Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Microsoft

The Man Who Could Have Been Bill Gates 458

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the stuff-to-read dept.
theodp writes "BusinessWeek discusses They Made America, a new book which claims Bill Gates got the rewards due Gary Kildall. The book attacks the reputations of key early PC era players - Gates, IBM, and QDOS programmer Tim Paterson - asserting that Paterson copied parts of Kildall's CP/M and that IBM tricked Kildall, allowing Gates to prevail and depriving Kildall of untold riches and credit for a seminal role in the PC revolution. Some material came from an unpublished memoir penned by Kildall after the University of Washington, where Kildall earned a PhD, picked Harvard dropout Gates as keynote speaker for the 25th anniversary of its CS program."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Man Who Could Have Been Bill Gates

Comments Filter:
  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:06AM (#10564062) Homepage Journal
    After reading the title, I thought this was going to be about Steve Jobs!
  • Not entirely untold (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:06AM (#10564063)
    This has actually been discussed at length in other books, most notably Michael Swaine's excellent Fire In The Valley [amazon.com].
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:17AM (#10564157)
      The cool thing about that book is that the first edition was written in 1984, and so offers a timely perspective on the formation of the computer industry. It's not a "looking back" history where facts get muddled over time. Everything is fresh. The second, 1999, edition updates with the history that happened since, and everything remains timely. I read the first edition in college, and bought the second when it came out.

      The book was made into a movie [imdb.com] a few years ago, which I believe aired on TNT (if memory serves). I see it is now also available on video.
      • by pilgrim23 (716938)
        Pirates is an absolutely EXCELLENT movie. It captures the true nature of Gates, Allen, Ballmer, Job and the Woz. If you check out Woz.org [woz.org] he has many an interesting thing to say on that period
    • by zoeblade (600058)

      This has actually been discussed at length in other books

      Not to mention it was also discussed in Robert X. Cringley's Triumph of the Nerds [pbs.org].

  • Wrong person (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mirko (198274) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:06AM (#10564064) Journal
    Bill Gates was a negociator, not a programmer, that's why the other could in no way have become him.
    • Re:Wrong person (Score:3, Informative)

      by vasqzr (619165)

      Bill Gates was a programmer

      Sure, he didn't stay up late writing the first versions of Word, Excel, or even Windows, but he was a programmer. Rumor was the last product he actually worked on was a version of BASIC in the 80's.

      Why code when you can take over the world. He's way to old to really be a programmer these days, anyhow.

      • Re:Wrong person (Score:3, Informative)

        by Prof.Phreak (584152)
        Rumor was the last product he actually worked on was a version of BASIC in the 80's.

        I heard a rumor that DOS 3 was the last project that contained any of his code.
      • Re:Wrong person (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Loco3KGT (141999) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:56AM (#10564496)
        You missed the point of his post entirely.

        Bill Gates' rise to fame and power is because of his skill as a businessman - which I'm sure can be attributed to the laywer heritage he comes from.

        Kildall was a programmer - pure and simple. He didn't stand a chance on the open market against Gates.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @11:01AM (#10566043)
          > Bill Gates' rise to fame and power is because of his skill as a businessman...

          Wrong.

          Bill Gates rose to power because he is a criminal, and nothing was done when he broke the law.

          Gates had the good fortune to be working in an industry that involved a totally new technology, i.e. software. This meant that the government had no idea what to do about Microsoft's various acts of sabotage, fraud, etc. In a smarter world, the courts would have realized that you don't need new laws, rather, the same laws apply to software as apply to other property, and in other industries.

          Bill Gates won because the leaders of the other companies in the software industry were basically-honest, good businessmen, whereas Gates was a criminal.

          When the law is not enforced, a criminal will beat a businessman every time.

          Let's look at some of Microsoft's history.

          Microsoft was losing to DR-DOS at the start of the nineties, until Microsoft added a false message about the incompatability of DR-DOS (Gates knew it was false from Microsoft's own testing).

          That's fraud -- a criminal act. The courts ignored it.

          Also at that time, Geoworks was five years ahead of Microsoft in providing a modern, working GUI for DOS. DR-DOS and Geoworks were being pre-installed on a large percentage of PCs. But Microsoft made a change to DOS specifically to cause Geoworks to fail.

