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IBM's PC Junior Turns 30, Too

timothy posted about 8 months ago | from the which-path-did-you-follow? dept.

IBM 178

McGruber writes "Like the Mac, the IBM PC Junior first went on sale in late January 1984. That is where the similarities end — the PC Junior became the biggest PC dud of all time. Back on May 17, 1984, the NY Times reported that the PC Junior 'is too expensive for casual home users, but, at the same time, is not nearly powerful enough for serious computer users who can afford a more capable machine.' The article also quoted Peter Norton, then still a human programmer who had not yet morphed into a Brand, who said that the PC Junior 'may well be targeted at a gray area in the market that just does not exist.'' IBM cancelled the machine in March 1985, after only selling 270,000 of them. While it was a commercial flop, the machine is still liked by some. Michael Brutman's PCJr page attempts to preserve the history and technical information of the IBM PCjr and YouTube has a video of a PC Junior running a demo."

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...end? (3, Funny)

QilessQi (2044624) | about 8 months ago | (#46090681)

That is where the similarities —

Also the sentence. :-)

Re:...end? (4, Funny)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about 8 months ago | (#46090703)

Yeah, Dice apparently accidentally the whole editorial staff.

Re:...end? (2)

Dan East (318230) | about 8 months ago | (#46090717)

"editor" and "button clicker who approves a story" are not the same thing, nor have they ever been at Slashdot.

Re:...end? (4, Funny)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about 8 months ago | (#46090811)

Oh come on, the editors obviously add a lot of value by carefully all the submissions.

Re:...end? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46090959)

Oh come on, the editors obviously a lot of value by carefully all the submissions.

FTFY

Re:...end? (1)

dysmal (3361085) | about 8 months ago | (#46091125)

"by carefully all the submissions" Someone has been practicing the Slashdot/Dice ways I see! :)

Re:...end? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46091323)

thatsthejoke.jpg

Re:...end? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46091049)

This, I thought, was way funnier. "While it was a commercial plop"

I've made typos in my time, but on what keyboard is the F anywhere near the P?

Re:...end? (1)

michrech (468134) | about 8 months ago | (#46091139)

They are close on the Dvorak layout...

Re:...end? (1)

Noughmad (1044096) | about 8 months ago | (#46091751)

While they are only two keys apart, they are on different hands. Not much chance of accidental key presses.

Re:...end? (2)

McGruber (1417641) | about 8 months ago | (#46091565)

That is where the similarities —

Also the sentence. :-)

That was my fault; the word was missing in my Submission [slashdot.org]

Collecovision (1)

oldhack (1037484) | about 8 months ago | (#46090713)

PC jr reminds me of the Collecovision pc thingy with tape recorder built in.

Re:Collecovision (1)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | about 8 months ago | (#46090865)

The Colleco Adam? That was a design nightmare.

Re:Collecovision (2)

oracleofbargth (16602) | about 8 months ago | (#46090923)

The Colleco Adam? That was a design nightmare.

Isn't that the one that would degauss any tapes that you left inserted, because it generated a small EMP when the power switch was flipped?

Re:Collecovision (1)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | about 8 months ago | (#46090937)

Yes. Inserted or anywhere need the drive. And you could open the drive door while the tape was moving, destroying it in the process.

Re:Collecovision (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 8 months ago | (#46091273)

And you could open the drive door while the tape was moving, destroying it in the process.

A friend once pulled a cartridge out of a Sinclair microdrive when it was operating. We never realized there was that much tape inside them until we saw it spewed out all over the floor.

Re:Collecovision (1)

david_thornley (598059) | about 8 months ago | (#46091159)

Don't forget that the Adam's smarts were in the printer. If that needed work (and printers of that sort were quite unreliable back then) the whole system was unusable.

Re:Collecovision (1)

ArbitraryName (3391191) | about 8 months ago | (#46091473)

Not quite. It's true that if the printer failed the whole system was out of commission but this was because the power supply was located in the printer, not "the smarts".

Re:Collecovision (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46091789)

That was an isolated problem that most people never had. I still have an ADAM and I've never lost data.

