Home : Hardware Terms : IBM Compatible Definition

IBM Compatible

The personal computer market in the early 1980's consisted primarily of Apple and IBM computers. Apple's systems ran a proprietary operating system developed by Apple, while IBM machines primarily ran PC-DOS. As the demand for personal computers began to grow, IBM decided to license the DOS operating system to other manufacturers. These companies began producing personal computers that were called PC clones or IBM compatibles.

As several other manufacturers began producing PCs, supplies grew and costs began to drop. This enabled more people to afford PCs and sales of IBM compatibles began to dominate the personal computer market. It wasn't long until the new manufacturers' PC sales surpassed the number of computers sold directly by IBM. The Apple Macintosh also gained substantial market share when it was introduced in 1984, but the low cost and wide availability of IBM compatibles kept their sales strong.

Sales of IBM compatibles surged again in 1995, when Microsoft introduced the Windows 95 operating system. However, by that time, the term "IBM compatible" had become almost irrelevant, since most PCs used Microsoft Windows as the primary operating system. Also, PC manufacturers had been building their own computers for many years, and there were few similarities between IBM's own PCs and IBM compatibles.

In 2005, IBM stopped manufacturing personal computers. The company that started the PC revolution is no longer in the market. Therefore, the term "IBM compatible" is a bit outdated, though it can still be used to describe Windows-based computers. The term "PC" is more appropriate, albeit a bit ambiguous, since Macs are technically PCs too. Therefore, the term "Windows computer" seems to be the best way to describe a modern day IBM compatible.

Updated: May 3, 2007

Cite this definition:

http://techterms.com/definition/ibmcompatible

TechTerms - The Tech Terms Computer Dictionary

This page contains a technical definiton of IBM Compatible. It explains in computing terminology what IBM Compatible means and is one of many hardware terms in the TechTerms dictionary.

All definitions on the TechTerms website are written to be technically accurate but also easy to understand. If you find this IBM Compatible definition to be helpful, you can reference it using the citation links above. If you think a term should be updated or added to the TechTerms dictionary, please email TechTerms!