IBM PC compatible

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IBM PC compatible computers are those generally similar to the original IBM PC, XT, and AT. Such computers used to be referred to as PC clones, or IBM clones since they almost exactly duplicated all the significant features of the PC architecture, facilitated by various manufacturers' ability to legally reverse engineer the BIOS through clean room design. Columbia Data Products built the first clone of an IBM personal computer through a clean room implementation of its BIOS. Many early IBM PC compatibles used the same computer bus as the original PC and AT models. The IBM AT compatible bus was later named the ISA bus by manufacturers of compatible computers. The term "IBM PC compatible" is now a historical description only since IBM has withdrawn from personal computer sales.

Descendants of the IBM PC compatibles make up the majority of microcomputers on the market today, although interoperability with the bus structure and peripherals of the original PC architecture may be limited or non-existent.

Contents

Origins

The origins of this platform came with the decision by IBM in 1980 to market a low-cost single-user computer as quickly as possible in response to Apple Computer's success in the burgeoning market. On 12 August 1981, the first IBM PC went on sale. There were three operating systems (OS) available for it but the most popular and least expensive was PC DOS, a modified version of 86-DOS that Microsoft acquired full rights from Seattle Computer Products. In a crucial concession, IBM's agreement allowed Microsoft to sell its own version, MS-DOS, for non-IBM platforms. The only proprietary component of the PC was the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System).

A number of computers of the time based on the 8086 and 8088 processors were manufactured during this period, but with different architecture to the PC, and which ran under their own versions of DOS and CP/M-86. However, software which addressed the hardware directly instead of making standard calls to MS-DOS was faster. This was particularly relevant to games. The IBM PC was sold in high enough volumes to justify writing software specifically for it, and this encouraged other manufacturers to produce machines which could use the same programs, expansion cards and peripherals as the PC. The 808x computer marketplace rapidly excluded all machines which were not functionally very similar to the PC. The 640 kB barrier on "conventional" system memory available to MS-DOS is a legacy of that period; other non-clone machines did not have this limit.

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