On the other hand, I can tell you I've had 4 Commodore 64 power supplies blow up on me over the years, so why do people love them so much?

Yes, the ADAM had some "interesting" design decisions, but also some excellent ones. As a matter of fact, the basic design was tweaked slightly and became the MSX standard that was so popular in Japan.

ADAM! (1)

KatchooNJ (173554) | about 8 months ago | (#46090903)

But it all comes in one box!

Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (5, Insightful)

billcarson (2438218) | about 8 months ago | (#46090759)

The keyboard was horrible, yes, but that was fixed within months (I think people could swap the keyboards for free?).
But for the money you got a lot more than the other home computers: a floppy drive, a computer that had a real
operating system, 128K of RAM!, compatibility with most PC applications, etc. Plus this was the computer that made
the Sierra Adventure games shine! (the enhanced graphics and sound made Leisure suit larry a lot better looking than its PC counterpart).
The BIOS interrupt changes may have caused some problems (the keyboard was mapped to the NMI, so you couldn't
touch it while transfering files f.i.) or compatibility issues, but that was only of minor concern at the time.
I still don't consider the PCjr a poorly engineered machine. There were better contenders in that category (some of the Franklin PCs, for instance)

Re:Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (3, Interesting)

MightyYar (622222) | about 8 months ago | (#46090809)

I think people were most offended by the artificial limitations. Most computer companies were pushing their hardware to its limits in order to stay competitive, and here comes a PC with nice hardware that is artificially gimped to protect the more expensive products. It's one thing to be limited by engineering - quite another to be limited my marketing. With a typical product, you can subjectively debate the relative value - but in this case, marketing handed you a concrete, objective list of items that you were not getting for your money.

Re:Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46090877)

Yep, I was eleven at the time, and even then we knew this. Only one of my friends got a Jr. ("Peanut" was the term we used at the time). His dad worked for IBM.

Re:Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 8 months ago | (#46091073)

I didn't know anyone with a Jr, but I did have a friend with a Tandy 1000 of some flavor. It was pretty cool, but he always had software compatibility problems.

Re:Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (1)

michrech (468134) | about 8 months ago | (#46091513)

I never ran into software compatibility problems with my 1000 (for non-game software), but it sucked that Tandy essentially put an EGA adapter in it, but then modified it enough that EGA software wouldn't work with it.. :(

Re:Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 8 months ago | (#46091747)

Yeah, we were like 10 at the time so I can pretty much only comment on game software :) IIRC, you had to have "TGA" support.

Re:Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46091205)

I think people were most offended by the artificial limitations. Most computer companies were pushing their hardware to its limits in order to stay competitive, and here comes a PC with nice hardware that is artificially gimped to protect the more expensive products.

Apple did a lot of this in the '90s, with their entry line, mid-line and high-end lines split into 100 or so different models, with a veritable stew of names and numbers on the front. Rumor has it even Apple's sales force couldn't keep track of which machines were actually in production and which had been discontinued.

My friend in college had a Mac TV she inherited from her father. An interesting idea, but horribly crippled. The thing was limited to 5MB of RAM even if you could find higher-capacity DIMMs to fit.

Re:Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 8 months ago | (#46091817)

Yes, usually not an effective long-term strategy. That's what you get for making a soda salesman CEO... a flavor for every demographic. Apple seems to have learned from their past - rather than create a gimped version of your product for the low end, just stay out of the low end altogether. I can't decide if the 5C is an example of them returning to past mistakes or if it was simply an ugly product without enough of a dollar savings to justify the downgrade.

Re:Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (1)

DrXym (126579) | about 8 months ago | (#46091795)

Reading the spec of it, it doesn't seem that bad for the time, but it just didn't do anything people wanted from a computer and became obsolete as 16-bit home computers appeared. I think more likely that it managed to alienate the two groups of prospective buyers at the price point. People who wanted an actual PC were disappointed by a crappy PC-a-like which couldn't run much software and came with a sucky keyboard. And consumers who wanted a home computer baulked because the Commodore 64, Atari 800, ZX Spectrum all cost less (and had more games).

