Bill Gates and The Guy Who Could Have Been Him (Part 2 of 10)

 

Miss out the first part? Read it here.

 

However, patching together the computer’s software wasn’t Kildall’s greatest accomplishment. It was what he had done with writing new software code. Out of absolute necessity, and with no thought of the commercial possibilities, he developed a master program so that his unique little computer could adapt itself to run a useful software applications designed for much larger stand-alone machines. That’s how Kildall developed the first operating system software for personal computers.

After revising it further so it could run on the newer and faster Intel 8080 microchip, Kildall would call his operating system CP/M (Control Program for Microcomputers).

When hobbyist strated building their own 8080-based home computers, Kildall realized he had created something of value. He put a small ad in a computer trade magazine and began selling copies of CP/M for $70, first to hobbyist then to other small computer makers.

Within the next six years, hundreds of thousands of personal computers had been sold with CP/M running inside them. Kildall and his wife Dorothy made millions of dollars without essentially trying.

When the personal computer revolution took off in the late 1970’s. it launched on the wings of Kildall’s CP/M operating system. Prior to CP/M, every computer manufacturer had to deal with the headaches of writing machine-specific software for word processing, database management, and all the other things that people use computers for. But thanks to Kildall, these companies could now simply license copies of the CP/M operating system and their customers could buy whatever CP/M-compatible software they liked.

In 1980, there were an estimated 600,000 PCs in the entire United States and about 90% of them were running on CP/M and using CP/M compatible software. Popular software programs that time like dBase and Wordstar worked only with CP/M. Kildall created the bedrock and subsoil out of which the PC software industry would grow, according to Harold Evans.

 

Continue reading Part 3, Part 4Part 5Part 6 and Part 7.

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