RIP W.C. Lowe – father of the IBM PC

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RIP W.C. Lowe – father of the IBM PC

by Hannah Jackson
November 1, 2013

There are so many historical figures worthy of favour in the history of I.T. – Babbage, Alan Turing, Steve Jobs, Gordon Moore, Bill Gates, Tim Berners-Lee. I say historical, but I.T. hasn’t been around for that long!

So lets say farewell and rest in peace, to an unsung visionary – the man behind IBM’s first ever Personal Computer, the man behind the thing most of us sit in front of day after day, William Lowe, who has died at the age of 72.

Lowe had a bold idea in 1980 – that IBM should develop a personal computer that could be mass marketed, expanding the company’s reach beyond businesses and into people’s homes.
One year later, the IBM 5150 personal computer was selling out at stores for $1,565, not including a monitor.

Lowe and his team were able to develop the IBM PC so quickly by adopting open architecture — using parts and software from outside vendors, including Microsoft, according to IBM’s website.

Its hard to imagine a world without the PC, and whilst times are changing and tablets are de rigueur, the bulk of computing still remains on the descendants of that IBM PC (clone) created by Mr Lowe. Mac is in the ascendence at the moment, but the mainstream networked computing of the 80’s, 90’s and beyond simply would not have happenend without a ‘personal computer’ on every desktop.

Imagine a world without email, the world wide web, office applications, the things we take for granted every day, even facebook – without the spark of an affordable computing platform in the office, and then in the home, these would not have happened.

So personally I say thanks Mr Lowe – If it had not been you, it would probably happened anyway, but it was you. And you changed the face of the world.

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