CHICAGO (AP) — William C. Lowe had a bold idea: IBM should develop a personal computer that could be mass-marketed, expanding the company’s reach beyond businesses and into people’s homes.
That was in 1980. One year later, the IBM 5150 personal computer was selling out at stores such as Sears and ComputerLand for $1,565, not including a monitor.
Lowe, who was credited with fostering collaboration within the computer industry and led the team that developed IBM’s PC, died on Oct. 19 in Lake Forest, Ill., of a heart attack, his daughter Michelle Marshall said. He was 72.
“I’m so incredibly proud of him ... he’s touched everything,” Marshall said. “If he hadn’t taken a risk and had the chutzpah he did to make it happen, it could have taken so many more years before everyone had a computer on their desktop.”
Other companies were making PCs as early as the 1970s, but IBM was behind the curve. Lowe was lab director at IBM’s Boca Raton, Fla., facilities when he convinced his bosses he could assemble a team to build a personal computer in a year.
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, which was not widely known at the time, according to IBM’s website.
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