IBM PC 5150 Notes

The following notes relate to identifying, configuring, and using an IBM PC 5150. This system was the original home/office PC offered by IBM in August 1981.

For an even older system, see my IBM 5110 notes here or IBM 5100 notes here.

Alley Cat in CGA (game from 1984) – IBM PC 5150 with cassette

The following notes describe various useful things to do with this system, plus a few “quality of life” upgrades using some modernized components.

Much has already been written on what the 5150 system is, why it is significant, and how it came about. Here are a few references to existing discussions on those topics…

My focus below is on specific aspects of the IBM PC 5150, as a guide to help those who may find such a system but might not be familiar with what it can do or how to use it.


  1. Things an IBM PC 5150 Can Be Used For (in the 21st century)
  2. Determining a “Model A” vs “Model B” IBM PC 5150 (sample BASIC to count memory)
  3. Motherboard Dip Switch Settings (set memory size and disk drive count)
  4. Connecting a Keyboard (options for Model F vs Model M)
  5. Setting up MDA/CGA (adapting to modern display)
  6. Setting up EGA/VGA
  7. Setting up a Tape Deck Connection (because the 5150 can)
  8. Setting up Floppy Disk Controller (and external connection 4x drives)
  9. Setting up HxC2001 Floppy Disk Emulator
  10. Setting up XT-IDE (add simulated hard drive using CompactFlash)
  11. Setting up WiModem232 (about serial IO and setup a modem to talk to BBSs)
  12. Setting up NIC (Network Interface Card and mTCP)
  13. Setting up DOS (PC-DOS, MS-DOS, DR-DOS and DESQView)
  14. Setting up SoundBlaster (and using MODM and GLX)
  15. Setting up Joystick
  16. Setting up Serial Mouse
  17. About the Author

My Quick System Overview

A “stock” (unmodified) IBM PC 5150 built and sold in 1983 (for CPU, power supply, main board, case and dual disk drives).

CPU4.77 MHz Intel 8088 (stock) with stock ’82 BIOS1983
SLOT 1: Hard Drive and RAMXT-IDE (with 128MB CF, with 1MB RAM extension)2016
SLOT 2: AudioSound Blaster 2.0 CT1350B (15-pin Joystick Port)1991
SLOT 3: Network Interface3COM Etherlink III 3C509B-TP (RJ45 ethernet)1999
SLOT 4: DisplayCGA/MDA (IBM OEM)1983
SLOT 5: Serial + Parallel AdapterIBM OEM1984
(can boot 256KB RAM, supports 128MB HDD)
Mouse DriverMicrosoft Mouse 8.201992
OPTIONAL H/W8-bit ISA OTIVGA (Oak Technology)1988
OPTIONAL H/WWiModem232 (serial modem)2016

Some have asked about the disk drive cover. This was not an IBM part. These covers were obtained via the following advertisement in PC Magazine:


The following sites contain what I consider to be reliable and interesting sources of information related to the IBM PC.

IBM PC Technical Source Archive:
Vintage Computing Forum:
Al’s Hot Rod XT: (including mTCP overview and setup)
PC Corner:
Don Barber creating boot disk using serial IO: Floppy-only PC with only blank floppies? No problem. | by Don Barber | Medium

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