The IBM PC – 25 years old today

After reporting on the 15th anniversary of the world wide web earlier this week, there’s another important milestone in computing history to highlight today – the 25th birthday of the original IBM PC – the 5150.

IBM PC

Whilst the 5150 was not the first personal computer, the use of components that were available to other manufacturers led to the development of IBM-compatible PCs and today’s PCs and PC servers are direct descendents from the original IBM PC, albeit much more powerful than the 4.77MHz Intel 8088 with between 16 and 640KB of RAM.

Amstrad PPC640

I didn’t get my first IBM-compatible PC until 1988 when my parents bought me an Amstrad PPC640 portable computer (it’s still in my loft at home) with an NEC V30 8MHz processor, 640KB of RAM, a full-size 102-key keyboard, two 720KB 3.5″ floppy disk drives and a 2400 baud modem (which my secondary school let some of my friends and I use for short periods of time to access bulletin boards). It was best described as “luggable” but, paired with the Citizen 120D dot matrix printer (that I also still have at home), it was more than adequate for word processing and saw me through my first year at Uni’ until I used all my childhood savings to buy an Intel 80386-based PC clone with a 1MB graphics card, MS-DOS 5.0, and Windows 3.0.

Fast forward 15 years and you can pick up a PC for just a couple of hundred pounds – or, if you’ve got a few thousand to spend then it’s possible to specify some very high specification PC servers! Earlier this week I was specifying some servers for a virtualisation solution that I’m working on. Each of these servers is an HP DL585 with 4 dual-core 2.6GHz AMD Opteron 64-bit CPUs, 32GB of RAM and has a fibre-channel connection to an HP Modular Storage Array with many terabytes of data storage. How mighty oaks from little acorns grow.

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