How Far We’ve Come Since The IBM PC

As we approach Christmas and the New Year, thinking of family, reflecting on the past, and anticipating the future, I thought you’d get a kick out of this 1984 IBM computer Christmas commercial and my personal reflections of its history.

I bought one of the original IBM PCs in August 1981, fully loaded for about $5,000 (in 1981 dollars) with an IBM employee discount and payments taken out of my monthly pay check.

IBM PCFEATURES:

  • 4.77 MHz processor, maxed out 64K RAM,
  • not one but two 120KB diskette drives (instead of using a cassette tape recorder),
  • monochrome display (versus connecting to TV),
  • 300 bps telephone modem,
  • IBM DOS 1.0,
  • BASIC,
  • EasyWriter word processor,
  • VisiCalc spreadsheet,
  • Asynchronous Communications Program, and
  • Early Games (a kids game for Adrian).

I started Adrian on the PC at age 2, sitting him on my lap and using a piece of cardboard to mask off most of the keyboard – all but the number keypad. Early Games started by teaching the shapes of numbers, such as how a 3 looks like an 8 with its loops open on the left. Today Adrian is 30 and has a two year old of his own, and kids these days start using smartphones and tablet computers at even earlier ages. And our elderly parents age 82 and over can use them.

Oh by the way, my toothbrush now has an embedded microprocessor that is faster than that PC – much faster. It’s actually ten times faster than the $3.5 million IBM mainframe that I worked on in the mid-1970’s. And my iPhone 5? It’s more than 10,000 times faster than the mainframe, and I carry it in my pocket with wireless access to the world through the Internet. How time flies.