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Don Estridge

Born June 23, 1937
Jacksonville, Florida
Died August 2, 1985 (aged 48)
DFW Airport, Texas
Nationality United States
Fields Computer Science
Institutions IBM
Alma mater University of Florida
Known for Developing the original IBM Personal Computer (PC)

Philip Donald Estridge (June 23, 1937 - August 2, 1985), known as Don Estridge, led development of the original IBM Personal Computer (PC), and thus is known as "father of the IBM PC". His decisions dramatically changed the computer industry, resulting in a vast increase in the number of personal computers sold and bought, thus creating an entire industry of hardware manufacturers of IBM PCs.

Estridge was born in Jacksonville, Florida. His father was a professional photographer. He graduated from Bishop Kenny High School in 1955, and from the University of Florida in 1959. He married Mary Ann Hellier in September, 1958. Three children would eventually be born from his marriage: Patricia Ann, Mary Evelyn and Sandra Marie.

He completed a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering at the University of Florida, and worked at the Army, designing a radar system using computers, IBM and finally NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center until he moved to Boca Raton, Florida in 1969.

His efforts to develop the IBM PC began when he took control of the small Entry Level Systems division in 1980, with the goal of developing a low-cost personal computer to compete against increasingly popular offerings from the likes of Apple Computer, Commodore International, and other perceived IBM competitors. To create a cost-effective alternative to those companies products, Estridge realized that it would be necessary to rely on third-party hardware and software. This was a marked departure from previous IBM strategy, which centered around in-house vertical development of complicated mainframe systems and their requisite access terminals. Estridge also published the specifications of the IBM PC, allowing a booming third-party aftermarket hardware business to take advantage of the machine's expansion card slots.

The competitive cost and expandability options of the first model, IBM PC model 5150, as well as the cachet of being an IBM product, led to strong sales to both enterprise and home customers. Over the next several years, Estridge received a string of promotions, and by 1984 was IBM Vice President, Manufacturing.[1] Steve Jobs even offered Estridge a multi-million dollar job as president of Apple Computers, which he turned down.[2]

Estridge and wife Mary Ann were killed when the plane they were traveling on, Delta Air Lines Flight 191, crashed at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on August 2, 1985.[3] He was 48 years old. The Estridges were survived by their three daughters. At the time of his death, the IBM PC division had nearly 10,000 employees and had sold over a million PCs.

Estridge has been honored many times. In 1999 he was identified in CIO magazine as one of the people who "invented the enterprise". The Don Estridge High-Tech Middle School—formerly IBM Facility Building 051—in Boca Raton, Florida, is named after him, and on the occasion of its dedication was given by Don Estridge's family his own personal IBM 5150 computer.

References

  1. ^ "IBM Archives: Philip D. Estridge". http://www-03.ibm.com/ibm/history/exhibits/builders/builders_estridge.html. Retrieved 2009-02-27.  
  2. ^ Ken Polsson [618] Accidental Empires - How the Boys of Silicon Valley Make Their Millions, Battle Foreign Competition, and Still Can't Get a Date, by Robert X. Cringely, 1992
  3. ^ "Slammed To The Ground." Mayday.

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