Also it didn't help that IBM are incapable of marketing products aimed at the home consumer market. I swear if they made a car it would come with a 2600 page instruction manual in 5 volumes, be operated by 50 dials, levers and switches positioned randomly around the cabin and would be immobile thanks to its 10 ton weight and triangular "wheels"

Re:Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (2)

Sique (173459) | about 8 months ago | (#46090837)

Hm... I wouldn't call DOS a "real operating system", because all it operated was the disk drive. Everything else had to be done in the program itself.

Re:Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (2, Informative)

billcarson (2438218) | about 8 months ago | (#46090859)

DOS was more than just some FAT routines. There was a program loader, driver model (albeit a very naive one), system services (I/O, etc.), basic system tools (format, debug, command.com, etc.).
For what PCs were at that time, it was probably the best you could whish for.

Re:Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (1)

Nimey (114278) | about 8 months ago | (#46091059)

Apple ProDOS had most of that, albeit it was 8-bit.

Re:Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 8 months ago | (#46091353)

Crikey, I remember running OS/2 level 1 on a CoCo 2 and having device driver, memory management and i/o subsystems far more advanced than pretty much any other home computer; all on an 8 bit processor with 64k of RAM.

Re:Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (2)

clickclickdrone (964164) | about 8 months ago | (#46091435)

OS9, not OS/2, surely? (And note, Mac heads, this is the original OS9 from 79/80, not Apple OS9 from much later)

Re:Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46091655)

I installed OS/2 (2.1 or 2.2, can't recall exactly) on an IBM PS/1 (486 at 25MHz if memory serves) but, afterwards, I don't know how, I accidentally the installation disk 2 and then lost it forever.

Re:Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (2)

geekoid (135745) | about 8 months ago | (#46091183)

I wonder what the D stood for..almost like it was a system for operating a disk...
Oh well, I guess that's been lost to time~

Re:Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (1)

hattig (47930) | about 8 months ago | (#46090887)

But the model with disk drive and 128KB RAM was $1269 on its own, $1459 with DOS and a keyboard and a keyboard cord ($20!)...

To use the decent graphics modes, which used 32KB system RAM, you needed the 128KB version. The graphics interfered with the CPU when it needed memory, slowing it down.

But it had potential, but IBM probably wasn't the company to achieve it.

Re:Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (1)

billcarson (2438218) | about 8 months ago | (#46090917)

True, but a C64 with a floppy drive and monitor would exceed the 1000$ barrier as well.
The lack of dedicated graphics memory was an issue yes, but there were expansion packs for that.

Re:Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (1)

Snowgen (586732) | about 8 months ago | (#46091313)

True, but a C64 with a floppy drive and monitor would exceed the 1000$ barrier as well.

Citation, please

It just so happens that 1984 was the year that I bought my C=64, and it cost $150. And also (a little later) in 1984, after getting bored of loading Telengard from cassette, and really wanting to play Zork that I bought my 1541 from Toys R' US, for $150. That's $300. I don't recall the monitor prices (I used a used TV i picked up at a flea market), but I believe they were $300-$400.

Re:Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | about 8 months ago | (#46091349)

The C64 was $595 when launched. The 1541 was $300. No idea on monitor. By the time you bought it the Jack Tramiel price war was in full swing.

Re:Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (1)

billcarson (2438218) | about 8 months ago | (#46091455)

Maybe there were price differences between the US and European markets? Back then we didn't have the Euro,
but it would have been around 450â for a C64 I guess. Nobody I knew that had a C64 used floppies, as the floppy drive
was too expensive. Everyone used tape around here.
According to Wikipedia the price for a C64+Disk drive was around 900$ at that time: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... [wikipedia.org]
And that only gave you a computer with basic, limited expansion and no monitor.
I'm not denying that the PCjr was expensive, IBM was always a premium brand,
but you did get something more than the average home computer.

Re:Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 8 months ago | (#46090929)

, 128K of RAM!,

I was too young to use computers then. Was that enough for everyone?

Re:Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (1)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | about 8 months ago | (#46091101)

, 128K of RAM!,

I was too young to use computers then. Was that enough for everyone?

