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Thread: 1983 IBM PC New in the Box - should I try and recommission it?

  1. #1

    Default 1983 IBM PC New in the Box - should I try and recommission it?

    Hello all,

    I have an IMB PC (S/N_0574864, 5151, 1983) that is still in the original IBM shipping box. The PC is encased in its foam protection, but does not have the protective plastic bag sourrounding it. There is no keyboard or software inside. I very carefully removed the PC from the foam padding and examined the exterior. It has no marks, scratches or blemishes of any kind anywhere on its case or on the back panel. The five original screws at the back securing the case appear to have never been touched or turned since it came out of the factory. I did not open the case or apply power to the machine and returned it to its box. When I acquired it, I also received with it an Okidata printer and a 1983 12 inch Amdek monitor, both encased in their original styrofoam protectors. These two peripherals have never been unpacked and are obviously in new condition without any blemishes whatsoever. From the back the PC shows the parallel connector, the serial connector, the monitor connector and a 37 pin female connector.

    I am sufficiently experienced at upgrading and repairing PCs and have had hundreds of machines cross my bench over the years going back to before the release of the Apple II. I have also been an amateur radio operator for more than 50 years and have a full lab of electronic test equipment, mostly HP from the 70s and 80s that I use to build and repair amateur radio equipment. I have never seen anything like this before, however.

    My question is: Is this particular PC unique enough to leave as is and to not attempt to get running again as part of an antique PC system? Or, should I just open it up and begin to recommission it. I don't think it's ever been powered up since it left the factory. Quite a few years back, my petroleum service business had a number of these machines in operation after we moved up from Apple and CPM. I can provide close up photos if it will help.

    Thanks for your time and interest.

    Jim Sorenson
    Brookline, NH

    Amateur radio call: W3BH

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Dordrecht , Netherlands


    Of course a beautiful find.
    Think you mean the 5150 (5151 is the monochrome monitor for it)

    There are still lost of 5150 around still these day's, but a fresh one rare, as you can imagine.
    The ones on the market have al kinds of modifications and probably many times opened up, as mine lots of.
    Mostly converted with a hard drive extra RAM cards etc.
    From day one, sure in those day's, a PC was upgraded many times in its working period.
    However there are 5150 from home users that in fact bought it to only type a letter on it or so.
    So those are still in original order.

    As to my knowledge things are not as rare as it seems before the big internet market places.
    The stuff coming from basements, attics etc is still amazing.
    I am totally off the hook about "rare". you just have to find it.
    This 5150 has been sold all over the world.

    Ok it is very rare unpacked. But what to do with it, keep it packed an other 37 yrs?
    Just be careful with it. if a collector want it to store again 40+ yrs let it be.
    I'll would start using it, but keep it as it is as much as you can.

    If a museum starts to display it, it also becomes the first scratch soon. Also dust etc.
    Keep the box, but have fun with it, the machine are far of rare.

  3. #3


    Use it

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Marietta, GA


    Personally, I would be a little uncomfortable using something that looked brand new, since I tend to wear things out.

    I think it is a good idea to ask around and see if anyone needs it for more of a museum type use. Worn ones are not hard to find. Of course, if there are no takers, do whatever you want with it.

  5. #5




    Thanks very much for the thoughtful and informative reply. Yes, I did mean 5150. I guess it's pretty much like an old rare coin whose present value depends not only on the existing condition but on the total number of coins minted. On occasion, there will be found in the amateur radio world a boxed and sealed transmitter or receiver that has been recovered from storage after 50 or 60 years. Or, a kit from Heathkit that was never opened and is offered for sale as rare and unique. The potential buyer faces two problems: Buying something whose authenticity cannot be confirmed absolutely until he pays for it and looks inside the box and further; is he going to open the box at all after he purchases it - or will he just keep it boxed on the shelf for years so as not decrease its value. Some people just collect "pig in a poke" items and save them sealed that way just because that's their hobby and what they enjoy doing.

    Fortunately, the IBM box was not sealed, the PC did not come with all the original peripherals and it was free to me in the first place. I don't have to make any tough decisions. You are correct about what will happen to anything that ends up in a museum. I happen to have some experience in that area and stuff gets constantly shifted around. You can't prevent damage over time, period.

    So, I shall very very carefully open the machine and see if I can fire it up. Putting it back in commission with an original monitor, keyboard and software set would be a fun project. However, I will make every effort possible to maintain its pristine state over time. That won't be easy.

    Many thanks for information and helpful suggestions.


  6. #6



    Thanks. In this case, entropy will take its toll over time. Stuff breaks, wears down, comes to pieces. I would prefer doing all that myself rather than allowing it to happen in a museum. If it were truly truly rare, I'd donate it. But they must have made millions of these. I just had no idea if opening up a factory sealed IBM PC that was near forty years old would be committing a cardinal sin or not. In the antique world you never know until you ask, unless your're an expert in that area.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    SE MI
    Blog Entries


    I was faced with the same dilemma when I came by a Commodore 64 NIB. I had to power it up just once to satisfy my curiosity that it did, indeed, work (it did). It's been on the shelf ever since.
    Surely not everyone was Kung-fu fighting

  8. #8


    I have the same curiosity. If it does not power up, one might as well donate it somewhere if anyone wants it. If it does power up, save it for the grandkids, or use it very very carefully and emjoy it.


  9. #9


    Thanks for the replies I have received so far. I was going to post my replies them to the thread, but I posted a quick reply to each instead. I'm just learing how to use this forum. Some of the information in my replies might be useful to someone in the future who runs across the same situation. I'll put them all togther and post them to the group.

    Bottom line so far is that I will very very carefully open the case and try to recommission the PC.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    New Zealand
    Blog Entries


    Just be very careful not to scratch the casework, and maybe put it back in the box when done.
    I've never felt the need to refurbish an original IBM PC or PC XT before power up.

    I imagine it'll be one of:
    - works fine
    - works fine but you hear, smell, and see the results of a Rifa line cap sizzling in the back
    - does nothing, because one of the tants has shorted

    And if something catastrophic happened (which I have not seen TBH), then you still have a nice "looking at" computer anyway.

    I also have an IBM 5150 from around ~1982, that's had no repair work, so it's possible with low hours it may just work as is.


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