Following the introduction of the IBM Personal Computer, or IBM PC, manyother personal computerarchitectures became extinct within just a few years.
Before the IBM PC’s introduction Before the IBM PC was introduced, thepersonal computer market was dominated by systems using the 6502 and Z808-bit microprocessors, such as the TRS 80, Commodore PET and Apple II series, which used proprietary operating systems, and by computers running CP/M.After IBM introduced the IBM PC, it was not until 1984 that IBM PC and clonesbecame the dominant computers.
More than 50 new business-oriented personal computer systems came on themarket in the year before IBM released the IBM PC. Very few of them used a16- or 32-bit microprocessor, as 8-bit systems were generally believed by thevendors to be perfectly adequate, and the Intel 8086 was too expensive to use.
Although already established rivals like Apple and Radio Shack had manyadvantages over the company new to microcomputers, IBM’s reputation inbusiness computing allowed the IBM PC architecture to take a substantialmarket share of business applications, and many small companies that soldIBM-compatible software or hardware rapidly grew in size and importance, including Tecmar, Quadram, AST Research, and Microsoft.
Even a few years after the IBM PC’s introduction, manufacturers such as Digital, HP, Sanyo, Tandy, Texas Instruments, Tulip Computers, NEC, WangLaboratories, and Xerox continued to introduce personal computers that werebarely, if at all, compatible with the IBM PC, even though they used x86processors and ran MS-DOS. They used MS-DOS the way Microsoft hadoriginally envisioned: In the same way as 8-bits systems used CP/M. Theyimplemented standard ROM BIOS routines to achieve hardware independenceas had 8080 compatibles.
Many notable software packages, such as the spreadsheet program Lotus 1-2-3, and Microsoft’s Microsoft Flight Simulator 1.0, directly accessed the IBM PC’shardware, bypassing the BIOS, and therefore did not work on computers thatwere even trivially different from the IBM PC. This was especially commonamong games.
The first question is, “Is it PC compatible?” - Creative Computing, November1984 In February 1984 BYTE described how “The personal computer marketseems to be shadowed under a cloud of compatibility: the drive to becompatible with the IBM Personal Computer family has assumed near-fetishproportions”, which it stated was “Inevitable in the light of the phenomenalmarket acceptance of the IBM PC”. The magazine cited the announcement byNorth Star in fall 1983 of its first PC-compatible microcomputer.
Four years after Tandy’s Jon Shirley predicted to InfoWorld that the new IBMPC’s “Major market would be IBM addicts”, the magazine in 1985 similarlycalled the IBM compatibility of the Tandy 1000 “No small concession to BigBlue’s dominating stranglehold” by a company that had been “Struggling openlyin the blood-soaked arena of personal computers”.
IBM’s mainframe rivals, the BUNCH, introduced their own compatibles, andwhen Hewlett-Packard introduced the Vectra InfoWorld stated that the companywas “Responding to demands from its customers for full IBM PC compatibility”.
“Compatibility has proven to be the only safe path”, Microsoft executive JimHarris stated in 1985, while InfoWorld wrote that IBM’s competitors were”Whipped into conformity” with its designs, because of “The total failure ofevery company that tried to improve on the IBM PC”. Customers only wanted torun PC applications like 1-2-3, and developers only cared about the massive PCinstalled base, so any non-compatible-no matter its technical superiority-from acompany other than Apple failed for lack of customers and software.
IBM’s influence on the industry decreased, as competition increased and rivalsintroduced computers that improved on IBM’s designs while maintainingcompatibility.
Modern Macintosh computers are essentially IBM PC compatibles, capable ofbooting Microsoft Windows and running most IBM PC-compatible software, butstill retain unique design elements that support Apple’s Mac OS X operatingsystem.
Systems launched shortly after the IBM PC Shortly after the IBM PC wasreleased, an obvious split appeared between systems that opted to use an x86-compatible processor, and those that chose another architecture.
As the non-x86 architectures died off, and x86 systems standardized into fullyIBM PC compatible clones, a market filled with dozens of different competingsystems was reduced to a near-monoculture of x86-based, IBM PC compatible, MS-DOS systems.
X86-based systems Early after the launch of the IBM PC in 1981, therewere still dozens of systems that were not IBM PC-compatible, but did use Intelx86 chips.