It ought to be. :)

Re:Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (-1, Troll)

telchine (719345) | about 8 months ago | (#46091005)

for the money you got a lot more than the other home computers: a floppy drive, a computer that had a real operating system, 128K of RAM!

This reads like a marketing thing for IBM. Do you work there? Have you been locked in the basement for 30 years. Dude, the year is 2014, IBM has long since become irrelevant in the home PC market. You can go home. Are they still paying you the salary?

Wikipedia says it only had 64KB RAM. The article says the Commodore 64 was half the price. Maybe that's why it failed.

Go get a job at Dell or something?

Re:Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (4, Insightful)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about 8 months ago | (#46091177)

I'll never understand these antagonistic replies on Slashdot. I suppose it's across the internet, but gosh darn it, why are people so *angry* all the time? Guy says, in his opinion, and with the passage of time, that maybe the device wasn't as bad as everybody makes it out to be.

You almost treat his post as a personal attack against your mother and everything else you hold dear.

Why?

It's a just a guy posting some stuff on a forum that 0.1% of the general public reads. Who cares?

Elucidate me. Why do people like you get so upset, resorting to silly replies like "Go get a job at Dell?"

Re:Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about 8 months ago | (#46091341)

...why are people so *angry* all the time?

There comes a time when the jewels cease to sparkle, when the gold loses its luster, when the throne room becomes a prison, and all that is left is a nerd's love for his antiquated computing platform.

Re:Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46091383)

shut up dickhead

Re:Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (2)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | about 8 months ago | (#46091523)

Some people are just giant douchebags with poor ego development. It makes them feel good about themselves to "catch" people being "shills". They imagine themselves the savvy Internet aficionados, instantly seeing through everyone else's poor attempt to pull one over on them.

Re:Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (1)

floobedy (3470583) | about 8 months ago | (#46091729)

Go get a job at Dell or something?

Grow up before posting or something?

Re:Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (3, Informative)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 8 months ago | (#46091011)

The PCjr has the distinction of the first IBM PC to be able to use more than 640k, due to the weirdness of the Video BIOS location. The anomaly is also the reason why people had to buy programs that said "PCjr Compatible". If I recall, my Dad's PCjr could address nearly 768k, without a Memory Manager doing funky stuff to jam TSR's into the space between 640k and 1mb.

AHhhhh good times!

Re:Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 8 months ago | (#46091111)

I thought that the keyboard was pretty good if you didn't know how to touch-type, it helped you not mash keys. Once you knew where the keys were, then it would just slow you down.

All I ever did with the PCjr was LOGO, for which it was a better platform than the Apple II. It was the first PC I used, though. Later, I was given an IBM PC with a 30MB HDD and an ISA card that brought it up to 448k RAM and added a RTC. Fancy!

Re:Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (1)

adric22 (413850) | about 8 months ago | (#46091219)

I too do not understand why the PC Jr did not sell better. It had graphics and sound that were way better than everything else in the PC-compatible industry at the time and the Tandy 1000 carried on the video and sound systems for several years and were still better. I've recently been playing with DOSBox and set the system type to "tandy" and have played some of my old favorite games and I've been pleasantly surprised how good they look and sound compared to a similar system of the time with CGA or even EGA.

Re:Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46091303)

> Plus this was the computer that made the Sierra Adventure games shine! (the enhanced graphics and sound made Leisure suit larry a lot better looking than its PC counterpart).

My old Tandy 1000EX was much better for playing them :)

Re:Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (2)

Bacon Bits (926911) | about 8 months ago | (#46091351)

We got our PCjr in 1985 some time. It did not have the infamous chiclet keyboard that was so reviled. It was still a condensed keyboard [electronic...tsales.com] with no function keys, however.

The lack of function keys definitely made office and productivity software written for the PC more difficult to use since it became a two key press. The keyboard didn't work well with combination presses with the Fn key, either, so you often had to press Fn, wait a moment, then press the key that corresponded to the key you wanted. It was cumbersome.

