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This day marks the release, 31 years ago in 1981, of the very first IBM Personal Computer (PC) model 5150.

The original IBM PC. (R de Rijcke, Wikimedia Commons)

Developed in less than a year, using existing off-the-shelf components, it proved a runaway success in the small business market, and launched the era of the personal computer. The IBM PC used an operating system developed by Microsoft, helping to establish Microsoft’s dominance in the in the PC market.

Specifications of the original IBM PC included an Intel 8080 processor with a processing speed of 4.77 MHz, 16-64K memory and data storage consisting of 5.25″ floppy drives, cassette tape and (later on) a hard disk.

Even though the term “personal computer” wasn’t first coined by IBM (it was used as early as 1972 in reference to the Xerox PARC Alto), the success and prevalence of the IBM product resulted in the term PC referring specifically to computers and components compatible to the IBM PC. This led to peripherals and components being advertised as ‘IBM format’, further cementing IBM as the industry standard.

The IBM Blue Gene/P system (2008), capable of 14 trillion individual calculations per second. Yep, it’s a bit faster than the IBM PC model 5150!
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As a result of it’s amazing longevity (many IBM PCs have remained in use well into the 21st century), and the fact that it represents the first true personal computer, the original IBM PC have become popular among collectors of vintage PCs.

So, if you happen to still have an old model 5150 sitting in a cupboard somewhere, treasure it – depending on it’s condition it can be worth almost $5000, and unlike just about all other electronic equipment in your house, it’s value may actually increase!