Some family history of IBM PC

The public history of the PC began in August 1981, when IBM first announced "The IBM Personal Computer," what we all know as the original PC. The behind-the-scenes story began earlier, of course, but not as long before as one might guess. From the decision to try to make an IBM Personal Computer to the day of announcement took, we're told, just about a year-a remarkably short time for so large and so deliberately-acting an institution as IBM. What is of real interest and use to us is a brief history of how each model of PC appeared, so that we can better understand how the PC family came to be, and where
it is headed.

The history outlined here is necessarily incomplete, because there are many details that I don't have space to relate and because the history of the PC family continues to unfold even as I'm writing this. But here is the main story.
The IBM PC made its first appearance in the fall of 1981. By spring of 1982, PCs were being shipped in volume, but to everyone's amazement demand far exceeded the supply. The PC was clearly "an overnight success." While this success may have caught IBM and the rest of the computer industry off guard, everyone quickly woke up to the possibilities that
this created.
During the earliest days of the PC, a number of experienced computer executives and engineers realized that there was a real need for a version of
the PC that could be carried around-that idea turned into Compaq Computer Corporation. Their first addition to the PC family (the first addition by IBM or anyone else) was the computer known as the Compaq. The
Compaq was announced in the fall of 1982, just over a year after the original PC was announced.
The following spring, in 1983, saw IBM's first addition to the PC family-the XT model, which added a high-capacity hard disk storage facility to the PC. Compaq matched the XT with a portable version in the fall of 1983 called the Compaq Plus.
In 1983 word began leaking out that IBM was planning a
less-expensive scaled-down version of the PC that could be used as a home computer or just a more economical model of PC for business and professional use. This machine was the PCjr, widely known as "the Peanut."
Nearly everyone expected the PCjr to be an even bigger hit than the
original PC, but when it first appeared at the end of 1983, it was an enormous disappointment. The PCjr was doomed to a short life, thanks to a hard-to-use keyboard, seemingly limited expandability, and other problems-such as interference between the keyboard and diskette drive
that made the jr annoying to use--combined with less-than-expected interest in home computers in the jr's price range. Throughout 1984 the jr limped along, despite several heroic attempts on IBM's part to make it a success. In 1985 the jr was discreetly allowed to die, awaiting IBM's
revised plans for the low end of the PC family.
But if 1984 was a year of disappointment for the low-end PCjr, it was an exciting year for the high end of the PC family. The summer of 1984
saw two high-powered models of PC appear. First there was Compaq DeskPro, the first member of the PC family to have more basic computing power
than the original Pc. Shortly after that, IBM introduced the AT model, which had a much greater computing speed than the PC and XT or even the new DeskPro.
All during this time, IBM was adjusting to the remarkable success of the PC family and the growing importance of personal computing. This led to a gradual and subtle change of philosophy in IBM's management of the
PC family, which I call "mainstreaming." This is a tendency to change the focus of the PC family away from isolated and individual personal computing into a more institutionalized approach that fit the PC family better into the central parts of IBM's computing business. This marked the end of some of the wild-and-woolly days of the PC, and passed into an era of somewhat less personal personal computing.