|IBM PC : 1981||PC||Mar 04 2011|
This is a geek's version of the "55 Chevy" in the garage. Actually, the unit shown below is a 1984 XT model which, besides the full-height floppy disk drive, finally had a built-in 10MB hard drive!
The IBM 5100 (1974/5) was IBM's first attempt at a "personal computer". It featured built in BASIC and oddly enough APL as the Operating System. A 16k memory unit cost $11K and a 64K memory unit cost 20K in 1975 dollars! No wonder their second try seeemed focused on getting the cost down. It only took them 6 years later, and two guys in a Garage building the first Apple Computer, to show them how to do it right. IBM chose the 8-bit 8088 (1979) version of the 8086 for the IBM 5150 PC (1981) when most of the alternatives were much better. Apparently IBM's own engineers wanted to use the Motorola 68000, and it was used later in the forgotten IBM Instruments 9000 Laboratory Computer, but IBM already had rights to manufacture the 8086, in exchange for giving Intel the rights to its bubble memory designs. Apparently IBM was using 8086s in the IBM DisplayWrite word processor. Other factors were the fact that the 8-bit 8088 could use existing low cost 8085-type components, and allowed the computer to be based on a modified 8085 design. 68000 components were not widely available, though it could use 6800 components to an extent.
The availability of CP/M-86 was also likely a factor, yet Big Blue and Digital Research didn't hit it off so Microsoft, a programming language company, was hired to provide the operating system. Microsoft was not in the OS business at the time but that didn't matter! In the Deal of the Century, a product initially known as QDOS, SCP-DOS, and finally 86-DOS, was purchased by Microsoft from Seattle Computer Products for $50K and renamed MS-DOS. The old Business School "Build versus Buy" scenario? No question here! Digital Research did eventually produce CP/M 68K for the 68000 series, making the operating system choice less relevant than other factors. Intel bubble memory was on the market for a while, but faded away as better and cheaper memory technologies arrived.