IBM 5550 is a personal computer series that IBM marketed in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and China in the 1980s and 1990s, for business use customers. In Japan, it was introduced in 1983 and promoted as "Multistation 5550" because it had three roles in one machine: a PC, a word processing machine which was traditionally marketed as a machine different from a PC in Japan, and an IBM-host attached terminal.
The IBM PC that had been marketed by IBM since 1981, using Intel 8088, was not powerful enough to process the far eastern languages of Japanese, Korean and Chinese. Nor was the resolution of IBM PC's VGA display high enough to show the complex characters of these languages.
The IBM 5550 was first introduced in Japan in March 1983, using Intel 8086 microprocessor and was called "Multistation 5550" because it had three roles in one machine: a PC, a word processing machine which was traditionally marketed in Japan as a machine different from a PC, and an online terminal.
After the Japanese 5550 models, Korean, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese models were also introduced. IBM 5550 initially used its own architecture, but, later since 1987, was changed to use IBM Personal System/2's Micro Channel Architecture, being renamed as Personal System/55.
In Japan, Kiyoshi Atsumi, a film actor, was used to promote the 5550. IBM later introduced IBM JX for home users in Japan, Australia and New Zealand, and DOS/V for both business and home users in Japan.
IBM 5550's features are:
- Intel 8086 microprocessor
- 15-inch CRT display of 24 lines of 80 characters each, each character 24×24 or 16x16 dots
- Up to three 5¼ inch double-density (720 KB) floppy disk drives
- Japanese DOS or OS/2
- Application programs, such as Japanese Bunsho Program for word processing, 3270 emulation or 5250 emulation for IBM host communication, etc.
- 5551-A/B/C/D/E/G/H/J/K/M/P (Basic models, placed beside the display. Later became a smaller size like 5540)
- 5541-B/E/J/K/M/P (Smaller size models, on which the display can be placed. Later made even smaller)
- 5561-G/H/J/K/M/P (Larger size models)
- 5530-G/H (Stand-alone models, without the communications adapter. Used 3½ inch floppy disk)
- 5535-M (Laptop, using 3½ inch floppy disk)
In Japan, Multistation 5550 competed against:
- Introducing Multistation 5550 (in Japanese describes the models in detail)