IBM even contracted out its operating system. The 5150 was bundled with PC-DOS, a product also called MS-DOS by the upstart young software company known as Microsoft. As a result, the product was also Microsoft's first step to designing what would become the world's most popular operating system.
The 5150 also possessed another advantage: It was cheaper than past designs. This model retailed for just under $1,600 for a basic system.
The device also helped spur the evolution of the industry. Today's smartphones and tablet computers aren't so much replacements for past technology, as they are the next generation.
Just how far have modern devices evolved since their bulky, primitive ancestors? Consider the specs of the most high-end 5150 system available when the product launched: 64KB of memory, a monochrome screen and two floppy disk drives, as Huffington Post's Larry Magid notes. And of course, no Internet connection, no touch screen, no iTunes and a single game, written by Bill Gates, in which the user drives a car and tries to avoid a donkey in the road. As PC World's Benj Edwards recently found out, the 5150 just can't handle most of the tasks we take for granted out of a computing device today.