Father of IBM’s first personal computer, which sold out in stores in 1981, dies of a heart attack aged 72

Father of IBM’s first personal computer, which sold out in stores in 1981, dies of a heart attack aged 72

Lowe joined IBM in 1962, when he finished college with a physics degree

He left the company in 1988 to work for Xerox

Lowe is survived by wife, Cristina Lowe, five children and 10 grandchildren

By ASSOCIATED PRESS

PUBLISHED: 21:06 GMT, 31 October 2013 | UPDATED: 22:09 GMT, 31 October 2013

article-2482131-191C090400000578-775_634x651 article-2482131-191C9D2A00000578-349_634x425

William C. Lowe (pictured in 1987 with an IBM computer) died of a heart attack in Illinois at age 72; The IBM personal computer introduced in 1984 was a massive hit and changed society

The man behind IBM’s first ever personal computer, which sold out in stores in 1981 for $1,565, has died at the age of 72. William C. Lowe died of a heart attack on October 19 in Illinois, his daughter Michelle Marshall confirmed. Marshall said she didn’t realize the magnitude of what her father helped accomplish until she was an adult.

Lowe had a bold idea in 1980 – that IBM should develop a personal computer that could be mass marketed, expanding the company’s reach beyond businesses and into people’s homes.

One year later, the IBM 5150 personal computer was selling out at stores for $1,565, not including a monitor.

Lowe, who grew up in Pennsylvania and joined IMB in 1962, was credited with fostering collaboration within the computer industry.

His daughter said of her father yesterday: ‘I’m so incredibly proud of him … he’s touched everything,’

‘If he hadn’t taken a risk and had the chutzpah he did to make it happen, it could have taken so many more years before everyone had a computer on their desktop.’

Other companies were making PCs as early as the 1970s, but IBM was behind the curve.

Lowe was a lab director when he convinced his bosses that he could assemble a team to build a personal computer in a year.

Lowe and his team were able to develop the IBM PC so quickly by adopting open architecture — using parts and software from outside vendors, including Microsoft, according to IBM’s website.

Despite his accomplishments, Marshall said, her father didn’t really learn how to use a PC until he left IBM and was working at Xerox.

‘He was a slow adapter, but he understood the implication,’ she said.

A sports nut, her dad approached everything as a game. ‘He would tackle it; he was relentless,’ she said.

She said her father grew up poor in Pennsylvania and was the first person in his family to go to college.

Lowe joined IBM in 1962, when he finished college with a physics degree.

He went on to serve as an IBM vice president and president of its entry systems division, which oversaw the development and manufacturing of IBM’s personal computers and other businesses.

He left the company in 1988 to work for Xerox, and later became president of Gulfstream Aerospace Corp.

Messages left for IBM spokespeople weren’t returned.

Lowe also is survived by wife, Cristina Lowe, four other children — Julie Kremer, James Lowe, Gabriela Lowe and William Daniel Lowe — and 10 grandchildren.
William Lowe, who led IBM’s development of personal computers, dies at 72

By Tammy Webber, Published: November 1

William C. Lowe, an IBM executive who led the team that developed the IBM personal computer in the early 1980s, died Oct. 19 in Lake Forest, Ill. He was 72.

He had a heart attack, his daughter Michelle Marshall said.

Mr. Lowe believed that IBM should develop a PC that could be mass marketed, to expand the company’s reach beyond businesses and into people’s homes. In 1981, the company began selling its IBM 5150 personal computer at a retail price of $1,565, not including a monitor.

Other companies were making PCs as early as the 1970s, leaving IBM behind the curve. Mr. Lowe was lab director at the company’s Boca Raton, Fla., facilities when he convinced his bosses that he could assemble a team to build a personal computer in a year.

Mr. Lowe’s unit was able to develop the IBM PC quickly by adopting open architecture — using parts and software from outside vendors, including Microsoft, which was not well known at the time.

Despite his accomplishments, Marshall said, her father did not learn how to use a PC until he left IBM and was working at Xerox.

Mr. Lowe was a native of Easton, Pa., and attended Lafayette College in his home town on a basketball scholarship. He gave up the athletic scholarship, his daughter said, to devote more time to his studies.

Mr. Lowe joined IBM in 1962, when he finished college with a physics degree.

He went on to serve as an IBM vice president and president of its entry systems division, which oversaw the development and manufacturing of IBM’s PCs and other businesses. He left the company in 1988 to work for Xerox, and later became president of Gulfstream Aerospace.

Survivors include his wife, Cristina Lowe; five children; and 10 grandchildren.

 

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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