Exactly 40 years ago, the era of mass home use of computers began. Its beginning was marked by the start of sales of the IBM 5150 – the world’s first personal computer. Since then, the term “personal computer” or PC has become a household name and is used for all devices of this class.
The 5150 was developed by IBM in the summer of 1980. The team of 150 engineers worked in strict secrecy, not discussing their developments even with other employees of the company. In April 1981, the novelty was transferred to mass production, and on August 12 of the same year it entered the market at a price of $ 1565 for the basic configuration.
The technical characteristics of the IBM 5150 now cause a smile, but at that time the device was considered very productive for a computer that could fit on a table and did not cost more than a car. It was built on the basis of an 8-bit Intel 8088 processor with a frequency of 4.77 MHz, which worked in conjunction with 16 KB of RAM. For rendering graphics, depending on the configuration, a monochrome or color graphic adapter was responsible, displaying up to 16 shades. The package included a monitor: monochrome IBM 5151 or color IBM 5153. In addition, the computer was supplied with an IBM Model F keyboard with 83 keys, a speaker and up to two 5.25-inch floppy disk drives with a volume of 160 or 320 KB. The IBM 5150 boasted ports for connecting a hard drive or cassette recorder, as well as five expansion card slots, serial and parallel ports.
It was the affordability that made the IBM 5150 a truly mainstream device. A model that can fit on a table has been produced by the company since 1975. However, the IBM 5100 could not become mass due to the fact that its cost exceeded $ 20 thousand, which is why large companies and scientific institutions became the main buyers of the computer. But the IBM 5150 sold 40 thousand devices in the first month. In 1983, more than 750 thousand computers of this model were sold, while DEC, the closest competitor to IBM, sold only 69 thousand of its PCs. It is important to note that more than half of IBM’s personal computers were purchased for home use.
In 1984, IBM sold more than $ 4 billion in PCs, accounting for more than half of the global personal computer market. However, over time, the company was ousted by competitors offering copies of its legendary creation. At the moment, PC sales are reaching just under 300 million units per year.