IBM Displaywriter System

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IBM Displaywriter with keyboard, CPU, monitor, and dual-drive 8in floppy disk "toaster"

The IBM Displaywriter System 6580 was a dedicated microcomputer-based word processing machine that IBM's Office Products Division introduced in 1980.[1] The system consisted of a central processing unit, based on the Intel 8086, in a desktop case, a monochrome CRT monitor atop the CPU, a detached keyboard, a detached dual disk drive that used 8-inch floppy disks, and a detached daisy wheel printer. The system booted from an 8-inch floppy disk that stored IBM's internally developed word processing software. The operator stored the "documents" (i.e., data files) on additional diskettes.

"A basic system — consisting of a display with a typewriter-like keyboard and a logic unit, a printer and a device to record and read diskettes capable of storing more than 100 pages of average text — cost $7,895 and leased for $275 a month."[1]

The Displaywriter's features were comparable to other dedicated word processing machines of its era. The features included mail-merge, with fields designated as a01, a02, a03, etc. Elementary arithmetic could be applied to the fields.

The basic IBM Displaywriter was a standalone system. An optional central storage and management unit was available, which permitted multiple Displaywriters to share storage and a printer.

UCSD p-System[2] operating system and CP/M-86[3][4] were available for the Displaywriter System but were not its regular Operating System.

Connections to other IBM systems have been available:

  • IBM 3278 emulation program to attach to IBM 3274/3276 controllers, IBM 4321/4331, or IBM 4701.
  • IBM 3277 emulation program to attach to IBM 3271, 3272 or 3274 controllers.
  • Connection to IBM 8100 systems which use DPCX/DOSF.

IBM later produced "DisplayWrite" software for the IBM Personal Computer with a similar user interface to capitalize on the Displaywriter's popularity.


  1. ^ a b "IBM Displaywriter". IBM Archive. Retrieved 2009-01-31. 
  2. ^ SofTech's new products extend p-System's versatility. Info World. Retrieved 2010-02-25. 
  3. ^ Digital Research (1981). CP/M-86 IBM displaywriter reference manual. 
  4. ^ Libes, Sol (December 1981). "Bytelines". BYTE. pp. 314–318. Retrieved 29 January 2015. 

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