I was never an IBM guy. My first computer was a TRS-80. I'm not entirely sure how old I was; as far back as I can remember I've always had a computer. I do remember that the first TRS-80 I had possessed 16K of RAM, but had no storage. In order to store any code I had written (which was in BASIC btw), I used a cassette recorder. Yeah. I know. Nerd. But, seriously have you seen that picture of me on my website? Are you really surprised?
Nonetheless, I was always jealous of my friends who had IBM PC's. The 5150 was released on 12 August 1981 and ushered in a new era of computing. Originally intended as a stop-gap computer to allow IBM to really focus on a PC for the market, the 5150 was developed in less than a year under the direction of a team of twelve talented engineers. What IBM, or really anybody else, didn't anticipate was how that expedited development schedule would change the world. IBM, in an effort to get this thing out, allowed the engineers to work outside of the normal IBM process. In doing so, IBM allowed the development team to use off-the-shelf components, including Microsoft's new operating system MSDOS.
Why is that so important? Because by allowing Microsoft's DOS to run as the operating system and letting them license the OS to other hardware manufacturers while using standard components anyone could buy, IBM unwittingly opened up the PC cloning world. Remember when we use to build our own PCs? Well maybe you don't, but I do. Could you imagine building a laptop today? No way.
My point is because of a compressed development timeline and a few key decisions around what OS and parts to use, the next 20 years of computing were set down a path that the average consumer benefitted tremendously from.
Well everyone but Steve Jobs. Yeah he didn't like it so much.