PC Nostalgia

This article The IBM PC: Was it really only 33 years ago? popped up in Zite (a highly recommended app) yesterday. Like Colin Barker, the article’s author, I remember the announcement of the IBM PC. Unlike Colin, I didn’t find the announcement particularly exciting; the specs were uninspiring compared to personal computers that were already available. The research department in which I worked at the time used the ACT Sirius 1, which was a much better machine. Of course, despite our scepticism, the IBM PC was a success just because it was from IBM.

Around the time the IBM PC arrived in the UK, I had changed jobs. I was the Software and Training Manager, which sounds a lot grander than it actually was, in a high street retail operation. Part of my role was to support the sales team whenever they needed something more than a simple client demo. I recall one of the first sales in which I was involved was to a large insurance company in the area. One department was looking for a solution that their own IT people couldn’t provide. I don’t remember the client requirements, but I do remember that I had a few days to learn a new, integrated package—word processing, database and spreadsheet—and show the client how this would satisfy their main requirements, which was database-related. This I managed to do and we made the sale.

What I remember most is the cost of the PC. We sold the client an IBM PC XT that had 256 KB of RAM, a 10 MB hard disk and a CGA screen with 640×480 resolution… £4200—over half the annual average wage at the time! Today you can buy an iMac with a 27″ screen with 12 times the resolution, 8 gig memory and a 1 TB disk for £1599.

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