PDA

View Full Version : IBM Portable 5155 compared to iPad Retina



Gib
July 1st, 2012, 01:11 PM
Just for the fun of it, I posted an article online comparing my vintage IBM Portable, model 5155, to Apple's latest iPad model, the Retina. (The blog post is here: http://www.truthalyzer.com/?p=3454)

Here's the text without photos:

Sometimes you have to go backward to progress

I was tempted to buy a 2012 Apple Retina iPad, for $500. Instead, I bought a 1984 IBM Portable, for $80. I am typing this blog post on the portable, which should really be called a luggable, since it weighs 30 pounds, compared to the iPad's 1.44 pounds. IBM has long since gotten out of the personal computer business, and Central Point, the company that made the word processing program I'm using, is long-defunct. The hardware still works fine. I love the solid feel of its clickety clackety keyboard and the warm glow of its 9 inch amber CRT screen. And although the ancient software doesn't have any where near the multiplicity of features of more sophisticated contemporary word processing programs, it has all the features I actually need -- word wrap, tabs, cut-copy-paste, spellcheck, find-replace, and autosave.

The IBM's monochrome monitor is uncluttered, displaying up to 25 lines of 80 orange characters well-defined against a black background. The iPad's 9.7 inch LED displays an amazing 3.14 million colorful pixels, but that's overkill for typing a blog post, if you can call tapping on the iPad's virtual keyboard typing. And that keyboard takes up so much space on the screen that only half as much text is visible, compared to the old IBM. This is progress?

IBM provided 256KB of memory on the portable's motherboard, and a previous owner thoughtfully added another 256KB on a card, for a total of 512KB. Half a megabyte may not seem like much memory, but it's plenty enough to hold the operating system, word processing program, and blog post, the latter of which is saved to a 360KB floppy diskette. The least expensive iPad comes with 16GB of memory/storage. If I had bought that one and later decided to add memory, I'd be out of luck, because it's not upgradable. In fact, it's not even repairable. I could (but I never would) replace the motherboard on the old portable and install an i7 CPU, 16GB of memory, 3TB of storage, and a graphics card hooked up to a retina-like display. But the iPad, a slab of glued and soldered layers of components, is what it is, until something fails. Then it's garbage.

Of course, I need a modern computer to get on the internet, login to truthalyzer.com, and add my post and photos, and you need one to visit the site, which looks great on the iPad's razor-sharp display. And there are a lot of uses for computers for which every successive generation of progress in computer hardware and software technology is highly anticipated and gratefully utilized. But when it comes to composing for a blog, or a homework assignment, or a presidential address, has the latest incarnation of Microsoft Word really improved our ability to get our thoughts on the page (or the screen, or the teleprompter)? I think the megapixels of colorful ribbons and icons and buttons and menus and features and options filling up screens exemplify the illusion of progress. In reality, they just complicate things. Perhaps you have noticed, as I have, the proliferation of alternative word processors in recent years -- minimalist, unobtrusive -- like WriteMonkey, OmmWriter Dana, WriteRoom, and iA Writer. More and more writers, frustrated by the increasing complexity and distractions of word processing technology, are turning away, going back to the basics.

Not many have gone as far back to basics as I have, on my circa 1980's hardware and software, but perhaps they're not as committed to recycling as I am.

WMH
July 1st, 2012, 05:56 PM
Interesting post, thanks for sharing!

I'd love to have a 5155 if I had the space.

ibmapc
July 1st, 2012, 06:05 PM
I love my 5155. I'll never get rid of it. I've owned it since new when my Dad bought it with his IBM employee discount in 1985. I have had many computers since, but none were as well made. The only problem I have with your post is that you compare an IBM product with an Apple. Everyone knows that IBM is the clear choice for sturdy machines! At least with the first gen IBM PC's.

I am a PC!

Ole Juul
July 1st, 2012, 06:10 PM
I'd love to have a 5155 if I had the space.

Well the 5155 is small and easy to put away. It's actually a good way to have an XT without having to use much space, either when set up or stored.


if you can call tapping on the iPad's virtual keyboard typing

If you have to look at your fingers it's not typing - at least not in any practical sense of the word. I can't imagine being forced to look at my mouth in a mirror in order to talk. ;) I'm with you. Drop the primitive technology and use the appropriate tool - in this case a 5155.

WMH
July 2nd, 2012, 01:32 PM
Well the 5155 is small and easy to put away. It's actually a good way to have an XT without having to use much space, either when set up or stored.
Really?

I'll have to look into it, then. :)

jrdurgan
July 21st, 2012, 05:43 AM
I bought my 5155 in 1985 to replace a Kaypro when I was in Graduate School. I still have both and still use them. I run Lotus 123, and word perfect 4.2. I still enjoy doing some basic programming. Like the rest of you I sue a modern computer for internet and other highly graphics oriented applications. I decided to join this forum in case I ran into any technical problems with either machine.

DOS lives on!!
July 21st, 2012, 10:02 AM
Welcome to the forums! This is certainly the place to come.

bettablue
August 24th, 2012, 06:19 PM
I love my 5155. I'll never get rid of it.

I'm going to be in the market for a Compaq portable again quite soon. And yes, I do have the room for it. Woo-Hoo! Neat little article.

Ole Juul
August 24th, 2012, 11:31 PM
I was tempted to buy a 2012 Apple Retina iPad, for $500. Instead, I bought a 1984 IBM Portable, for $80. I am typing this blog post on the portable, which should really be called a luggable, since it weighs 30 pounds, compared to the iPad's 1.44 pounds.

IBM - 30lb for $80 = $2.67 per pound
IPad - 1.44lb for $500 = $347.00 per pound

Sounds like you got a good deal.