Feeds

The IBM PC is 30

On 12 August 1981, the world changed

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

IBM's PC predecessors

It has been claimed that the Chess' team's off-the-shelf approach was mandated by the limited development resources they were allowed, a sign that senior IBM executives saw no real future in the PC. Possibly so, and there were certainly time pressures: IBM management wanted the machine ready quickly, and Estridge and co appear to have been given a year to design the machine.

IBM Scamp

IBM's Scamp prototype
Source: Murple.net

But this was an approach IBM had taken before. In 1973, its General Systems Divison (GSD) embarked on 'Project Scamp', an effort to develop a single-user machine. Scamp stood for "Special Computer, APL Machine Portable" - the outcome was essentially a mobile personal computer-cum-calulator designed to run pre-loaded applications and allow user to write their own software using the APL language.

The Scamp team was given six-months in which to come up with a prototype. Ultimately, the result was the IBM 5100, a (barely) portable machine that weighted 23kg, had 16-64KB of storage depending on model, priced between $8975 and $19,975. It debuted in September 1975.

IBM 5100

Scamp follower: the IBM 5100
Source: Wikepedia

GSD maintained its interest in personal computer and, in July 1981, announced the System/23 Datamaster, a more PC-like machine than the 5100, but one still aimed at big business rather than individuals. The $9000 Datamaster was an all-in-one machine complete with keyboard, CRT display, 8-bit Intel 8085 processor and two 8in floppy disk drives.

The team at GSD developed the Datamaster using off-the-shelf components, most notably the Intel CPU. This choice seems to have influenced the Chess team, who eventually selected the 8088. They were familiar with the Datamaster endeavour: the 5150 would use the same expansion bus and add-in card slots as the GSD machine.

IBM System/23 Datamaster

The might-have-been PC: IBM's System/23 Datamaster
Source: Oldcomputers.net

The 5150's 8088 CPU was clocked at 4.77MHz and could be augmented with an optional 8087 maths co-processor. It had 16KB of memory and a 5.25in floppy drive - some models had two - for storage.

New hybrid storage solutions

Next page: OS Stories

More from The Register

next story
Apple iPhone 6: Missing sapphire glass screen FAIL explained
They just cannae do it in time, says analyst
Half a BILLION in the making: Bungie's Destiny reviewed
It feels very familiar - but it's still good
Oh noes, fanbois! iPhone 6 Plus shipments 'DELAYED' in the UK
Is EMBIGGENED Apple mobile REALLY that popular?
Apple's big bang: iPhone 6, ANOTHER iPhone 6 Plus and WATCH OUT
Let's >sigh< see what Cupertino has been up to for the past year
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Apple's SNEAKY plan: COPY ANDROID. Hello iPhone 6, Watch
Sizes, prices and all – but not for the wrist-o-puter
Get your Indian Landfill Android One handsets - they're only SIXTY QUID
Cheap and deafening mobes for the subcontinental masses
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.