. Here was my dream machine:

64k Memory & 2 160Kb disk drives   $3,045

Monochrome display                            345

Display adapter                                   335

Dot matrix printer                                 777

Disk controller                                     220

DOS                                                    40

Yikes! And that's with no software and no discounts. In fact many dealers were able to charge a premium because of demand.

So perhaps when we think back to the good old days they weren't really so good at all. Software was scarce, the original PC launched with very little software available, a word processor, a spreadsheet, an Accounting suite and a single game for the rich guys that could afford graphics.

But just think what the little box launched.

Happy Birthday PC.

Until next time best in computing.

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