The IBM 5100 Portable Computer papercraft is available for download at the bottom of this post.
Since I started making these papercraft models, several folks have offered suggestions of computers I should make next. Most of them are the typical nostalgic subjects (all of which I want to make) but when I received a request for a IBM 5100, I needed to Google it.
This computer debuted in 1975, and cost as much as $20,000 1975 USD (64k). This 55 lb. monster was considered a portable because it had a self-contained 5” monitor, tape drive and came with an optional carrying case.
This machine was released 6 years before IBM’s more well-known IBM PC series and was considered to be among the earliest personal computers, bested only by MITS Altair 8800. To my eyes, the IBM 5100 is the first personal computer to be commonly recognizable as a computer.
This might have been enough to convince me to make this design but as I continued to read the request, I began to learn about the connections of this computer to both the John Titor time travel urban myth (2000) and the manga Steins;Gate (2009). Now I needed to Google those things too!
In 2000, a user who identified as John Titor started posting in various online forums claiming to be a time traveller sent from 2036 to find a IBM 5100 which somehow would lead to saving humanity. The specifics of Titor’s many claims and predictions are the subject of many meandering YouTube videos so be sure rabbit holes abound.
Steins;Gate is a manga from 2009 has a number spinoffs and anime series. It weaves the John Titor myth into it’s storyline going so far as to include a IBN 5100. Steins';Gate inserts many real-life references into the plot and fan’s documenting and collecting these items is not uncommon. Given the incredible cost of an IMB 5100, a papercraft version suddenly made a lot of sense.
If you are a fan of very old luggables, time travel, or the Steins;Gate series, this papercraft pattern aims to please. I adore the computers of my youth but I also love to learn about machines too exotic to practically own.
If you liked this write-up, please consider smashing that like button, it helps me gauge what I should make next (Apple fans, I hear you). Download the IBM 5100 papercraft pattern here.