Working forward through PC history

Hopefully I'll be back to now (2001, the year of the space odyssey) soon. While surfing around a bit othis afternoon, I found a very nice page that holds images of Interface Prototype Sketches for the Apple LISA.

These pieces are all out there, but often not linked from any easily accessible place and man, more than you can ever read ofi. In this way full text search is and will stay one of the most important tools in the web. A pity in many regards, but then again, maybe not.

Also today, in a post on Bill Gates and open source that Robert Cringely did for PBS and Hannes linked to today, Paul Allen gets mentioned. I'll take the freedom to quote that piece:*

"Your (reader) challenged Gates' claim by noting that the (IBM BIOS CHIP) is highly proprietary. He didn't distinguish the copyrighted chip from the interface architecture it implements. The chip is indeed copyrighted and could be infringed. The open architecture it supports was extended by Paul Allen's DOS 2.1 to actually support dynamic addition of features and capabilities at run time. This (DOS +BIOS) open architecture has been public domain since it first shipped ( Byzantine, but open).

As I have been mentioning here and there, it seems get more obvious that at MSFT Paul Allen was the advocate of an "open" attitude while Bill tended to propietary. A similar pattern as with Wozniak and Jobs at Apple. In the beginning of the PC industry the described sort of "open attitude" was crucial. When IBM left it with their microchannel architecture that was the beginning of their long fall. It is a bisless so today. But it seems it holds on insofar as openness to loyalists and on the APIs sid is still required and that this partial and painstakingly controlled openness is where everybody with a business target is moving now.

I'll mention something else from that article. The Apps group at MS wrote and used a C-Compiler that compiled to p-Code and the p-Code VM. They expected the HW/OS world to become more diversified and to really need a virtual machine target. MSFT was a really early adopter of VMs in the PC world- They could compete against Visicalc on those grounds but not against Lotus 123 that was tightly knit to IBM PC-Hardware and a lot faster performing. It also seems that this performance head start that Lotus got from ingenious Assembly Language programming was one of the things that forced everybody else to copy the PC closely and made only superficially compatible clones from manufacturers like DEC and Siemens obsolete in a short while.

And lastely: Bill was not the person who did move the PC world to more open ore more proprietary, I think, he looked at the trends and decided for implementation strategies to meet those trends. I guess this has been the inner engine of MSFT for their first 25 years: to be not the kings of design but the emperors implementation. Is this the correct abstraction? Yeah, I guess so. They are unbalanced already, MSFT, that is.

*Later note: all 3 documents this article links to are not online anymore. So it goes on the web.

last updated: 05.04.22, 07:16

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