Bill Gates and The Guy Who Could Have Been Him (Part 9 of 10)

Appreciate more the story, read the previous post:

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6Part 7, and Part 8.


When IBM’s programmers tried to run MS DOS on their prototype IBM PCs, they could hardly believe how buggy it was. By one count Microsoft had left at least 300 bugs in the software, and IBM eventually chose to rewrite the entire program. But Gates delivered on time, which kept the entire IBM PC project on schedule. The new IBM PC made its debut in August 1981, accompanied by a massive computer industry had never seen.

It took only a few years for Big Blue’s new desktop machines to take over the entire PC market. By 1983, two out of every three new home computers were made by IBM and were running the MS DOS operating system.

When Kildall got his first look at the IBM PC, he was enraged. He felt that MS DOS was nothing more than a crude clone of CP/M and that Gates stabbed him in the back. But he never sue IBM and Microsoft, partly because software copyrights were a hazy area of the law, but also he was so confident of CP/M-86’s superiority.

Once that CP/M-86 was ready for release in early 1982, Kildall was certain that most computer users would switch over from MS DOS. That’s not what happened. CP/M-86 did prove to be a better and more reliable operating system, but it was also more expensive.

Then IBM cautioned PC buyers that it would only offer technical support for computers running MS DOS. In no time at all, Microsoft displaced Digital Research as maker of the industry standard in operating systems. Software companies responded to IBM’s growing market dominance by pouring their resources into new applications for subsequent revisions of MS DOS. They also stopped bothering to upgrade their existing CP/M-compatible products.


Continue reading the last part here.


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.