The group at IBM were making history with their MS DOS operating system. The computer designation, also called “form factor”, was “XT” and stood for “eXtended technology”. It was for sure the IBM PC XT had it. This computer was announced in 1983 and was a direct competitor to the Apple II and the Commodore 64. The other name for this computer was the IBM Machine Type number 5160.
Technological history was made with the introduction of the IBM PC XT. The now-familiar name of “Intel” was the name of the processor running in the heart of this heavy machine. This computer was sold as a desktop model only. The weight came from the thick metal construction and the 130 watt power supply. The computer had the familiar look of the business machines of today, with the monitor perched on top the main case and the keyboard connected to the case via a cord.
On the front of the case was a slot for the double sided 5.25 inch floppy drive. The monitor was able to display color and could handle an EGA graphics card. The IBM PC XT was the first computer to come with a hard drive from IBM. It could handle 10 megabytes of data. It was accompanied by a 40 kilobyte ROM, 128 kilobytes of random access memory ( RAM ), and the Intel 8088 central processing unit. If the user wanted to add more RAM, they could buy expansion cards to bump up the specification to 640 kilobytes. The CPU was running at a respectable 4.77 megahertz. The cassette tape port was discontinued with this XT model. The complete package weighed 32 pounds. The case size came in at 19.5 inches wide by 5.5 inches high and 16 inches deep.
Microsoft “DOS” was the operating system of the IBM PC XT. By the time this computer was on the market, version 2.0 of MS-DOS was ready. Microsoft had bought MS-DOS from Seattle Computer Products just two years earlier. The IBM PC XT would be able to run version 3.0 when it was released in the coming year. Some of the games that the XT could play were Chess, Alive Sharks, Donkey Kong, Breakout, Roadwar and many others. The games could be played with a mouse or the arrow buttons.
The IBM PC XT was popular enough to spawn a number of copies of itself from other companies. They were called “clones” and had many of the same specifications as the original IBM model. Some of the companies that cloned the XT were from Taiwan. One clone was also made from a company named “Whole Earth Computer Systems”. The price of the XT was $4995 and it was upgraded in 1986 to a “5162” model. This computer would be able to outdo the next form factor, “AT”, from IBM because of an advanced RAM design. The XT would be discontinued in the Spring of 1987 and replaced with the PS/2 Model 30.
The IBM PC XT was produced in the thousands of units so they are not really rare. And, of course, there were many many clones made that had essentially the same specs as the XT. Still, if you want to play the old XT based games you might want to pick up and old XT to do it. You can find them for about $150.00 to $200.00 in good working condition.