The IBM 4863 matched the industrial design of the PCjr, but was functionally very similar. And it wasn’t really priced any lower than it counterpart for the IBM PC. It’s retail price was $680, and the RGB cable to connect it to a PCjr was an additional $20.
IBM 4863 dimensions, weight, and OEM
The IBM 4863 was smaller than the 5153, its counterpart for the IBM PC, to better match the more svelte PCjr. It was 13.9 inches (35.3 cm) wide, 15 inches (38.1 cm) deep, and 12.9 inches (30.5 cm) high. But it weighed 26 pounds (11.79 kg), the same as the IBM PC CGA monitor.
The label says it was manufactured for IBM, not by IBM. It turns out the Japanese conglomerate Mitsubishi manufactured the 4863 for IBM, and the 4863 was very similar to Mitsubishi’s own AT-1332A monitor, the main difference besides the styling being the addition of a speaker to accommodate the PCjr’s sound chip.
Was the IBM 4863 monitor good?
What you got for your $700 was a 13-in display with a 0.42mm dot pitch capable of displaying 640×200 resolution with up to 16 colors, and a speaker. So it was a good monitor for its time, it was just expensive. And it left room to undercut IBM in price. Even if the PCjr had been successful, it would have faced stuff competition from Tandy. The initial monitor that Tandy shipped with the Tandy 1000, the CM-10, had comparable specs and sold for $569.
And undoubtedly, third-party monitors would have appeared to undercut IBM’s price, just like they did on the PC.
The 4863 did have a non-standard video connector, but adapter cables to use it as a standard CGA monitor did exist. So a surplus 4863 could serve as a less expensive True Blue CGA monitor if you wanted, although the case of a 5150, 5160, or 5170 dwarfed the 4863.
Computer Reset ended up with a huge inventory of 4863 monitors and sold them for decades. They were the go-to place for PCjr stuff, but also for IBM surplus in general.
CGA displays of any kind are scarce today, so a 4863 is useful with or without a PCjr. You’ll just need to buy or make a cable to connect the 4863 to the standard 9 pin CGA connector.
Price wasn’t everything
Even though the 4863 was a very expensive monitor, not everyone who bought one ended up paying full price. One of the promotions IBM ran to try to improve the PCjr’s market acceptance was to bundle the monitor for free with the system. It cost about $1,270 without the monitor. That meant a system with a monitor cost $2,000. But with the monitor included, $1270 wasn’t a terrible deal in 1984 for a home computer with an RGB monitor, a 360K floppy drive and 128K of RAM.
This probably played into Tandy’s decision to market its CM-5, a low spec RGB monitor with a picture tube better suited for a composite monitor then for RGB. They could sell the low spec monitor for $299, put it on sale whenever they wanted, and bundle the monitor with the system during peak retail seasons. And then they weren’t eating the cost of a high-end monitor. Tandy clearly studied the PCjr and learned from its mistakes.
The IBM 4863 was a fine monitor, just expensive. It was comparable in quality to the well regarded Commodore 1084, but not as versatile. Then again, for $680 retail, it had to be good.