Re: New Poll Question

Subject: Re: New Poll Question
From: Sandy Harris <sandyinchina -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Sat, 17 Dec 2005 09:17:46 +0800

Al Geist <al -dot- geist -at- geistassociates -dot- com> wrote:

> >I think this is bunk, Al. True, Bill bought DOS, but his Altair BASIC he
> >wrote himself.

> You could be right. I know he bought DOS at the same time Jobs and
> Woziak bought the mouse and GUI from Xerox. ...

Bought from Seattle Computer, the first company to market with 8086
boards for the S-100 bus. They wrote it in two weeks because they had
to have something for customers and CP/M-86 was late. Within the
company, I've heard they called it QDOS, Quick and Dirty Operating
System.

> ... "The original BASIC language was
> invented in 1963 ... by John Kemeny
> and Thomas Kurtz ... So BIll probably wrote
> Altair BASIC, but knowing Bill it was based on something else.

Yes, on Kemeny & Kurtz's !! open source !! free language. Gates (then a
Harvard physics student) and a partner developed Altair BASIC using the
university's computers.

> This is
> okay because every advance in anything is based o something that came
> before it.

In principle, yes, but there can be problems.

Kemeny and Kurtz felt that Microsoft BASIC was a vastly inferior version
of their language. Sometime in the late 80s they did an article in Byte
on "True BASIC", their notion of how to do it right.

Also, you can get gratuitous incompatibilities. When Microsoft took
MIT's Open Source security system Kereberos and made it the
basis of new, improved Windows 2000 security, they changed some
things and then used license agreements that tried to prevent people
from talking about the differences, from analysing the security or
building compatible systems.

Here's Ted Ts'o, MIT staffer and Kereberos developer on the problem:
http://www.usenix.org/publications/login/1997-11/embraces.html

--
Sandy Harris
Zhuhai, Guangdong, China
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Follow-Ups:

References:
RE: New Poll Question: From: Morton, Christopher
Re: New Poll Question: From: Al Geist

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