Columbia University Computing History

The IBM PC

The original IBM PC Date: 1981. Intel 4.77MHz 8088 processor (16 bit segmented addressing, 8-bit data paths). Two 5.25" 160K floppy diskette drives. Basic in ROM. Boots DOS 1.0 from diskette. 16-64K RAM. Cassette recorder interface. Green 12"-diameter screen capable of monochrome graphics. No hard drive (adding hard drives to the PC would be a cottage industry until the IBM PC/XT was announced). This extremely modest machine and its successors would dominate the desktop market for decades to come.

Columbia University ordered 20 of them sight-unseen on the day it was announced and presented them to high-ranking professors and administrators. Initially there was no way for the PC to communicate with our central mainframes (including, ironically, big IBM machines), and this was a major impetus to the Kermit Project.

Frank da Cruz / fdc@columbia.edu / Columbia University Computing History / Jan 2001 / Updated: 27 May 2019