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This Day In Market History: IBM Launches First PC

This Day In Market History: IBM Launches First PC

Each day, Benzinga takes a look back at a notable market-related moment that occurred on this date.

What Happened?

On this day 38 years ago, IBM (NYSE: IBM) launched its IBM Personal Computer.

Where The Market Was

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 945.21 and the S&P 500 traded at 133.40. Today, The Dow is trading at 24,998.55 and the S&P 500 is at 2,890.76.

What Else Was Going On In The World?

In 1981, Prince Charles of Wales married Lady Diana Spencer. NASA launched its very first Space Shuttle mission. U.S. interest rates were 15.7%.


In 1981, IBM had the dominant market share of the mainframe computer market, but it was losing business to Apple, Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) and other competitors producing microcomputers.

After just 12 months of development under the code name "Chess," IBM released the Personal Computer in August 1981 at a starting price of $1,565 for the base model with 16K RAM, a color graphics adapter and no disc drive.

The IBM PC was certainly pricey based on today’s tech standards, but it was also a steep discount to the $2-million computers IBM was producing in the early 1960s.

IBM also broke the mold by publishing the PC’s technical specifications for the first time, which allowed third parties to develop compatible products for the device. The IBM PC was powered by an Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC) 8088 microprocessor with 40K of read-only memory and 16K of user memory. IBM began selling its own PC software starting in 1984.

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Photo by Rama & Musée Bolo via Wikimedia

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