Feeds

The IBM PC is 30

On 12 August 1981, the world changed

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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.

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Next page: OS Stories

More from The Register

next story
Nexus 7 fandroids tell of salty taste after sucking on Google's Lollipop
Web giant looking into why version 5.0 of Android is crippling older slabs
All aboard the Poo Bus! Ding ding, route Number Two departing
Only another three days of pooing and I can have a ride!
Heyyy! NICE e-bracelet you've got there ... SHAME if someone were to SUBPOENA it
Court pops open cans of worms and whup-ass in Fitbit case
SLURP! Flick your TONGUE around our LOLLIPOP – Google
Android 5 is coming – IF you're lucky enough to have the right gadget
Official: European members prefer to fondle Apple iPads
Only 7 of 50 parliamentarians plump for Samsung Galaxy S
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Space Commanders rebel as Elite:Dangerous kills offline mode
Frontier cops an epic kicking in its own forums ahead of December revival
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
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?
Internet Security Threat Report 2014
An overview and analysis of the year in global threat activity: identify, analyze, and provide commentary on emerging trends in the dynamic threat landscape.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.