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The system offered linked text-editing work stations that shared a storage unit a central processor unit, CRT-based display stations (IBM 5253 and 5254), a daisy wheel printer (IBM 5257) and an ink jet printer (IBM 5258). Depending on the model, from one to 18 display stations and from three to 12 printers could be attached.
While the Office System/6 introduced two years earlier by IBM Office Products Division (OPD) was focused on word processing, the new 5520 intended to complement existing products lines with text editing and data processing power. The need for action became urgent because IBM was losing market share to companies such as Wang who exploited display (size), storage (magnetic cards), and computing (performance) weaknesses of IBM's established product lines by aggressive marketing, including direct comparisons.
- IBM history article about 5520
- Business Week 19.Nov.1979 "lost 20% of this fast-growing market"
- ads e.g. in Cincinnati Magazine November, 1977 pg.9
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