          That's sabotage -- a criminal act. The courts ignored it.

          WordPerfect had already beaten Microsoft in the Word Processing market. But Microsoft side-tracked Wordperfect when they promised the world that OS/2 was the new direction, then undermined WordPerfect on Windows by providing intentionally-broken API calls.

          That's fraud and sabotage, ignored by the courts.

          Netscape had already beaten Microsoft in the browser market, until Microsoft started doing things like paying companies to break their contracts with Netscape.

          There were various criminal acts there, which were generally ignored by the courts (other than a partial invocation of the nearly-useless anti-trust laws).

          And in Java, Sun provided a cross-platform language that was perfect for web-based applications, such as e-commerce. Microsoft had nothing similar to offer, and it has taken Microsoft ten years to catch up.

          Once again, Microsoft stopped Java with sabotage and fraud. And this time, Microsoft's criminal acts were perfectly documented [sun.com] in Microsoft's own internal papers:

          Sabotage:

          "Strategic Objective . . . Kill cross-platform Java by grow[ing] the polluted Java market."

          Fraud:

          "At this point its [sic] not good to create MORE noise around our win32 java classes. Instead we should just quietly grow j++ share and assume that people will take advantage of our classes without ever realizing they are building win32-only java apps."

          Some people point to Microsoft as an example of Capitalism at work, but it's not true. When criminals are allowed to get away with their crimes, it actually undermines Capitalism.

          To repeat my initial point. Bill Gates is NOT a "skilled businessman" -- he is a criminal, whose various acts of sabotage, fraud, and so on, should have landed him in jail.
          • by angle_slam (623817) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @12:55PM (#10567340)
            Microsoft was losing to DR-DOS at the start of the nineties, until Microsoft added a false message about the incompatability of DR-DOS (Gates knew it was false from Microsoft's own testing).

            I don't remember it that way. The reviewers thought DR DOS was better, but it was nowhere near MSDOS's market share. Sort of like how Firefox is better, but is just a blip on screen compared to IE.

          • by ToSeek (529348) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @01:06PM (#10567445)

            Microsoft was losing to DR-DOS at the start of the nineties, until Microsoft added a false message about the incompatability of DR-DOS (Gates knew it was false from Microsoft's own testing).

            This message never appeared in versions sold to consumers. Is the rest of your information as accurate?

            Also at that time, Geoworks was five years ahead of Microsoft in providing a modern, working GUI for DOS. DR-DOS and Geoworks were being pre-installed on a large percentage of PCs. But Microsoft made a change to DOS specifically to cause Geoworks to fail.

            Apparently, because I can't find a single reference to this by Googling.

            • I seem to remember articles in computer magazines at the time about how new versions of Windows (3.1/3.11?) wouldn't work in DR DOS for less than technical reasons.

              Time is long and memories are short. Mine isn't what it used to be. People interpret the facts and "remember" things based upon what they percieved.

              Revisionist historians try all kinds of dirty tricks.

              Over the years I've seen many ruthless business moves from many companies, Microsoft included, and once superior products with great futures curtai

            • Odd, I got that very message. Not knowing much about computers at the time, I reinstalled MS-DOS. I believe it was Windows 3.1.
        • Re:Wrong person (Score:5, Informative)

          by johansalk (818687) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @11:15AM (#10566193)
          You're right. Gates himself attributes his early success to one thing, contracts! He understood contracts, what they meant, how to do them, and so on. The Microsoft vs Apple case regarding the "look and feel" of the Macintosh interface imitated in windows is an example of that; Apple signed an agreement with Microsoft that effectively banned it from imitating the Mac, and Gates was apparently careful to specify a certain version of windows in the text of the document, so that when Microsoft followed it up with a later version of windows, and Apple sued, their lawsuit collapsed in court as a result of that previous agreement they had.
    • Re:Wrong person (Score:5, Insightful)

      by garcia (6573) * on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:14AM (#10564137)
      Exactly. Kildall was never known for his business sense. He was known as an "inventor" and a programmer. Gates was smart in doing what he did back then (royalty fees and the such). He let others do the work for him and he made the money. Others just couldn't see the future. Apparently Gates could (at least then).

