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Andrew T.
October 12th, 2013, 05:27 PM
Something I've been curious about: What was the first "normal" IBM-compatible computer system? Of course "normal" is arbitrary and can mean a lot of things, but these are the pointers I'm bearing towards:

* It was 100% IBM-compatible. (That eliminates many of the early 808x/8018x DOS systems.)
* It used a legal BIOS. (That eliminates the Columbia and Eagle computers.)
* It was a desktop computer, not a portable. (That eliminates the first Compaq.)
* Its motherboard, case, and power supply used the same form factors as a genuine PC, XT, or AT system. (That may eliminate the first Compaq Deskpro and Leading Edge Model M, since they had front-mounted keyboard plugs.)

What was the first non-IBM system that satisfied all of these?

tipc
October 21st, 2013, 09:37 PM
No name taiwanese clone. What else?

PC Limited/Dell did all that, but remember he started assembling Taiwanese components in his dorm room. Not the first.

You'd have to scan very early copies of PC Magazine, Computer Shopper, infoworld (there was another tabloid also), and Byte to get your answer. Let us know.

alecv
October 22nd, 2013, 01:46 AM
Most of Taiwanese BIOSes were illegal. See this discussion about ERSO (later TDK) BIOSes:
http://www.vintage-computer.com/vcforum/showthread.php?28741-8086-8088-BIOS-Manufacturers

vwestlife
October 22nd, 2013, 04:58 AM
Most of the early PC compatibles tried to improve upon IBM's design, not just copy it. The Tandy 1200HD, introduced in 1985, was probably the first mass-produced IBM clone that tried to be as close to the original as possible. The generic Taiwanese clones didn't arrive until around 1987, IIRC.

http://retro-ads.net/d/1081-8/1985_Tandy1200HD.jpg

PeterNC
October 22nd, 2013, 05:25 AM
Cool ad! :)

Andrew T.
October 22nd, 2013, 06:43 AM
Thanks for the replies. The Tandy 1200HD looks quite interesting! That said, the power supply was slightly different from IBM's, and the form factor allowed for only seven expansion cards instead of eight. Perhaps a 1200HD motherboard would fit in an XT case, but not the other way around?

Shadow Lord
October 22nd, 2013, 08:20 AM
$4395 for an XT huh? Jeebus! I am trying to remember when computers became dirt cheap and I think it was around the turn of the millennium. I know I paid over $2K for my non-brand generic 486-33 with 4MB of RAM in 1992! But when I built my next system (around when the Pentium 233MMX chips was released) it had already gotten significantly cheaper....

krebizfan
October 22nd, 2013, 10:48 AM
I think that in late 80s the classic price points became clear. An XT clone would start at slightly under $500, a good quality AT clone would be about $1000, and then there would be more expensive systems up to whatever excesses the market might be able to bear. You still have PCs marketed at much the same tiers. Sure, there have been much cheaper systems but they have been not very successful; witness the approximately $100 offerings for Timex-Sinclair or Netbooks or the recent run of Android Tablets sold at drugstores.

SomeGuy
October 22nd, 2013, 11:25 AM
Remember that early on, businesses were buying these to automate computational or information related tasks that previously people did manually. Even at those prices, they would often more than pay for themselves in saved time and money.

I don't know about Radio Shack machines (I think they just overpriced stuff :p ), but with some like IBM you were sometimes buying more than just a white box full of chips. You actually got service and support with it. If you had a problem you could call an actual human and get a response besides "we are not being supporting that".

dorkbert
October 22nd, 2013, 12:05 PM
the olden days when the 2k rule was in force...
today a very functional system can be had for under 5 bills, and we're not even taking inflation into account.
my first 386-40 with mono (hercules compatible) video and 4MB/100MB HD ran me 1200 bucks.

Al Hartman
October 22nd, 2013, 12:29 PM
In the early 1980's I worked for a Company in Brooklyn that sold IBM XT Clones by a company called American PC as well as no-name Taiwanese clones. We used various compatible BIOes from Taiwan, but these boards would accept a full set of IBM BIOS ROMs for 100% compatibility. Other than the label on the front of the case which was wider and a kind of grey/green and said "American PC" in silver lettering, the case was identical to a PC case.

I had one of the generic clones in a case that had the flip-top hood. I'm sorry I ever traded it away. It had a Turbo-XT motherboard, 8mhz, V-20, 640k on board, a 2400 baud modem, 2 13mb Hard Drives, 2 360k Floppy Drives, CGA Adapter, and multi I/O card with a clock. I still have the keyboard from that system.

k2x4b524[
October 22nd, 2013, 12:33 PM
13mb hard drives?! Kinda of odd ball wasn't it? Or was that bad-boy sportin 10mb rll drives?

Chuck(G)
October 22nd, 2013, 01:48 PM
I suspect that the clone invasion was probably closer to 1984-85 than 87. By 87, I already had about4-5 of those things. Checking some chip dates on motherboards might yield some data.

Chuck(G)
October 22nd, 2013, 01:57 PM
13mb hard drives?! Kinda of odd ball wasn't it? Or was that bad-boy sportin 10mb rll drives?

CMI 5616 for example? In the bad old days, when people were calculating dollars-per-megabyte, offering 13 megabytes for the same price as a competitor's 10 was a big selling point.

njroadfan
October 22nd, 2013, 01:58 PM
The Leading Edge Model M came out in 1983. Looking at period magazines, it was the first Japanese built PC clone on the market. The clone market was on fire by 1984 based on what my old boss told me over the years. Imagine a warehouse filled with Leading Edge Model Ds and still not having enough stock to meet demand!

