Happy birthday, IBM PC. Thirty years ago today, at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, IBM launched its first mass-market personal computer.
The IBM 5150 PC was not the first personal computer. The Apple II was on the market then, as were computers from Commodore and Atari and from several vendors selling CP/M micros. But it was, by any measure, the most important.
Although not for technical reasons. IBM designed the computer architecture, for example, but neither the CPU nor the operating system. Rather, what made the IBM PC such a watershed was that, first, it came from IBM, the company that had computing technology already installed at just about every major company. Second, it was the first successful open computing platform. The PC-compatible era gave us Compaq and then hundreds of "clone" vendors. It gave us the software industry as we know it. And today, the vast majority of desktop and laptop computers that the world uses are direct descendants of decisions made at IBM in 1980.
In this Reporters' Roundtable, we're going to talk about how the PC came to be today, as well as look at where it is and where it's going, with two guests I think you're really going to enjoy hearing from.
First, a previously recorded interview with David Bradley, one of the engineers on the original IBM PC project. He wrote the BIOS code and is famous for creating the Ctrl-Alt-Delete reset command. Bradley retired in 2004 after more than 28 years with IBM. He has also been an adjunct professor at Florida Atlantic University and North Carolina State University. Bradley received a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Purdue University.
After that interview, we'll talk with Michael J. Miller, former editor in chief of PC Magazine, and now senior VP for technology strategy at Ziff Brothers Investments. I worked with Michael in 1988 when he was my boss at InfoWorld. He is extraordinarily knowledgeable about the history of computing, and has a sharp eye for what works in technology, and why. Michael still writes the Forward Thinking column for the PC Magazine site. This week, he wrote several stories about the IBM PC's birthday.