      Some might view Kildall's story as being a sad one. A man driven to alcohol because his wife wouldn't sign an NDA or because he supposedly went flying. Whatever. The man had a poor business sense and he didn't see the value in doing what he needed to do to win.

      It's not like he didn't make a ton of money. He ended up selling out to Novell for something like $125 million. Honestly, I think that's significant.
      • Re:Wrong person (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DigitumDei (578031) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:40AM (#10564345) Homepage Journal
        Being beaten by someone who he obviously thought was undeserving could quite easily drive someone to drink. It's not because of the money, it's the fame, and the fact that people say Bill Gates invented something that in reality he felt was his creation.

        The "theft" of something you create can burn the soul much more than any loss of money.
      • Re:Wrong person (Score:5, Insightful)

        by EulerX07 (314098) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @09:08AM (#10564596)
        I hardly think he got short changed then. I'd rather have 125 million and be relatively anonymous then be the richest guy on the planet, but unable to walk around in public without being annoyed (like movie/music/sport stars).

        Not that I have a choice between either unfortunately.
      • Re:Wrong person (Score:5, Insightful)

        by nomadic (141991) <.nomadicworld. .at. .gmail.com.> on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @10:30AM (#10565636) Homepage
        From the article:

        Kildall ultimately sold his company to Novell Inc. (NOVL ) in 1991 for $120 million. He went on to create some pioneering multimedia technology, but never again was an industry player.

        You know, after you break the $100 million mark I stop feeling sorry for you losing out on business deals.
    • Re:Wrong person (Score:5, Interesting)

      by !ucif3r (713159) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:28AM (#10564243) Homepage
      Actually Bill Gates was not a Negotiator. I don't know where you got that from. The people at IBM would not even have agreed to work with him because he was so arrogant if it wasn't for how convincing Paul Allen was.

      Paul Allen was pretty much the brains and the charm behind getting Dos into the PC. Bill was just his friend.

      IMHO: He got lucky.
  • So... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:07AM (#10564072)
    Would we have hated him as well?
    • by Moraelin (679338) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @09:17AM (#10564684) Journal
      Everyone on /. seems to assume that coding is the alpha and the omega and nothing else matters. That if you code some clever algorithm, screw the interface, screw users and screw marketting. Only the high magic hacking matters, right.

      You see that attitude reflected in 100,000 piss-poor open source projects that noone wants to use. They've got all these cool optimizations and clever hacks, and should have been the next greatest thing. Except they aren't, because noone gives a damn about them.

      What makes a program or a company successful is what you do _after_ you have the cool algorithm or hack. Like user interface. Or like usability.

      The same goes for CP/M. It was barely a program loader with the most minimalistic command-line interface. Even internally it was a primitive monolythic piece of code that basically it didn't even have DOS's (or Unix's) separation between directory entry and allocation table. It would have required a complete redesign just to support bigger floppies.

      DOS or CP/M were but a starting point, _not_ a killer app that turned MS into a monopoly over night. Sure, the cash infusion from DOS helped a lot to get them started. But if MS had stayed happily making just DOS, they'd still be a small company noone gives a damn. In fact, less than that, since other OSs were more advanced and Moore's Law would soon make a PC good enough to use those instead of DOS.

      The story of MS is far more complex than that of DOS alone. And their monopoly isn't just the OS, it's a whole lot of interlocking pieces which make the OS a must.

      It includes for starters making some damn good and _affordable_ apps for it too. When you ask someone why don't they switch to Linux, what's the ISO standard answer you'll get? "Does it run Word, Excel and IE?" They jumped on any app idea that looked like their users might need badly.

      It also includes caring about the developpers. Yes, laugh all you want at Uncle Fester's "developpers developpers developpers" monkey dance. But _that_ is what kept Windows having a steady stream of apps, while for other OSs you'd have a hard time just getting any dev tools at all.

      Basically while all the idiots thought "noooo, you can't take my precioussss compiler! I want to be the only one who sells apps for my OS!" and left you begging for months even for a compiler, MS almost gave away everything you could possibly want to make an app.

