Can you do real work with the 30-year-old IBM 5150?

Our intrepid reporter spends a week trying to write, browse the Web, edit photos, and even tweet on IBM's first PC.

By Benj Edwards, PC World |  Hardware, I'll try it, IBM

Having conquered email, I next focused on Twitter. Could I tweet from an IBM 5150? The answer was yes, thanks to a console Twitter client for Linux that I had installed on my ISP machine called Twidge. I typed up the following command: "./twidge update "I'm tweeting this from an IBM PC 5150. 8088, 640K, CGA."

And lo, Twidge sent it out across the Twitterverse. Unfortunately, no one noticed. After checking out a few tweets from Alyssa Milano, I moved on.

Theoretically, the PC-as-terminal-emulator should have had no problem with Web browsing in text. For a browser, I chose Lynx, a text-based program commonly found lurking near Unix-like operating systems. In this case, I ran Lynx on my ISP machine. All seemed well at first--but then I called up a website. The PC had some trouble displaying a few terminal formatting codes properly (likely the result of a terminal type error on the Linux end), resulting in asterisks sprinkled liberally throughout the websites I viewed. Pretty stars.

In total, I visited two sites: Google and PCWorld.com.

Both looked suitably messed up because neither site had been designed with text in mind. Nonetheless, I had proved that it was possible--in that chopping-down-a-tree-with-a-bat kind of way--to extract information from the Web on a 5150.

Next page: Getting down to business with word processing

Writing for the Man

Twiddling around with the Internet is all fine and dandy. But when it comes to work, the real meat-and-bones stuff involves writing (for me, at least). And when I think "word processor software," Microsoft Word usually springs to mind. It seemed a good choice at first, but the earliest Word for DOS version (3.3) that I could find would not fit on a 360KB diskette and still function. Scratch that.

Second to come to mind was Microsoft Works, a word processor (and office suite) that I actually used in the DOS days myself. The earliest version of Works that I owned sported an executable file size of 372KB, which would not fit on a 360KB floppy either. What was I to do?


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
Join us:
Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Tumblr

LinkedIn

Google+

Answers - Powered by ITworld

ITworld Answers helps you solve problems and share expertise. Ask a question or take a crack at answering the new questions below.

Join us:
Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Tumblr

LinkedIn

Google+

Ask a Question
randomness