IBM PC 5150 with no drives?

From: Fred Cisin <>
Date: Sun Mar 14 11:27:59 1999

The original IBM PC (5150) had 16K of memory (NOT 4k - THAT was the TRS-80
:-), expandable by populating sockets to 64K. Case, power supply,
motherboard with "Cassette BASIC" in ROM, and keyboard. It sold for about
$1320. Without video, without disk controller, without drives, without
serial, without parallel.

It wasn't usable without adding video. Although I did know one person who
hooked up a votrax, and never used her video other than to have a friend
load software in from cassette to "boot".

There was a built in cassette interface. IBM never sold the cable for
it, but the pinout matched the TRS-80, so the RS 26-???? cable worked.

Most people opted for "complete systems", which added $400 _at_ for Tandon
TM100-1 single sided full height drives, ~$300 for disk controller, ~$300
for video card, ~$600 for monitor, and a few hundred dollars for each row
of 16K memory.

In addition to portability, that meant that Compaq could claim to provide
enormous cost savings, by selling their machine for "LESS THAN $3000".

But among those rare few of the populace who understood how to use a
screwdriver, the cheapest route to a PC was the $1320 base machine, plus
disk controller, and CGA video card. Then go aftermarket (mostly TRS-80
suppliers) for drives at less than $200 _at_, cheap memory, and a composite
"closed circuit TV" monitor.

Within another year or two, aftermarket accessory boards became
available, and eventually clones and clone motherboards.

IBM's braindead decision to have 5 (instead of 8) expansion slots meant
that aftermarket "multifunction" cards became quite popular. MANY of
them advertised SIX functions; after memory, serial, parallel, and
joystick, how many people remember what purported to be the other two

But the original $1320 5150 was devoid of drives and cards. ** FS
(after I back off all of the mods and put the original pieces back in) **

Fred Cisin            
2210 Sixth St.                  (510) 644-9366
Berkeley, CA 94710-2219
Received on Sun Mar 14 1999 - 11:27:59 GMT

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