Saturday, August 12, 2006

Happy birthday PC

It was confusing yesterday. A Dutch radio station and a commercial television station in the Netherlands had contributions about the 25th anniversary of the first PC. But it was today 25 years ago that IBM released its first PC. In 1981 that was a big happening. IBM was the top of the bill in computing; their authority weighed in. Besides IBM bundled an operating system with the PC. This eventually led to an industry standard, via MS-Dos to Windows. The 1981 model, monochrome PC cost approximately $3,000 (U.S.), equivalent to approximately $5,700 (U.S.) in today's dollars. The small number of consumers who opted for a colour monitor and graphics card paid about $4,500 (U.S.). Time magazine chose the "personal computer" as its 1982 Man of the Year.

Long before (in computer terms) I already worked on a personal computer which had the fabulous name Superbrain. In fact I got a Superbrain unit in 1980. You would not believe it now. It had a memory of 32KB and two 5.25" 180KB floppy drives. On order to run it, you needed the operating system CPM/2.2. It had a text editor, which was replaced by Wordstar. Instructors attempted to teach me the program Spreadsheet, the precursor of Excel. It had also a terminal emulator named Kermit for online. In the VNU lab, VNU Database Publishing International (VNU DPI) we could play with the machines and get familiar with the applications.

The first machine I owed myself was a Zenith Model 100, a portable with a screen of eight lines and an internal memory of 40K. It was a beautiful, very portable machine, which I used while I was in the hospital in 1983 and in the London underground, which must have been a strange sight at that time. Despite the 40K internal memory, I wrote a book on it, regularly downloading the chapters to the Superbrain. I still have the machine and it is still in working condition. I recently found back the complementary bra-shaped modem. I did not attempt an online session.

I never had an original IBM PC. Since 1986 I have had several stand alone clones and now I work on a Dell.

BTW The IBM PC did have the codename Acorn, a name which was in 1982 given to the PC used in the BBC computing program.


Blog Posting Number 472

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