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IBM Computers History

Updated on September 21, 2012
Blue Gene supercomputer made by IBM
Blue Gene supercomputer made by IBM | Source

About IBM Corporation

The name of the company stands for International Business Machines. Sometimes IBM is called "The Big Blue". This corporation has a very long history and had a great influence on computer development. IBM company manufactures and sells computers and other machines that are created to meet various consumer's needs. Also IBM provide great variety of software. IBM is one of the world's largest companies with thousands of employees. Their influence on computer development must be appreciated. Their first personal computer called IBM PC became one of the leaders in computer industry. That is why it should be interesting to know more about IBM computers.

Operator's console of IBM 701 computer
Operator's console of IBM 701 computer | Source

IBM 701

IBM released their firs commercial scientific computer in 1952. It is known that the well known phrase that there is a market for only five computers is connected to this model. Well, at that moment "only" nineteen IBM 701 systems were installed. It is four times more than it was expected.

IBM 701 was first large-scale computer the company made. It was first their commercial model. First time the company used internal addressable electronic memory. This computer was the key factor in transition from punched cards computers to real electronic computes. So, it can be said that IBM 701 started the era of electronic computers in IBM company.

In 1956 IBM 701 was upgraded to IBM 704, which was the first computer, that was able to work with floating point numbers. Another improvement that cam with IBM 704 was magnetic core memory, which was more reliable and faster.

IBM 5100: portable computer
IBM 5100: portable computer | Source

IBM 5100

IBM's portable computer was introduces in 1975. Six years later the IBM PC was released. This portable computer was not so portable, comparing to today's laptops or tablets. IBM 5100 weighted approximately 50 pounds. It was something between IBM typewriter and IBM PC. The machine was intended to solve problems, that engineers, analysts or other people encounter. The price foe IBM 5100 was approximately $14,500. There were models, which were sold for $10,000, and there were some, which were sold for $20,000. The IBM 5100 was able to work with BASIC programming language.

IBM PC (5150)
IBM PC (5150) | Source


Since the creation of IBM 701 many things have changed. In 1980 Bill Gates and IBM representatives met for the first time and had a great discussion about writing an operating system. Operating system was needed for the IBM's newest product - a personal computer, that will be known as IBM PC. At that moment personal computer market was growing. They released the new product, known as IBM 5100, but this model did not succeed. So, the new product was being developed. IBM PC was firstly code named as Acron, and in 1981 it was released as IBM PC.

The specification of IBM PC was quite funny, if we compare it to today's computers. It had 4,77 MHz Intel 8088 microprocessor, 16 kbytes of memory (expandable to 256k). This model also had one or two floppy disk drives and optional color monitors. It's price was about $1,500. Evaluating inflation and other economical factors, such a device today would cost about $4,000.

The wonderful solution, that IBM used for IBM PC was open architecture. Open architecture is a type of computer architecture that allows adding, upgrading and swapping components. The closed architecture means that hardware components cannot be upgraded and they are chosen by manufacturer.


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  • nicomp profile image

    nicomp really 4 years ago from Ohio, USA

    Good question. I will look for something.

  • Silwen profile image

    Silwen 4 years ago from Europe

    Well, is seems I need to read a little bit about that. Could you recommend a good source (I prefer books), to read about that?

  • nicomp profile image

    nicomp really 4 years ago from Ohio, USA

    On the other hand, I am not sure, if open architecture means that hardware can be copied by third parties.

    It does mean that.

    IBM built the original PC from stock parts because they had no budget for the project and it was the cheapest way to get the product to market. They contracted with Microsoft for the O/S because they had no budget to write their own.

  • Silwen profile image

    Silwen 4 years ago from Europe

    On the other hand, I am not sure, if open architecture means that hardware can be copied by third parties. I suppose third parties can manufacture components that are compatible with open architecture device, and end user is able to upgrade the hardware himself.

  • Silwen profile image

    Silwen 4 years ago from Europe

    nicomp, thank you for correcting me and updating information. I will update my hub adding this facts.

  • nicomp profile image

    nicomp really 4 years ago from Ohio, USA

    "Open architecture means that a device can be built form off the shelf parts. "

    Open Architecture means that the design of a device is available for third parties to copy.

    IBM quickly learned that their profit margins were affected by the choice to use off-the-shelf parts. They abandoned the original design and came out with the PS/2, which contained a proprietary design.

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