Other than that the computer worked great. I did a lot of BASIC programming on the cartridge, and the games were really quite good. We eventually got the RAM extension side cart that took the memory up to 768 KB. It helped quite a bit since you could often work in programs without having to swap your data disk out for the program disk, and there were several programs that required 256 KB to work. We kept this computer until 1990-91 when we got a screaming fast 486DX 33 MHz with 4 MB of RAM and a 130 MB hard drive (all direct from Intel thanks to a family member that works there!). When was the last time you bought a computer that was literally an order of magnitude faster than the one you bought 5 years ago?

Re:Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (1)

An dochasac (591582) | about 8 months ago | (#46091395)

The keyboard was horrible, yes, but that was fixed within months (I think people could swap the keyboards for free?).

As proof that computer companies have always blindly followed in the footsteps of other computer companies and repeated their UI mistakes, the following computers preceded PCjr's bad keyboard design:

When the PC/jr came out, the Commodore 64, Commodore Vic 20, Apple II series, Texas Instruments and Mac computers all had decent keyboards but IBM decided to reinvent keyboards again.

Re:Not as bad as the reviews made it seem (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 8 months ago | (#46091613)

no, it did NOT run the normal IBM PC apps that were popular and desired, the people who could afford the thing tried to run their business apps on it. and most games looked aweful on it

Fond memories (4, Insightful)

Bayoudegradeable (1003768) | about 8 months ago | (#46090769)

Dot matrix printer, Wizardry, Ultima IV (I think?), MicroLeague Baseball, Flight Simulator. A 12 year old that didn't know better sure enjoyed his PCJr

Re:Fond memories (1)

hoffmanjon (845536) | about 8 months ago | (#46090861)

I was 16 when I got mine and I also have fond memories with Wizardry and Ultima IV. While I started programming on my Commodore VIC-20 (in BASIC) I learned C and Pascal on my PCjr which led me to the career that I have today. Wish I would of kept it.

Re:Fond memories (1)

geogob (569250) | about 8 months ago | (#46090889)

Ah yes the memories! I also remember my original floppy of MS Flight Simulator (no sure if it was 1 or 2) infected with ping pong. That was the good ol' times with funny viruses.

Re:Fond memories (2)

McGruber (1417641) | about 8 months ago | (#46091479)

A 12 year old that didn't know better sure enjoyed his PCJr

My parents bought a PC/AT [vintage-computer.com] when I was 14 or 15. It had a 1.2 meg floppy and a 20 meg harddrive. I learned a lot on that machine and was very happy with it because I just didn't know better. I lost my innocence in 1988 or 1989, when I saw the (discontinued by then) Amiga 1000 [oldcomputers.net] in person for the first time.

It is still hard for me to believe that the first Amiga came out only 18 months after the PC Jr.

Color Computer FTW! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46090823)

Radio Shack, The 800 lbs gorilla of computer retail and manufacturing. No one did it bigger.

Then is all ended, badly.

Re:Color Computer FTW! (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 8 months ago | (#46090905)

I have a Tandy in my basement that will turn 30 this November. Still runs too, but they don't seem to make new software for it anymore...

Re:Color Computer FTW! (1)

fast turtle (1118037) | about 8 months ago | (#46091167)

the first family computer we had was a Tandy 1000 with deskmate. Nice interface, included some very useful tools and it predated WFW 3.11 while working far better. Now if I could only find my Tandy Dos (might even run on newer hardware). I've got a couple of old systems that may allow me to recover some of the files - had a music notation app included that we'd used to create a tune with. Want to recover that so I can at least print it out.

Next system was a Pentim 75 and it ran WFW3 until a power surge blew a chunk from the Southbridge. Ended up with an Acer running Win95 that was one hell of an improvement over WFW3.11 and it eventually saw Win98 upgrade. Many folks bitch about WinME but if you didn't upgrade the OEM hardware, it actually worked quite well (still have several systems that run it).

i bought one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46090825)

Bought one my junior year of college, I think it was about $2500 for the whole "package" (monitor, expansions, printer, etc.). It sucked, but it really helped me get through college, being able to use it to dial in to the campus system, do some Turbo Pascal, and even write a few papers (and a resume').

