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IBM 5100

Hattip to Ann Althouse.  A trip down tech memory lane.  The IBM 5100 came out in 1975, the year I went off to the U of I as a freshman.  I was fascinated by computers, so I would hang around the Foreign Language Research Building until 11:00 PM and play Space War on one of the main frames until the administration put a stop to that the next semester.

Note in the commercial that IBM says the computer cost is “reasonable”.  In 1975 dollars you would pay 11,000 for the 16kb version.  For the 64kb  version the cost was twenty grand, which was the entire annual income for my parents at that time.  When I started practicing law I earned 16,000 my first year out.  The IBM 5100 was definitely only for businesses, the rich or the truly crazed tech heads.  I didn’t obtain my first computer, a Commodore 64, until 1987, and that cost my wife and I $1,000.00 for 64kb  ( Fortunately my wife loves computers as much as I do).  The next year we picked up an IBM with the same memory for a grand.  We then did an upgrade almost immediately so we would have two, count them!, two floppy drives.  An IBM with a harddrive had to wait until 1991.  That first harddrive had 20MB and I recall wondering how we would ever fill up that space.

The way in which men dressed back in the seventies as displayed in the commercial gave me a leisure suit flashback just now!  Time for me to lie down, take a soothing glass of milk and forget about that kidney stone of a decade!

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

6 Comments

  1. Was that “floppy disk” in the commercial a disk or a cassette? Just curious, because if it was a disk, that would have been space-age technology back then!

    My father loved computers as well and I remember the TRS-80 Model I where we initially had to enter the data manually to play games on and then we got the state of the art “tape recorder” that could download the games for us!

    Eventually we upgraded to the Model III and got use 7 1/8 floppies!

  2. Ah, I was learning Fortran in the basement of OSU in 1978 using keypunch and S/360. First home system was the IBM luggable with dual floppies. Could it get better, we asked?

  3. Tito … oh yea, big improvement : )
    Jeepers, I had to “lease” this unit, with a dot matrix printer and custom software.

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