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On 20th Anniversary Of PC, Triangle Resident Who Helped Build It Reflects

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RALEIGH — Sunday, August 12, marks a milestone: the 20th anniversary of the IBM PC. The personal computer has changed the way we work, live and communicate.

The IBM 5150 was the powerhouse of its day. It had a 4.77 megahertz processor, 16 kilobytes of random memory, two floppy disc drives and a monochrome monitor. Dr. Dave Bradley was a member of the "Dirty Dozen" IBMers who developed the IBM PC.

"Your microwave oven probably has more processing power than the original pc does. It didn't back then, but that's just the indication of how far we've come," said Bradley.

Prototypes were hand-wired and used the then-new 8088 processor. IBM wanted an open system design.

"We wanted to invite the industry to participate with us because IBM, even as big as it is, or was back then, couldn't do all the things that customers might want," said Bradley.

Intel and Microsoft were brought on board.

"Microsoft was about 30 to 40 employees when I delivered the very first prototype pc to them in december 1980. Same was true of Intel," said Bradley.

Bradley is also known for inventing the use of the "control, alt, delete" method of quickly re-starting PCs when they hang up.

"I didn't intend to create a cultural icon. I just was solving a development problem. But I also want to share the credit. I may have invented control, alt, delete, but Bill Bates made it famous," laughed Bradley.

Today's personal computers offer blazing speed, huge memory, brilliant color monitors, sound, and lots of sophisticated software -- for thousands of dollars less than the most powerful original PC. Bradley sees more amazing machines in the future.

"Some kid is going to come up with an idea that we haven't got the faintest idea of right now, and it's going to revolutionize things sometime in the next 20 years."

About three million of the original IBM PCs were sold. During the 20 years since they were introduced, more than half-a-billion PCs have been sold worldwide.