IBM 5120

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IBM 5120
TypeProfessional Computer
Release dateFebruary 1980; 44 years ago (1980-02)
Introductory priceUS$13,500 (equivalent to $47,900 in 2022)
Media2 × 8-inch 1.2 MB floppy disk drives
Operating systemAPL, BASIC
CPUIBM PALM processor
Memory16–64 KB RAM (with 16 KB iterations)
Display9-inch CRT
Mass45 kg (99 lb)
PredecessorIBM 5110
SuccessorIBM Datamaster
Closeup of a running 5120

The IBM 5120 Computing System (sometimes referred to as the IBM 5110 Model 3) was announced in February 1980 as the desktop follow-on to the IBM 5110 Computing System. It featured two built-in 8-inch 1.2 MB floppy disk drives, 9-inch monochrome monitor, 32 KB RAM and optional IBM 5114 stand-alone diskette unit with two additional 8-inch 1.2 MB floppy disk drives.[1] The system was sold with both APL and BASIC languages in ROM and provided a toggle switch on the front panel to select the language. APL allowed numerous business software written on IBM minicomputers to run on the 5120.[2]


It was launched in 1980 as the lowest-priced IBM business computer to date. Depending on the options the overall system prices ranged from $9,340 to $23,990. To emphasize its office image IBM released in that same year 6 new programs: task inventory, billing, payroll, accounts payable, accounts receivable and general ledger accounting.[1]

Aside from larger screen size and performance benefits over its predecessor, the IBM 5120 design incorporated several usability advantages:

  • Reduced 'footprint' requiring less desktop space
  • Reduced glare on monitor, keytop and product surfaces
  • Ease of handling/lifting based on bottom form treatment
  • Reduced static loading in arms and shoulders due to keyboard palm rest

For its usability features and appearance, the IBM 5120 was recognized with two major industrial design awards and described with terms such as "clean, well thought out"; "subtle detailing shows great care in execution"; and "looks like quality″.[3][4]

IBM did not offer a LAN or hard disk drive for these systems. However, in 1981, Hal Prewitt, founder of Core International, Inc, invented and marketed the world's first and only hard disk subsystems and "CoreNet", a LAN used to share programs and data for the IBM 5110 and 5120 systems.[5][6] In 1984, Core introduced PC51, software that allowed 5100 Series computer programs written in BASIC to run unmodified on the IBM PC and compatibles under PC DOS and share programs and data on CoreNet, the LAN for all these models.


Timeline of the IBM Personal Computer
IBM ThinkCentreIBM NetVistaIBM Palm Top PC 110IBM PC SeriesIBM AptivaIBM PS/ValuePointThinkPadEduQuestIBM PS/noteAmbra Computer CorporationIBM PCradioIBM PS/1IBM Industrial SystemIBM PS/55IBM PS/2IBM Personal Computer XT 286IBM PC ConvertibleIBM JXIBM Personal Computer AT/370IBM Personal Computer ATIBM Industrial ComputerIBM PCjrIBM Portable Personal ComputerIBM Personal Computer XT/370IBM 3270 PCIBM Personal Computer XTIBM 5550IBM Personal ComputerIBM System/23 DatamasterIBM 5120IBM 5110IBM 5100
Asterisk (*) denotes a model released in Japan only


  1. ^ a b "IBM 5120 Computing System". IBM Archives. Archived from the original on 10 November 2011. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  2. ^ "IBM 5120 Computing System". Museum. Archived from the original on 2010-11-20.
  3. ^ ″Annual Design Review". I.D. Magazine, Product Design Award: IBM 5120 Computing System, Tom Hardy: Industrial Designer, 1981.
  4. ^ "Industrial Design Excellence – Gold IDEA". Industrial Designers Society of America, Product Design Award: IBM 5120 Computing System, Tom Hardy: Industrial Designer, 1980.
  5. ^ "Save IBM 5110/20 from junk yards of the world" (PDF). Core. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2010.
  6. ^ "1982 CORE Newsletter" (PDF). Core. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 November 2016. Retrieved 18 Nov 2016.