Happy 30th Birthday, IBM!

By , Columnist

Even as a converted Macintosh user, I can appreciate an IBM, the computer on which I learned basic keystrokes, played hours of River Raid, and used to log in to my first chat room.

Today marks 30 years since IBM rolled out the 5150, its first personal computer with 64K of RAM, an audio cassette to load and save data, and no hard drive. The PC sold for $1,565, which equates to $4,000 today, and at its peak sold around 300 million units per year. With the advent of newer, smarter, and faster models, IBM chose to opt out of the personal computer business in 2005 and sold its PC division to Lenovo.

Even though IBM wasn’t the first to develop a personal computer, the term PC came to mean “a microcomputer compatible with IBM's PC product,” which set a personal computing standard. IBM also holds the bragging rights for developing the Commodore 64, which is the world's best-selling computer of all time according to Time Magazine.

Mark Dean, one of the original IBM engineers, believes the personal computer is going the way of vacuum tubes, typewriters, and vinyl records as PCs are no longer at the leading edge of computing. Mark recently traded in his PC for a tablet as a primary computer himself.

According to the IBM archives, “it wasn't that long before the August 1981 debut of the IBM PC that an IBM computer cost as much as $9 million and required an air-conditioned quarter-acre of space and 60 people to run and keep it loaded with instructions.”

The first home computers were a bit smaller but we have come a long way since those black screens with blinking monochromatic green DOS prompts that tested technological bounds and our patience. While those problems might be a distant memory, innovation begets new problems, and fortunately, new objects of aggression that don't fight back.

Song NSFW or for virgin ears:

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Holly is a freelance writer and copy editor with a background in journalism and publishing. Like a grandmother's purse, she is about three decades old, worn around the edges and mostly full of crap.

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