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Lowe, father of IBM personal computer, dies at 72

Published on NewsOK Modified: October 31, 2013 at 1:10 pm •  Published: October 31, 2013
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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, died on Oct. 19 in Lake Forest, Ill., of a heart attack, his daughter Michelle Marshall said. He was 72.

Marshall said she didn't realize the magnitude of what her father helped accomplish until she was an adult.

"I'm so incredibly proud of him ... he's touched everything," Marshall said Wednesday. "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 that 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 well known at the time, according to IBM's website.

Despite his accomplishments, Marshall said, her father didn't really learn how to use a PC until he left IBM and was working at Xerox.

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