William C. Lowe, the man responsible for leading the project to build the first IBM PC that would eventually change the world of computing and lead to improved collaboration within the industry, recently died from a heart attack. Lowe passed away on October 19, 2013, at the age of 72.
In the early 1980s, IBM realized there was money to be made from microcomputers. True enough, companies like Apple had been building personal computers for many years but IBM’s specialty was in mainframes. Their typical development cycle was four years – far too long to be competitive in the comparatively fast-paced microcomputer market.
Lowe, chief of IBM Labs at the time, proposed he could design and manufacture a microcomputer in just one year. He hand-picked talent from within the company and was able to complete Project Chess within the given timeframe.
On August 12, 1981, the company launched the IBM 5150 Personal Computer. Powered by Intel’s 8088 microprocessor and running MS-DOS, the PC sold for $1,565 and proved to be a game changer. It remained on the market for nearly six years until it was discontinued in April 1987.
Lowe left IBM in 1988 just a couple years after becoming vice president to take a position at Xerox. He was tasked with helping the company expand its manufacturing lines beyond copy machines. In 1991, he became president of the Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation and later went on to hold positions at New England Business Services and the Moor Corporation.