Funny that for all the bitching about the "chiclet" style keyboard back then, now I see way too many laptops (and even Macs) that are using what looks like the same style. I hated it then, and I hate it now.

Re:i bought one (1)

Speare (84249) | about 8 months ago | (#46090967)

Funny that for all the bitching about the "chiclet" style keyboard back then, now I see way too many laptops (and even Macs) that are using what looks like the same style. I hated it then, and I hate it now.

I definitely should have said this in my other post. I laugh and laugh at the Mac's chiclet crap. They're horrible to use for touch typing, just one step above a membrane keyboard. Yet everyone "loves" them because Steve Jobs told them to.

I swapped my chiclet infrared keyboard for the heavy-ass IBM keyboard right away. As soon as Macs went to chiclet, I bought two of the last heavy-ass Apple bluetooth keyboards; one for today and one as a spare, to use them through the years.

Re:i bought one (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 8 months ago | (#46091027)

I definitely should have said this in my other post. I laugh and laugh at the Mac's chiclet crap. They're horrible to use for touch typing, just one step above a membrane keyboard. Yet everyone "loves" them because Steve Jobs told them to.

The keyboards on the MacBooks are just fine. Actually very nice, because the amount of finger action needed to type is minimal. Returning your compliment, it's clear that you have been brainwashed by Google and Samsung to make such a statement.

Re:i bought one (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 8 months ago | (#46091811)

funny since what kind of kb's do google and samsung sell... ?

and "fine" if you mean "not totally unusable for touch typing". what sucks 100% 200proof monkeyballs on them is quite simply this: half of the fucking characters one needs to type eventually AREN'T FUCKING PRINTED ON THE FUCKING KEYS for aesthetic reasons! so good luck hunting where £ is the one time you need it!

Re:i bought one (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 8 months ago | (#46091171)

Clearly you just like it becasue IBM told you to.
I was very happy the day I could stop using those POS IBM keyboards, unlike you and your brainwashed ilk.

OR maybe, just maybe we just happen to like different keyboards?

Re:i bought one (1)

Blapvedder (3516173) | about 8 months ago | (#46091601)

I got mine around 1986, played games on it in high school but in college did all my work on it including Anthropology papers with detailed, lovingly hand-printer-coded tables and diagrams. Did my senior thesis on it using Volkswriter, brought the floppy to the campus laser printer to print two bindable copies. The floppy holding the only copy of the thesis died shortly after. Once I had my first job I invested in an sx/25 with an actual hard drive. I can't say I miss the PCjr, but I got my money's worth out of it.

Not too bad...for a PC. (1)

Lije Baley (88936) | about 8 months ago | (#46090849)

I bought one second-hand, circa 1986. It had the later, non-chiclet keyboard, and a Tecmar 256K expansion. I modded the Tecmar board to 640K and then it was functionally the equivalent of an XT with CGA graphics. Enjoyed it for a couple years before trading up to an Amiga 1000. Prior to Windows 95, I think most any PC was at a disadvantage in the home market.

Re:Not too bad...for a PC. (1)

Green Light (32766) | about 8 months ago | (#46091213)

Thanks for mentioning this. I worked at Tecmar in that era, we had a lot of great add-on products and made a lot of money on expansion boards, graphics cards, tape drives, etc.

Re: Not too bad...for a PC. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46091429)

Not really. The Junior was missing an essential component: the DMA controller. Since it couldn't use DMA for things like disk drive access, every byte of I/O had to travel through the CPU's accumulator. This is a major system bottleneck. The DMA controller was a seperate 40 pin Intel chip and omitting it probably reduced the cost by tens of dollars. It also severely crippled the I/O throughput.

who has actually used one? (2)

imatter (2749965) | about 8 months ago | (#46090853)

I had one growing up. I learned a little basic using it. I was all of 10 or 11... played King's Quest on it. Wireless keyboard!!!

Not having access to other computers at the time I never realize how big of a joke/flop it was considered until I was older. I don't think i was harmed by the use of the Jr. Funny thing is that most people I have talked to that make fun of it never touched one.

