Re: Old PC Technology

Subject: Re: Old PC Technology
From: "Fred Ridder" <docudoc -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: john -at- garisons -dot- com, PoshedlyK -at- polysius -dot- com
Date: Thu, 08 Mar 2007 12:36:17 -0500

This is similar to the version of the CP/M story that I have
heard, which came from Robert X Cringely's PBS special
"The Triumph of the Nerds" on the birth and ascendence
of personal computing. That program had on-camera interviews
with most of the palyers who had been involved, so it has
some claim to being the real sotry. Apparently it was Gates
who set up the meeting between the IBM folks and CP/M
guy, Gary Kildall, the founder and president of Intergalactic
Digital Research because Gates knew that he did not have
an OS and did not have rights to CP/M. When Kildall blew off
the IBM guys, Gates saw an opportunity and hired a freelance
programmer to reverse engineer CP/M from publicly available
books on the OS. The really interesting part of the story is
that the programmer they contracted with was offered a
lump sum payment or a percentage, but opted for the lump
sum because he didn't think that personal computing was
going to go anywhere and he doubted that this tiny company
called Microsoft was going to be around long enough to pay
him more than the lump sum. Oops...


From: John Garison <john -at- garisons -dot- com>
To: "Poshedly, Ken" <PoshedlyK -at- polysius -dot- com>
CC: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: Re: Old PC Technology
Date: Thu, 08 Mar 2007 10:51:20 -0500

This is a great thread ... takes me back to my first days (early 70s) in
the computer biz. Cut my teeth writing manuals using hard-copy terminal
(video displays were still in the future) and IBM C-Script ... which
later made HTML easy to grok as both are essentially formating
languages. I worked on a couple of PC-like creatures for Wang Labs in
the early 80s ... and regard WordStar fondly.

Anyway, the story about the demise of CP/M is a bit different as I
recall my early computing history. Apparently the IBM guys preferred
CP/M and went to see Gary Kimball (the guy who wrote it). But he had
gone out surfing or paragliding or something that day, and they talked
to his wife. They gave her a sheaf of non-disclosure forms, and all
sorts of legal stuff that they said she had to sign before they would
say word one about why they were there. She refused. They got tired of
waiting for Gary to show, so they went to see this Bill Gates guy who
snapped up someone else's work for a song ($50K for Quick and Dirty DOS)
and sold it to IBM, but reserved the rights to use it and sell it to
others. IBM, who only saw the hardware as a profit item, allowed him to
do so ... and the rest is history ...


John G






Poshedly, Ken wrote:
> Yeee-Haw!!!
> Anyway, the story of the demise of CP/M - again confirmed to me by many
> others in the computer industry over many years - shows how it pays to
> be on time, because you just don't know HOW you can really screw things
> up. The story I heard is that around 1980, IBM was deciding on an
> operating system for its line of personal computers and had invited a
> rep from Microsoft, which was pushing its "Disk Operating System" called
> "DOS", and a rep from Digital Research which offered CP/M, to a lunch
> for each rep to pitch their own product. While the MS guy was there and
> on time, the Digital guy supposedly decided to be "fashionably late"
> (look it up - I don't know what else to call his decision). So the IBM
> guy and MS guy had lunch and waited and waited and waited and . . .
> well, today, it's a Microsoft world, apparently no thanks to the Digital
> Research guy who wanted to play hard ball and make 'em wait.
>
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References:
Re: Old PC Technology: From: John Garison

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