Tech Time Warp of the Week: The IBM 5100 Portable PC


Cat Can't Scratch It
May 9, 2000
Thirty six years ago, IBM introduced the world to the first personal portable computer. The IBM 5100, was portable in the sense that you could take it with you, but at 50 pounds, you sure weren’t going to take it very far. That really makes your bulky five pound notebook feel light as a feather. :cool:

Fifty pounds may seem bulky today — and, no you couldn’t use it unless you plugged it into the wall — but the 5100 arrived at a time when most machines were still the size of your desk, if not larger.
Boots up to a BASIC prompt


Waiting for you to type your code in.
If anyone wants it make an offer.....
Father was in GTE's data services area and brought home a couple like systems in the early 80's but had floppy drives and a larger CRT instead.
I friend of mine had two of those things years ago...he picked them up at a flea market I think, just because they were 'different'.
The first portable I used was the Compaq portable ... 28 pounds of computing power (so she was a real sleek super model compared to the IBM :) ) ... 9" monochrome screen, a sprinting 5 MHz 8088 processor, and a whopping 20 MB hard drive ... I had to lug that monstrosity from Phoenix to Fukushima, Japan ... and I used it to modify and compile Z80 assembly programs to control a pick and place handler machine ... memories :cool:
Dang, THAT long I'm feeling really OLD :(:(

I remember seeing one of those when they first came out. I was programming in Assembler Language, RPG I and RPG II, on IBM 360s and, System 3s, plus NEAT3 on an NCR 100.

I thought it was really neat, but more of a toy than anything else. I mean really, BASIC?

I was something of a "Language Snob" I suppose
36 years ago? I'm really feeling old today :(

I remember when these came out & we laughed at how they where inferior to the Compaq's.
Boots up to a BASIC prompt


Waiting for you to type your code in.
If anyone wants it make an offer.....

I barely managed to resist the urge to create an account with the name "John Titor" and respond with an offer ...
I never managed to pick up a 5100, but I do have a couple 5155s (IBM PC/XT in a suitcase) still around. I took one apart about 10 or 12 years ago and upgraded the motherboard to a 486, gave it an IDE hard drive, network card, and installed Novell Netware 3.12 on it.

Hmm, now I want to go dig that out of the bowels of the garage...