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The IBM PC turns 20

IBM wasn't the first company to sell a personal computer when it introduced the 5150 in August 1981. But its entry is credited with igniting the PC era.


By CNET Staff
August 10, 2001, 4:00 a.m. PT

Mixed record as PC turns 20
IBM's entry into the PC market has been viewed alternately as a stroke of brilliant technological foresight and the biggest business blunder of the 20th century.
August 10, 2001 

The "Dirty Dozen" remembers
Twenty years after helping change the direction of computing, participants in the project to develop the first IBM PC say they were concerned less about making history than about making deadline.
August 10, 2001 

Apple's lead evaporates
Apple Computer welcomed IBM to the fledgling industry in 1981, but it turned out to be an invitation for IBM to become synonymous with the PC and relegate Apple to a niche player.
August 10, 2001 

PC future: Evolution, not revolution
Five to 10 years from now, your PC's processor likely will run at 20GHz and its hard disk will hold 20 terabytes of data. But beyond that, the PC probably won't be profoundly different.
August 10, 2001 

Your first PC: Ah, memories...
Readers share their earliest PC memories. Responses reveal a passion for the power of the personal computer.
August 10, 2001 

Anatomy of a computer-phile
bullpen CNET's Scott Ard shares the random experiences with a succession of early computers that cemented his lifelong passion with the PC.
August 10, 2001 

Pioneers reminisce on 20 years of the PC
What made the IBM PC a truly revolutionary device when it debuted in 1981? The technical reference manual that came with it, for one thing.
August 9, 2001 

Click here to Play

  Gates on first Compaq clones
Bill Gates, chairman, Microsoft, and Rod Canion, co-founder, Compaq

 IBM looks at the PC 20 years later
Dave Bradley, engineer, IBM

  Your first PC?
Attendees of IBM's PC anniversary celebration

  IBM engineer pokes fun at Gates
Dave Bradley, engineer, IBM, and Bill Gates, chairman, Microsoft

  Gates' last solo software accomplishment
Bill Gates, chairman, Microsoft

  Why has the PC lasted so long?
Dan Bricklin, founder, Trellix

  Intel's chairman reluctant techie?
Andy Grove, chairman, Intel

Ralph Bond, Intel's consumer education manager, says IBM "validated" the concept of the PC for the mass market. (7:07) 
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David Bradley, one of the engineers who worked on IBM's first PC, says the rapid consumer adoption of the PC took IBM by surprise. (3:45) 
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Charles Simonyi, a distinguished engineer at Microsoft, says the next 20 years of computing will be even more exciting and innovative. (3:10) 
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