The PC Turns 25

In August 1981, IBM introduced the 5150 personal computer. It was not really the first personal computer, but it turned out to be “The Personal Computer,” and it revolutionized not just business life, but also the way people thought about the world.

The 1981 PC was a break with IBM’s previous business model, according to which it did not sell computers, but leased them. With the 5150, IBM moved into mass production of a standardized commodity using components produced by other companies. “Big Blue” (as IBM is known) allowed other companies (notably the infant Microsoft) to develop its software.

No good deed goes unpunished: by making the PC, IBM practically destroyed itself as a company. Its innovation gave rise to a huge number of new and dynamic companies, forcing IBM to reinvent itself completely in order to compete with them – just one example of the socially transformative effects of the PC.

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