Brain Teaser: In computing history, who were the “Dirty Dozen”?

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Pick your answer before reading further:

A) Shockley engineers who left to found Fairchild Semiconductor

B) A consortium of early porn sites

C) Engineers who created the first IBM PC
D) The Internet’s first infamous hacking group

A little background…

After IBM exec Bill Lowe demoed a system based on the Atari 800 in July 1980, CEO Frank Cary, president John Opel and others on the company’s Corporate Management Committee considered acquiring Atari to expedite the development of IBM’s first PC, thinking it would take them “four years and three hundred people” to complete the work.

IBM ultimately approved “Project Chess,” allowing Bill Lowe to form an independent group of engineers known as “the Dirty Dozen,” who were tasked with creating a working prototype over the next 30 days as well as delivering a finished product inside of a year. It’s said that a crude prototype was shown a month later in August and right on target, a year later in August 1981 the IBM PC (codenamed “Acorn”) was released.

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The first IBM PC ran on a 4.77 MHz Intel 8088 processor, 16 kilobytes of main memory, expandable to 256k, one or two 160kb floppy disk drives and an optional color monitor. All for a starting price of $1,565 (roughly $4,600 in 2020 dollars).

According to the book “IBM’s 360 and Early 370 Systems,” the dirty dozen were John Harmon, Jim Woo, Martin Halfhill, Russell Brunner, John McNulty, Robert Crouch, Frank Sordello, Rick Wilford, Steven MacArthur, Carlo Westenskow, Stanley Brown and Harold Yang. The book itself cites an interview with Martin Halfhill and Harold Stephens.



Correct Answer: Engineers who created the first IBM PC

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