      It also includes being smart enough to realize the importance of users and of a good UI. You know why the relationship between IBM and Microsoft went sour? Because the idiots at IBM thought a GUI was a waste of money. That MS should concentrate on just making an API for geeks, and stop wasting money on stuff like a GUI.

      Etc, etc, etc.

      Saying that just replacing DOS with CP/M would have made another company become Microsoft, is short sighted and idiotic.
  • by dreamchaser (49529) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:07AM (#10564075) Homepage Journal
    So what? Life is not fair and never has been. I'm sure history is rife with examples of people 'not getting their due'.

    Waaaa...waaaa...waaaaaahhhh. Cry me a river!
  • Memory lane.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:08AM (#10564082) Homepage Journal

    I still have my boxed copies of CP/M-86, DR-C and DR-Fortran at home. Having used CP/M on an Apple ][+ with a Z80 card it was a pretty easy transition. To this day I still use Joe [sourceforge.net] as my editor. It's a virtual clone of WordStar that I used on the CP/M machine 20 years ago.

    Too bad DOS and MS won out, CP/M was the cat's meow at the time.
    • Re:Memory lane.... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by turgid (580780)
      Too bad DOS and MS won out, CP/M was the cat's meow at the time.

      My mother is a business studies teacher. Back in the 80's they used to have Amstrad PCW word processors in the classrooms for teaching word processing and spreadsheets. They were 4MHz Z80 machines with a single 3" floppy (180k) disk, 256k RAM and a proprietary cheap and nasty dot-matrix printer. They had monochrome bitmapped green screens. They ran CP/M 2.2 (IIRC) and came with Locomotive BASIC. One Saturday afternoon I hacked up a little Z80

    • Re:Memory lane.... (Score:4, Informative)

      by arivanov (12034) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:48AM (#10564427) Homepage
      CP/M was the cat's meow at the time.

      Cat's dung sounds more like it. CPM had FCBS instead of handles for file operations. For all practical purposes it was a VMS hangover which was horrible to program for and would have never scaled past what CPM was used for (simple 8 bit apps).

      One of the reasons DOS won (besides bundling, IBM and Paul Allen's excellent business sense) was Dos 2.x which introduced file handles (idea nicked from Unix). In fact this is where the PC revolution started because it was easy to use and easy to write 3rd party software.

      • Re:Memory lane.... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by LWATCDR (28044) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @09:01AM (#10564547) Homepage Journal
        Dos 2 also introduced a nested directory structure pipes, and I think redirection. At that time Gates was sure that Unix was the future and Microsoft even had it's own version called Xenix. When development of OS/2 started they sold Xenix to a company called SCO. A lot of Unix like stuff ended up in DOS.
        Digital Research never made applications. They believed that they should only make OSs and programing tools. I often wish Microsoft would have adopted that model as well.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:09AM (#10564090)
    Gates deserved his accolades for being a shrewd businessman, not for his programming skills. Kildall doesn't deserve them for precisely that reason, because he isn't a good businessman, couldn't promote himself or his products, etc.

    It's no good being a great programmer or having a great product generally if you can't communicate that or convince anyone of it.
    • by Prince Vegeta SSJ4 (718736) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:15AM (#10564142)
      PRESS ON. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing in the world is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
      • Calvin Coolidge US politician (1872 - 1933)
      • I can practically see this italicized text printed under a glossy colour stock photo of people climbing up a mountain or something...
      • by mwood (25379) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @09:16AM (#10564672)
        It takes all of that, but none of the others will get anywhere without persistence.

        Persistence without talent, education, or genius, on the other hand, generally leads to the kind of fame that most of us would rather avoid. It's the single driving quality of that leechlike salesman you'd love to punch in the nose, or the lunatic-fringe politician who just won't go away even though he never comes within 1/100 of winning. It's the life and breath of tin-pot dictators and fanatics.

        I agree with Cal's observations but not his conclusion. Persistence and determination can accomplish nothing worthwhile if you have no idea what you are doing.
    • by sepluv (641107)
      And it is even better if you aren't a great programmer and have a crap product, but convince everyone otherwise right?

