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20th Anniversary of the IBM PC

Boot Camp feature for Thursday, August 9, 2001

The 20th anniversary of the personal computer. Bloomberg Bootcamp, a report on today's technology. The date was August 12th, 1981. IBM held a press conference in New York City to unveil the IBM Personal Computer... .

"The first PC had an Intel 8088 microprocessor, it could address one megabyte of memory. It ran at 4.77MHz and could execute about a quarter of a million instructions every second. Those numbers are about a thousand times slower than what you would expect to be able to do today."

IBM's Dave Bradley... one of the original team of 12 engineers assigned to build that PC. For storage... there was a 160 kilobyte floppy diskette. The cheapest and most popular operating system that ran on the computer was DOS... .which in a fateful decision... .IBM licensed from a little company called Microsoft. The rest is history. Bradley, who created the control-alt-delete solution for re-booting the PC... .says it was more fun than working on mainframes...

"This was a product that you could show your family. You might even buy one and end up bringing it home. If you worked on a 370, that probably was never going to happen."

IBM hoped to sell 250 thousand PCs over five years. By that time... they were selling that many in a month. Looking at what has happened since, Bradley says...

"It's been phenomenal. We never expected it to be that big."

And he never thought we'd still be hitting control-alt-delete. Bloomberg Bootcamp, I'm Fred Fishkin.