View Full Version : Happy birthday! IBM PCjr turns 30!

January 28th, 2014, 07:18 AM
The alternative title should be "duck Mike!". Mike Brutman and Alker (http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/14/01/28/1427238/ibms-pc-junior-turns-30-too) are famous today :-) May your sites be blessed with thousands of slashdotter views. (also an FYI if you're wondering about performance Mike).

Was there an official release date for the PCjr? I'm seeing references to "late January 1984" but nothing solid. Wish they would have pointed out Trixter and Phoenix's demo (IntroJr) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fs1oJOlPqMM) but I'm sure the educated crowd will find it. Pretty impressive demo. Love the music.

Did anyone do anything event wise? I'd be tempted to bring one to the office but not sure I have anything impressive or useful to display on it.

lmao.. I missed Jim's announcement of the Harlem Shakejr (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWlH01xwDsY)

January 28th, 2014, 07:47 AM
Oh man, I've lived long enough to finally be referenced on Slashdot! Thanks for the heads up!

Google Analytics normally shows 0 or 1 people browsing the site at a time. As of a minute ago that was 68 ... it will be a modest spike.

I was preparing an mTCP HTTPServer for the occasion, which was actually back in November when the PCjr was announced. I'm still working on it and I'm really happy that I did not move the site temporarily over to a real PCjr. (I was going to do that for testing and giggles.)

Great Hierophant
January 28th, 2014, 02:06 PM
How exactly do you determine the birth of the PCjr? (Or any other computer) When IBM decided to make it, when a fully-functional prototype was completed, when the design had been finalized, when the first production units rolled off the assembly line, when it was announced to the general public, when IBM started taking orders for it or when the public actually got the machine in its hands? I think the last is what the slashdot article is referring to, because if I recall correctly, customers could order the machine from IBM in November 1983 with the understanding that they would not be shipped immediately. I don't think that the family would have been able to find the PCjr. box under the 1983 Christmas Tree, unless perhaps a family member worked for IBM.

January 28th, 2014, 02:23 PM
Within IBM we generally considered the GA (general availability) date to be the significant date. So when IBM tells the world "here it is and here is how to buy it", that it's the date.

It was announced November 1st 1983. I think that it's the date to use. Anything else is speculation.

Great Hierophant
January 28th, 2014, 02:34 PM
Just as August 12, 1981 is the general availability date for the IBM PC and when its anniversary was celebrated.

January 28th, 2014, 03:51 PM
That was my problem also with the speculation but I thought it implied it wasn't out in the market until January 1984, despite the announcement in November. But I'm not any sort of specialist, I just googled around hoping to find an article.

January 28th, 2014, 09:04 PM
Everyone forgets about the IBM 5155 Portable PC, which was introduced at the same time as the PCjr and lived a similarly short and unsuccessful product life. IBM was a latecomer to the portable computing market and thought they could beat Compaq just because they were IBM and had a (mostly) equally good product. What they learned was that just being Big Blue wasn't enough anymore. And they learned it again when Tandy became the #1 selling PC brand in the USA by making glorified PCjr clones. :)

January 28th, 2014, 09:14 PM
Part of the problem with the PCjr was the manufacturing process. It was announced November 1st, 1983 but hard to find until the following spring. The little beast was emitting too much RF and was having a hard time getting certified.

There is a wonderful story about the attempts to limit the RF. The first attempts used a silver impregnated paint that cost *thousands* of dollars a gallon. That was sprayed on the inside of the plastic case and it worked, but the overspray from the paint was extremely expensive. IBM eventually figured out how to spray the paint better, and then moved to something cheaper, but those first machines were rare because of the glitches.

It is not that the PCjr was a horrible machine. The XT was released in 1983, the AT was in development, and the PCjr team was fighting for resources. You can imagine that at a company that calls itself "International Business Machines" that the home computer was given the lowest priority for resources and staffing. Which explains a lot of the goofiness in the machine.

January 29th, 2014, 06:14 AM
Within IBM we generally considered the GA (general availability) date to be the significant date. So when IBM tells the world "here it is and here is how to buy it", that it's the date.
As someone who had to attend that those interminable (Product) Ready For Announcement meetings for the UK, the most significant date was always Announcement. GA varied widely, depending on the product, but Announcement was the stake in the ground around which all else revolved.

In EMEA we did look at announcing jr. but it never happened due to some very sensible decisions, in my opinion, by Product Management. The jr's were scrapped but the low-end monitors ("Popeye") were reworked at Greenock (by changing the dedicated jr. cable for a regular PC type) and sold.

January 29th, 2014, 07:23 AM
My bad - in my hurry I blurred the two terms.

Announcement (Nov 1 1983 in this case) is when IBM formally announces the product. GA (General Availability) is often on the same date, but can be delayed a few weeks/months.)


January 29th, 2014, 09:26 AM
I hadn't experienced the PCjr until it was in the vintage/obsolete era (late 90s? maybe early 2000s) and I'm not sure how it was received but I definitely thought the IR keyboard was pretty slick. 1983 wireless keyboard. I don't think I have any other systems that do that to this day (other than some handhelds). Now the reality set in fairly quickly when I hooked up the computer across the room and sat on my bed squinting and trying to write code from 12 feet away realizing "...I can't read this font size from here..". I'm not sure if it was some executive which hated having to figure out what to do with the chord to their keyboard (sounds like some infomercial concept) or perhaps those curly chords weren't common yet? (seems like they were in my memory though). Anyway gimmick or not that's impressive when you show it to people and flip it over to show them the date.

January 30th, 2014, 06:48 PM
Just for giggles, here is the hourly traffic graph for the last month from brutman.com:


In the first hour of the Slashdot posting the site took 200x more hits per hour than usual. In absolute terms it was not a crushing amount of load, but it was far higher than usual.

Next time, I'll have the HTTP server running on a PCjr and I'll be ready. Make that a Beowulf cluster of PCjrs ...