      (Personally, I think we should reward the people who helped the world the most as opposed those who persuaded the world to give them the most money for the least work; but that is just my opinion.)
      • Personally, I think we should reward the people who helped the world the most as opposed
        That's fine. You can send your money to the various engineers working at large firms who designed and built water purification systems.

        Meanwhile everyone else will keep playing on their Xbox and sending their money to Microsoft.
    • ye gods (Score:5, Insightful)

      by HBI (604924) <<kparadine> <at> <gmail.com>> on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:24AM (#10564216) Homepage Journal
      "persistence". Okay. That very CP/M that IBM and Microsoft stole from him was the basis for DR-DOS (via CP/M-86), which Microsoft proceeded to sandbag via various anticompetitive means, ultimately resulting in a very hefty payoff for Caldera, plus significant contribution to the antitrust case against Microsoft.

      He was persistent. He did work hard. He had a slime ball working against him for whom laws are optional.

  • by jstave (734089) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:10AM (#10564104)
    from TFA: For all his technical brilliance, he was a poor businessman. I think that's the real point. It certainly wasn't technical superiority that got Microsoft where it is today. It was marketing superiority.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    You mean this guy could have been responsible for the least secure OS on the planet? That's a legacy best left to others I think.
  • Bil Gates... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pubjames (468013) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:12AM (#10564120)

    I'm sure we've all had experiences of people telling us how clever Bill Gates is inventing Windows, or the Internet or whatever.

    The real shame is that certain computer museums in the USA perpetuate the myth that the manufacturers of software like Bill Gates were actually the inventors of it. I also think that Steve Jobs is a cool guy but doesn't deserve much space in the history of computing. Commercialising and inventing are completely different things.
    • Re:Bil Gates... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by kahei (466208) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:16AM (#10564146) Homepage

      Yes, in the case of software, commercializing, while just as important, is harder.

      • Re:Bil Gates... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by pubjames (468013) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:24AM (#10564211)
        Yes, in the case of software, commercializing, while just as important, is harder.

        But is it as worthy of our admiration?

        • Re:Bil Gates... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by kahei (466208)

          Heh, that's a better reply than the geek rage I was expecting... I'm afraid I don't know the answer, though.

          I do know that people with bright ideas come and go but those with the huge persistence and blind arrogance required to forge a new business area are rare and valuable.

          • Re:Bil Gates... (Score:3, Insightful)

            by MvD_Moscow (738107)
            ...but those with the huge persistence and blind arrogance required to forge a new business area are rare and valuable. And of what use are these people without the ideas themselves? Without the ideas no amount of arrogace or persistence will allow you to achieve great hieghts.
        • Re:Bil Gates... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @09:46AM (#10565009) Homepage
          It's not a matter of admiration. It's simply a matter of telling the truth and only giving people credit for their own accomplishments.

          Ford did not invent the assembly line.
          Edison did not invent the lightbulb.
          Gates did not invent the internet.
    • Re:Bil Gates... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You certainly have no clue as to Steve Jobs involvement in Apple's technologies and products.

      • Re:Bil Gates... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by pubjames (468013)
        You certainly have no clue as to Steve Jobs involvement in Apple's technologies and products.

        Yes I do.

        Jobs is brilliant at making great products, about understanding what will work commercially, etc. He'll look at something and say, hey, that's cool, we can do something with that. He's great at that. But that's different to inventing technology.
  • No big surprise... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drlake (733308) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:13AM (#10564128)

    I can't say I'm surprised to hear that Bill Gates wasn't the innovative programmer he's made out to be, but then we already knew that. His strengths have always been elsewhere, mainly in the form of making some pretty good business decisions. Because of that, this Kildall really couldn't have been Bill Gates - he obviously lacks the business sense.

    I do find the assertion that it was all a conspiracy with IBM laughable, though. First, why would IBM care? Second, if IBM had a clue about the future value of DOS back then, they would have bought it outright rather than choosing to license it.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The guy sold his company to Novell for $120 million. Cry me a river...
  • Coincidentally... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Dante Shamest (813622) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:14AM (#10564133)

    I was watching an old episode of Triumph of the Nerds [pbs.org] yesterday, and they mentioned how Gary Kildall didn't seize the opportunity.

