Saturday, August 26, 2006

Weapons Of Mass Destruction (IBM Style)

I know this is hard to believe but it was 25 years ago (August of 1981) that IBM introduced the world to probably the finest WMD of all time.

I'll bet Saddam wishes he had invented it first, this thing beats a Scud by a million miles

It had a couple of names, the official name was the IBM 5150, the regular guy in the street called it the "PC".

IBM claimed that the PC was the answer to everyone's needs. At last you could have a computer on your desk, better still, it was at an affordable price. The adverts stated that you too could join the computer age for under $2000.

It turned out that the truth was slightly different. To use an automotive analogy, the PC came with a number of 'optional extras', among them wheels, engine, seats, and brakes!

Without the optional extras you had a car that did not go far.

The upshot was that after paying about $5000 you actually had a computer. Unfortunately in their haste to get to market IBM had forgotten a couple of bits to the jigsaw puzzle.

They had absolutely no programs to run on it except the operating system that our good buddy Bill had purloined from Tim Patterson.

And although IBM's main thrust was to sell these machines to companies that already owned IBM Mainframes there was no way to connect a PC to a Mainframe.

These minor issues did not dent sales. IBM had projected to sell 250,000 units in year one, and if they did, they were set to turn a tidy profit. They actually sold 3 million units in year one!

IBM was in heaven, they had cracked the personal computer market!

incidentally Bill was not doing bad either. The agreement that he had with IBM was that they would pay $20 per copy of DOS. So our good buddy Bill who had purchased DOS from Tim Patterson for $50,000 got $60 Million in revenue in year one! Now that's what I call a return on investment!

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