Remember the Nimbus? (Also 30) (0)

zacherynuk (2782105) | about 8 months ago | (#46090869)

We should remember the RM Nimbus PC-186 - it is also 30 years old this year!

Whilst it was not quite able to run MS Flight Sim 4.0 'properly' it managed to get very good penetration within the UK education sector.

Mac, PC, Time for a post on Commodore (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46090879)

Back then Commodore by and far provided the best system for the money, which is why it was enormously popular. GEOS provided a graphical interface that rivaled MAC, with commodore ram expanders and all sports of fun addons. (I particularly liked the sprite editors that let you 'erase enemies in games' etc .
imo

Had one. Liked it. (3, Interesting)

Speare (84249) | about 8 months ago | (#46090897)

I had one, and I really liked it. It lacked DMA on the floppy drive so things were a bit slower during a file load or save. It only had one bay. Otherwise, it was basically the same as the PC (my dad had a low-serial-number model 5150). It had a couple more graphics modes than the standard VGA, enabling a lot of games to use 16 colors rather than 4. Nobody I knew ever used the "sidecar" bus for anything worthwhile.

Re:Had one. Liked it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46091053)

Standard CGA, you mean? As I recall it had a mode not quite like EGA.

Shouldn't have called it the PC jr. (1)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | about 8 months ago | (#46090925)

The name PC jr made you think it was a cheaper version of the IBM PC. It was built for a completely different purpose, and a different architecture. People saw it as a crippled PC, instead of a home computer better than most.

trained from birth to 'make money' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46090977)

now we're told we cannot make our own even, just work to get almost none (usually just debt for most of us) of what someone else decides? fiction has never been less believeable

PCjr and the Crash (4, Interesting)

Pentomino (129125) | about 8 months ago | (#46091013)

I attended a panel of veteran video game programmers from the Phoenix area a few years ago. They asserted that the PCjr had a greater role in the video game crash of 1984 than people realize. Many software companies bought into IBM's hype that the PCjr would dominate the market, and put a lot of resources into PCjr development, and ended up going bankrupt when the PCjr failed.

Commercial plop? (2)

clickclickdrone (964164) | about 8 months ago | (#46091039)

I know it wasn't a seller but that's a bit harsh.

no currency has any value without spirit behind it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46091043)

honor integrity etc... heartfelt is the new material for the new clear options open honest age of communications & commerce. creation still undefeated language of the heart foolproof

Re:no currency has any value without spirit behind (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46091635)

pure bullshit, currency has value if you can buy things with it. spirit will only get you coffee at starbucks with a $5 bill

Commercial Flop? (2)

Marrow (195242) | about 8 months ago | (#46091135)

Didn't IBM basically consider the entire PC product a commercial flop? Was it ever considered a success (ie profitable)? I thought they considered it a commercial loser, but a foot in the door for their larger boxes.

Re:Commercial Flop? (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | about 8 months ago | (#46091307)

Yes and no. As a product, it sold way, way more than they expected. It was a sort of pet internal project no-one really thought would fly. However, when it did...

Later on, when it came to the PS2 range, I remember going to an IBM presentation. They were trying to get the same software running on everything from the PS2 PCs to mainframe with unified architecture for programming, GUI etc. Trouble was, the actual machines were too far removed from what was by then a booming and standardised architecture so outside of corporates who bought into the dream, not many people went for it and it died out.

Re:Commercial Flop? (1)

hrvatska (790627) | about 8 months ago | (#46091521)

Early on IBM made a lot of money off PCs. It made buckets of money from the original PC, the PC XT and the PC/AT. It was only after PCs became commodity items that IBM was unable to maintain their traditionally high profit margins.

It was a license to coin money. (2, Informative)

westlake (615356) | about 8 months ago | (#46091553)

Didn't IBM basically consider the entire PC product a commercial flop? Was it ever considered a success (ie profitable)?

By the end of 1982 IBM was selling a PC every minute of the business day. Although the PC only provided 2-3% of sales. IBM found that it had underestimated demand by as much as 800%, and because its prices were based on forecasts of much lower volume, the PC became very profitable. By 1983 the IBU had 4,000 employees and became the Entry Systems Division based in Boca Raton, and the PC surpassed the Apple II as the best-selling personal computer.

