The IBM PC was an overpriced, slipshod piece of hardware even by the standards of the time.
The keyboard was indestructible. The case was a tank. The monochrome monitor displayed 25 rows of 80 columns, including upper and lower case letters.
Before the IBM PC was introduced, the personal computer market was dominated by systems using the 6502 and Z80 8-bit microprocessors, such as the TRS 80, Commodore PET and Apple II series, which used proprietary operating systems, and by computers running CP/M.
More than 50 new business-oriented personal computer systems came on the market in the year before IBM released the IBM PC.
Very few of them used a 16- or 32-bit microprocessor, as 8-bit systems were generally believed by the vendors to be perfectly adequate, and the Intel 8086 was too expensive to use.
Unfortunately, the IBM PC also included a few deliberate sandbags.
IBM decided to use the Intel 8088 after first considering the Motorola 68000 and the Intel i8086, because the other two were considered to be too powerful for their needs.
IBM never figured this was their last entry into the PC business. It was supposed to be a trial balloon. They had a zillion reasons to cripple the first edition, both in terms of processing power and in terms of memory expansion capacity.
By the way, did you actually use a TRS 80, Commodore PET, or Apple II? I used all three. Realistically, these all sucked for any serious purpose—except for learning the difficult art of programming the hard way.
It was just the other night I realized how starting my programming career on a TRS 80 with the notoriously unreliable tape drive influence my programming style for years to come.
No, BASIC did not ruin me. (I also picked up APL, several dialects of assembler within a year, rudimentary Pascal, some LISP, some FORTH, and most of C just as soon as I could get my hands on it.)
What did ruin me was the inability to curate a subroutine library of my favourite helper code. It just too took long to merge one chunk of code off cassette into another. (I believe the merge mode was that whatever new BASIC program you loaded just wrote right over top of any existing line numbers.) The TRS 80 was the computer I could use at school for free, which I did after school every day. Never had one at home until much later.
There was a certain kind of robustness you just didn't worry about, because every single program was pretty much home-cooked from scratch. At most, one might load something vaguely similar and then cannibalize some of the common bits.
Agile, look out—you ain't gonna need it. Every line of code ended up written in the least general way possible, so long as it sped up the code entry process.
Fortunately, I never had to use a cassette drive on an IBM PC.
On the IBM PC, I still had to multi-pass the compiler by switching floppy disks during the compile and link cycle, but that's a whole other story.
You know, the "standards of the time" included Heathkit, and Hewlett Packard (back when that still meant doing the right thing), and Tektronix, and later Compaq. The hobby computers were junk in part because everyone knew it was going to be a brisk ride. SOMEDAY SOON THERE MIGHT EVEN BE LOWER CASE. Basic economics.
Except for the IBM sandbag trick. That was old school economics, a first sour taste of something us hobbyists had not yet had to worry about.
That was the true legacy of the original IBM PC. It was the first coldly calculated, deliberate consumer diss. We all hates it forever for exactly that one thing.