Shadow Lord
October 22nd, 2013, 02:08 PM
I am sure the "Attack of the Clones" started in mid 1980s but I am talking about when computers became cheap disposable items! My original XT was in service at our house until 1992 when I got the 486 and the 486 was in service until 1998 mostly because we needed a second computer not because we needed an upgrade. Now a days life span of a high end system seems to be under 2 years. A cheap $500 system is practically considered disposable!

vwestlife
October 22nd, 2013, 02:12 PM
I am sure the "Attack of the Clones" started in mid 1980s but I am talking about when computers became cheap disposable items!

1981.

http://i154.photobucket.com/albums/s262/pf0604/ZX81-doorstop.jpg

Shadow Lord
October 22nd, 2013, 02:39 PM
1981.


I disagree, that does NOT look like a circa 1981 Door! The ZX1 is holding a turn of the 21st century door! ;)

njroadfan
October 22nd, 2013, 02:39 PM
Now a days life span of a high end system seems to be under 2 years. A cheap $500 system is practically considered disposable!

A "high end system" is actually lasting much longer these days, try 5-6 years!

Shadow Lord
October 22nd, 2013, 02:49 PM
A "high end system" is actually lasting much longer these days, try 5-6 years!

No it is not. At least not in the home market. If you bought a high end system to play the latest games and run the latest SW you will be out paced in 2 max 3 years. Take a look at CPU and GPUs today vs. three years ago. Now I am not saying the system is unusable but it will be several generations old. Where as in the 486 days in 4 years time you were only two minor generations behind (i.e. just the speed bumps) not new architecture and/or features.

Mike Chambers
October 22nd, 2013, 02:54 PM
No it is not. At least not in the home market. If you bought a high end system to play the latest games and run the latest SW you will be out paced in 2 max 3 years. Take a look at CPU and GPUs today vs. three years ago. Now I am not saying the system is unusable but it will be several generations old. Where as in the 486 days in 4 years time you were only two minor generations behind (i.e. just the speed bumps) not new architecture and/or features.

No, you really only need to upgrade the GPU if you want top of the line gaming experiences. CPUs are so fast these days that games just don't push them. A good 5 year old CPU will run a new game with no problems at all. Power to spare. The graphics hardware is what's important. Although even an old Geforce 9800 GT will still run games smoothly now as long as you don't need super high resolutions.

vwestlife
October 22nd, 2013, 03:49 PM
My newest computer is a 2007 MacBook. I'm not a gamer so I don't need cutting-edge 3D graphics, but it is at least good enough to edit and play back 1920x1080 HD video.

And besides, we're getting to the point where many consumers use an iPad or other tablet as their main computing device -- so we've come full-circle, where traditional desktop computers are prevalent in business, education, and other institutional environments, but aren't really necessary in the home, just like it was in the '80s.

Mike Chambers
October 23rd, 2013, 09:11 AM
My newest computer is a 2007 MacBook. I'm not a gamer so I don't need cutting-edge 3D graphics, but it is at least good enough to edit and play back 1920x1080 HD video.

And besides, we're getting to the point where many consumers use an iPad or other tablet as their main computing device -- so we've come full-circle, where traditional desktop computers are prevalent in business, education, and other institutional environments, but aren't really necessary in the home, just like it was in the '80s.

I personally don't see many people who use a tablet at all, or at least not as a main computer... but maybe it's just where I live. What I see happening usually is a trend towards laptops and ultrabooks replacing the desktop. People I know say tablets are too expensive and impractical. I also used to see a lot of netbooks, but I guess everybody realized that they're too slow to do anything useful. :) I still find some uses for my EeePC though. It's a good little lightweight web browser machine, but doing anything serious on it is impossible or at least a huge PITA.

krebizfan
October 23rd, 2013, 11:35 AM
I personally don't see many people who use a tablet at all, or at least not as a main computer... but maybe it's just where I live. What I see happening usually is a trend towards laptops and ultrabooks replacing the desktop. People I know say tablets are too expensive and impractical. I also used to see a lot of netbooks, but I guess everybody realized that they're too slow to do anything useful. :) I still find some uses for my EeePC though. It's a good little lightweight web browser machine, but doing anything serious on it is impossible or at least a huge PITA.

I go to meetings were most of the attendees have tablets with only prospective presenters having laptops. How much of that is a preference for tablet design versus not wanting to have a system that runs Visual Studio and being pushed to code around the clock I can't tell.

Mad-Mike
October 23rd, 2013, 11:44 AM
I think usage of tablets is regional, Seattle is a melting pot. I have friends with a desktop, a laptop, a tablet, a surface pro, and a smartphone, then I have some that just use Laptops for everything. I have a few Mac fans in the family with MacBook Pros that are 5 years old, and we've got computers in the family still in active use that are over 8-10 years old.

My newest desktop machine is a Pentium D 3.40GHz machine I built in 2008. The only thing I've had to do was bump the memory up to 4GB, put in a Terabyte HDD for my music/video production hobby, and upgrade to Windows 7 x64. My wife has a 10 year old Dell running XP and we use that thing every day for Netflix and Xfinity and Youtube. Heck, my old 486 still sees plenty of action online via IRC and light web browsing, E-mail, and other chat, + ROM Hacking and the occasional pixel-art thing I like to do. The mainstream has hit a wall of sorts where even 10 year ago tech is "good enough" to get the job done and something 3 years old still feels impressive. The only people I hear whine about power and speed are either computer illiterate, want to brag about their $3000.00 gaming P.C., or both.

As for tablets, they have a place, they fit the gap between the Laptop and the Cellular phone. Then you have odd stuff like the Surface Pro/Pro 2, HP 810 Revolve, and Dell XPS 12 that can fit the laptop/desktop/tablet boat all at once depending on how much you spend in accessories.