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CED in the History of Media Technology


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IBM 5100 Portable Computer

1975: IBM 5100 - The First IBM PC - Is Released

The little-known IBM 5100 portable computer was released in 1975, six years before the Model 5150 even though the later is often regarded as the first IBM-PC. The Model 5100 used a proprietary IBM processor called the PALM (for Put All Logic in Microcode) which itself was a production version of a prototype processor called SCAMP (for Special Computer APL Machine Portable) developed by Paul J. Friedl at the IBM Palo Alto Scientific Center in 1974. The 5100 shipped with 16K to 64K of memory, used a tape drive for program storage, and depending on configuration the machine sold for $8,975 to $19,975. The programming languages available for the 5100 included BASIC and APL (for A Programming Language).

One of the great contrasts of the early personal computer industry took place at the 1978 West Coast Computer Faire, when IBM had a fancy but largely ignored 5100 booth at a show that was dominated by computers in the $600 range. The three IBM executives in pinstripe suits found themselves next to the booth for Computer Headware. At that booth, Lyall Morrill in a propeller beanie hat was selling many copies of his hand-packed WHATSIT database (for Wow! How'd All That Stuff Get In There?).


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