Bill Gates and The Guy Who Could Have Been Him (Part 5 of 10)

To better appreciate the story, it is recommended to read these previous post first:

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

 

The contrast in the two men’s personalities came to a head in 1980 when IBM contacted them about the new secret project. Big Blue was the largest computer company in the world that time. It occupied a dominant position in the industry that even its seven main competitors were known collectively as the seven dwarfs.

By the late 1970s, IBM salespeople started seeing Apple II’s and other personal computers popping up in the offices of their big corporate customers. IBM Chairman Frank Carey, sensing a treat, decided if IBM didn’t move fast to produce a little machine of its own, personal computer business would soon get too big for even Big Blue to dominate it.

In early 1980, Carey signed off on a plan to rush an IBM PC to market by September 1981. The strategy was to cut out years of laborious development by using off-the-shelf hardware and by licensing existing software from other companies. Except for the logo glued to each unit, nothing about the new IBM PC would be unique to IBM.

An IBM engineer named Jack Sams was in charged with setting up licensing deals for the IBM PC’s software. Of all the personal computers in the market, Sams was not impressed with the Apple II, which is why the Microsoft called the Softguard caught his eye.

The one drawback to the Apple II was that its proprietary operating system prevented it from running popular CP/M-compatible software applications including Wordstar and and dBase. The Softcard was a little translator card, created by Paul Allen at Microsoft, that snapped into the back of the Apple II and turned it into a CP/M-compatible machine.

 

Continue reading Part 6Part 7Part 8, Part 9, and Part 10.

 

Advertisements