  • Trusting IBM (Score:5, Insightful)

    by amigoro (761348) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:14AM (#10564134) Homepage Journal
    I had the misfortune of being employed by IBM for about 15 months. I had to sign this contract by which I effectively sold my intellectual property rights to IBM, even a few years after the termination of my contract. And I found out how ideas are developed at IBM. I was just a 19 then. I didn't know better. But I would never make that mistake again. The process goes something like this. You are young and innovative. You come up with a brillian idea. IBM takes it from you. IBM gives it to a different department. You are never ever to have anything to do with your idea ever again. Your name is not even mentioned when the final product is released. You get absolutely no credit. I can well believe that IBM tricked Kildall. I wonder how long it would be before IBM tricks the open source community.

    Moderate this comment
    Negative: Offtopic [mithuro.com] Flamebait [mithuro.com] Troll [mithuro.com] Redundant [mithuro.com]
    Positive: Insightful [mithuro.com] Interesting [mithuro.com] Informative [mithuro.com] Funny [mithuro.com]

    • Re:Trusting IBM (Score:5, Interesting)

      by acomj (20611) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:34AM (#10564288) Homepage
      I worked at IBM research. Basically if you develop something on IBMs time with IBMs resources they own it. A lot of companies are like that.

      Some people like it because if IBM likes the idea they'll throw IBM resourses at it and let you develop it and pay you to do it.

      They give you a lot of resourses to get your idea off the ground and will reward you if its a successful product. If its credit your looking for do it yourself.

      They even tell the interns, if you have an idea and you want to develop it DON"t tell it to us.

    • Re:Trusting IBM (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ubergrendle (531719)
      Should i call you the "waaahmbulance"? IBM spends HUGE amounts of money on R&D. I'm willing to bet that you learned more about rigour, process, how companies operate, and advanced computing principles in general during the time you worked there, than you contributed back with your 'great idea'. Consider your idea a payment for training and life experience that you couldn't beg/borrow/steal for in an academic institution.

      If you didn't like the details of the contract, you didn't have to sign. If you th
    • Re:Trusting IBM (Score:4, Insightful)

      by confused one (671304) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @09:51AM (#10565068)
      Welcome to the real world.

      No, seriously, I don't mean to sound sarcastic; but, really... You worked for IBM. You came up with an idea on IBM's time. You told them about it. They own it. They can do what they want with it. Done.

      As for getting credit... products from large corporations like that are usually faceless. You don't get a copy of, say, AIX, with the authors name on the front page of the manual. It MAY be embedded in the source, if you have access to the source. That's the only place you'll likely find a name.

  • Dataflow analysis! (Score:5, Informative)

    by daveho (235543) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:16AM (#10564148)
    Kildall wrote a seminal paper called "A Unified Approach to Global Program Optimization" which introduced dataflow analysis as a general technique for program analysis and compiler optimization. Every time you add -O([1-6])* to your gcc command line, you're applying techniques that Kildall invented.

    CP/M was pretty cool, too :-)
  • "Kildall seemed to represent the best hopes of the nascent computer industry. But by the time he died at age 52, after falling in a tavern"

    "Kildall's then-wife, Dorothy McEwen, the company's business manager, refused to sign their nondisclosure agreement. She is now ill with brain cancer and can't remember the events, according to daughter Kristin Kildall."

    Do we see a trend here?
  • False Rights (Score:3, Insightful)

    by argoff (142580) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:19AM (#10564168)
    All too often I've seen people (in this industry) assume false rights (like intellectual "property") and then when someone else does an end run arround them then they get mad because they were sidelined.

    Well, I'm sorry to see them hurt, but what did they expect?
  • by jridley (9305)
    This assumes that Bill Gates is rich because he's a programming genius. That's not at all true. He's rich because he is a ruthless businessman, a shrewd negotiator, and takes no prisoners.
    • This assumes that Bill Gates is rich because he's a programming genius. That's not at all true. He's rich because he is a ruthless businessman, a shrewd negotiator, and takes no prisoners.

      And most importantly, he knows what the people want.
  • by baruz (211342)
    As Peter van der Linden wrote, "Don't worry about Gary; he'd rather be flying," or something to that effect.