By 1984 IBM had $4 billion in annual PC revenue, more than twice that of Apple and as much as the sales of Apple, Commodore, HP, and Sperry combined. A Fortune survey found that 56% of American companies with personal computers used IBM PCs, compared to Apple's 16%.

IBM Personal Computer [wikipedia.org]

then the "clones" moved in (1)

peter303 (12292) | about 8 months ago | (#46091615)

Dell, Compaq, with relentless manufacturing efficiency> Even IBM sold their operation to an Asian clone.

I remeber those! (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 8 months ago | (#46091137)

I didn't have one, just like everyone I knew

typo? or unconcious attempt to sneak in a hole (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46091201)

word? Google Unveils Prescription Eyewear for Glassholes http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2014/01/google-glass-prescription-lenses/

Coleco Adam & Dec Rainbow were worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46091203)

The Adam and Rainbow PCs were much worse than PCjr. Its just that the PCjr was more famous.

Not that bad. (1)

wcrowe (94389) | about 8 months ago | (#46091247)

They really were not that bad, but those "chicklet" keyboards were awful. Yes, they were way overpriced, but those people who had the cash, and were interested in buying one, were turned off by those terrible keyboards. IBM eventually started selling them with keyboards comparable to those on their PC, but it was too little, too late.

Re:Not that bad. (3, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | about 8 months ago | (#46091803)

By the way, the video above shows the second generation keyboard. The infamous "chiclet [google.com] " keboard had no labels on the keycaps. The letter labels were on the surface of the keyboard between rows of keys, in order to permit overlays. That was a clever idea, but it wasn't going to fly in an era where mechanical switch keyboards were the norm.

Of course today crummy keyboards are the norm; I bet the second generation PCJr keyboard beats what most people are using these days.

I learned to spell playing KQ (1)

chispito (1870390) | about 8 months ago | (#46091285)

My dad bought it off my uncle, who apparently had buyer's remorse. They keyboard must have been the revision, because I don't remember any issues with it. Then again, I was about five, so what did I know?

I learned to spell playing King's Quest I, which is still fond in my memories. My mom wrote down a list of the words I would need to interact with the (frankly, pathetic) parser in the game, and left it to me to remember and figure out which word was which and how to use them. We bought several other games, but the only other star among them was Jumpman [wikipedia.org] .

Whats so special about 30th (3, Interesting)

rossdee (243626) | about 8 months ago | (#46091419)

Whats so special about 30th anniversary? Is 30 some kind of magic number?

I believe in western culture that 25th anniversary is a special celebration for married couples, (silver) and also 50th (gold)
And some cultures have special significance of 15th bithday, and/or 21st birthday

Re:Whats so special about 30th (3, Funny)

rubycodez (864176) | about 8 months ago | (#46091645)

that's the magical median age when slashdotters leave their mother's basement

Looking forward to the Slashdotting! (1)

DigitalDreg (206095) | about 8 months ago | (#46091503)

Regards, Mike (yes, the one that owns the page referenced in the summary) ...

$100 Tablet continues the dream and folly (1)

peter303 (12292) | about 8 months ago | (#46091667)

Raskins, Steve's , IBMs dream was a under $1000 reasonably powerful home PC. This was not really achieved until the 2000s thanks to Moores Law. And no one really celebrated this threshhold when it arrived.

The $100 tablet with as much power as iPad is the equivalent dream. Its getting close, but not quite there here. Some are selling underpowered tablets under $200 and shooting themselves in the foot just like the PC Junior. But we'll get there soon enough.

Three classic strikes (2)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 8 months ago | (#46091761)

The PCjr had three strikes against it right out of the box...

  • Not cheap enough compared to the IBM PC.
  • Late to market and fighting an entrenched Apple II family in the comparable price range.
  • Too expensive compared to the VIC-20 and the C-64.

Even without it's various technical and performance problems and unclear target market, it still would have had a tough time gaining traction.

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