IBM’s first personal computer was launched in the market 32 years ago on 12 August 1981. The IBM 5150 could systemise data, process text and handle spreadsheets. The small-sized computer (called microcomputer at the time) was developed in Boca Raton, a small town in Florida by a team of developers under the direction of Philip Don Estridge (1937-1985), later to be nicknamed the “father of IBM PC”.
The basic system for home use, which had no display or floppy drive, was sold for a shocking price of 1565 US dollars. The price included a computer attachable to an audio cassette player or television set, a 83-key keyboard, 40Kb ROM, 16Kb (“16384″ characters”) memory that could be increased to 256Kb, but no hard disk. The basic configuration contained various options for expandability with monochrome or colour display, disk drive and matrix printer.
The designers had no idea at the time that they were writing history. The sale of 250 thousand units was forecast for the entire life cycle of the product, an estimate that turned out to be totally wrong ? more than half a million units of IBM 5150 were sold in the first two years. Personal computers have fundamentally re-shaped our lives, work, business, education, leisure activities and communication. PCs have become indispensably part of everyday life, and IBM’s contribution to this change is undisputable.