In 1967, IBM built the world’s first floppy diskette. Its transition to computers, thereafter, was quite predictable. IBM turned out to be so successful in computer design and production that it broke previously set sales records too.
IBM entered the portable computers market in 1975, capturing the market faster than anyone else. In no time, IBM had become a monopoly with a lion’s market share and they ruled until the late 1980s.
IBM produced a wide range of computers considered ‘vintage’ today, including the following:
IBM 5100: This was the entry level system of IBM. 5100 is considered to be the world’s first portable computer. Weighing a hefty 55 pounds, its portability was quite limited. 5100 was released in 1975 with a price tag $19,975. It had a 1.9 MHz CPU with 16 KB of RAM that could be expanded to 64 KB. As far as the operating system is concerned, 5100 hundred supported both APL and BASIC.
IBM 5150: It is this computer that set IBM on its way to market dominance. 50,000 5150 units were sold within 8 months from its introduction in 1981.? The 5150 had an Intel 8088, 4.77 MHz CPU. From the basic 16 KB RAM, it could be expanded to as much as 640 KB. An 83 key keyboard came along with it. This keyboard also had 10 function keys. The basic system was priced at $1,565.
IBM 5110: This computer was designed to fulfill the data processing needs of a small business. Released in 1978, 5110 was the successor of 5100. In the time span of 3 years, it had shed approximately 12 pounds of weight and $10,000 dollars in cost. Although the CPU had not changed, 5110 was able to support a dual floppy disk drive. It had internal memory storage of 200 KB. Overall this system was pretty much the same as its predecessor.
IBM PC XT 286: This system was introduced in 1986 and had a short lived career with about 20,000 units being produced. It had 640 KB RAM and 64 KB of ROM on board. 286 was equipped with an Intel 80286, 6 MHZ computer. With a 20 MB hard disk, it was able to store a large amount of data. Its introductory price was $4000.
IBM PS/2: PS/2 was made in an attempt to regain control of the market that Compaq had gradually taken away from IBM. It was released in 1987. The PS/2 mouse and keyboard interface in use today was introduced by this system. It had a 40 megabyte hard disk and 2 megabytes of RAM.
IBM produced computers of such high quality and durability that until 2006, many of its PC and XT models were still used by the National Weather Service at upper air observation sites. A major factor behind IBM’s loss of market control was the pricing of its computers. Companies such as Compaq reverse engineered IBM’s PC BIOS and saved up millions of dollars that they would have otherwise had to spend on research and development of the same.
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