    There are more important things than being the richest man in the world.
  • by Deathlizard (115856) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:27AM (#10564239) Homepage Journal
    Im parapraising "Trimuph of the Nerds" here so I'm probably missing something here, but basicially this is what it said.

    IBM First went to MS asking for BASIC and if they could buy the OS that was built into Microsoft Softcards for the Apple II for the IBM PC. MS directed them to Digital Research saying that they didn't have the right to sell IBM the OS.

    IBM goes to Digital Research, and basicially gets the cold shoulder.

    IBM Goes back to MS asking for an alternative to CP\M.

    Bill gates finds QDOS, buyes it for $50,000 dollars and sells the rights to it to IBM.

    More infomation can be found on wikipedia Here [wikipedia.org]
    • by Anonymous Coward
      What's missing from this explaination is that Tim Patterson was *porting* CP/M code from 8080 assembly to 8086 using simple macro tricks, and rewriting the BIOS as needed for his particular board. Gary Kildall provided him with CP/M source to do this. What Tim "sold" to Bill Gates was not his to sell, the macro-hacked source of CP/M. If Kildall's lawyer had focused on that aspect, they might have taken back the ownership of PC-DOS and been the dominate firm.

      Gates didn't win because he was a better busin
      • Is there any accessible source to the statement that Tim Patterson had access to the CP/M source?

        As opposed to implementing the CP/M API from the official programmer's reference.
  • Don't forget Novell (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ToasterTester (95180) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:36AM (#10564309)
    MS got the deal with IBM. But MP/M the multiuser version of CP/M was reversed engineered and became the "secret" filesystem of early Novell. That was why Novell brought DR to avoid a lawsuit, it wasn't just to get DR-DOS. So Kildall lost out there too.
  • by shoppa (464619) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:36AM (#10564318)
    It's not automatically true that if you've got a good running product that you can beat the sales team with no actual product.

    Even if you're product is technically best by some measure there are other products that may be technically better by some other measure. Hindsight often tells you which benchmark was right and which was wrong but in the heat of battle it's hard to see the forest for the trees.

    And all that said, oftentimes the selected product is simply vaporware (as was MS-DOS until Gates bought QDOS) when there are real running products out there. Part of it is salesmanship on one side and lack of salesmanship on the other side, but usually there's some favors being traded under the table.

    And while Kildall wasn't the biggest fish in that pond, he had hooks into a number of software packages (CP/M was being sold on millions of PC's, the DR languages and tools too).

    • by calidoscope (312571) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @09:35AM (#10564882)
      And all that said, oftentimes the selected product is simply vaporware (as was MS-DOS until Gates bought QDOS) when there are real running products out there.

      86-DOS, the sucessor to QDOS, was available from Seattle Computer and also used by used at least one other company, Lomas Data Products, before the IBM PC was announced (see the Lomas Data products ad in the June 1981 issue of BYTE).

      The BizWeek article was wrong in saying that MS improved 86-DOS for use with the PC. PC-DOS 1.0 was basically 86-DOS 1.14. The big modifications was to make it look more like CP/M UI.

      One of the biggest markets for CP/M was the Apple Z-80 board made by M$ and designed by Seattle Computer. The 86-DOS deal was the second time that SCP got screwed over by MS.

  • by PenguinRadio (69089) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:37AM (#10564323) Homepage
    I've heard the story about how IBM was left standed, but I've also heard that's just an urban legend and they did come to some agreement, went into some talks, and didn't come to an agreement on other matters. The NDA was just something that caught on to the storytellers, but wasn't totally true.

    So I recall hearing somewhere...
  • by Cryofan (194126) <cryofan@ya h o o .com> on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:38AM (#10564331) Homepage Journal
    Many Slashdotters probably know that the reason IBM worked with Gates and no one else is because Gates's family was rich and well connected. Gates's mother was probably the one that got him in good with IBM. Gates's mother served on the board of the United Way with IBM's Chairman John Opel. What a coincidence!

    This is just another example of how the elites at the top of the hieracrchy operate as some sort of parasitic sub-society, perched above us, exploiting the rest of us, feeding off of us.

    You may think that my perspective is warped, paranoid, whatever. But I think it serves as a reality check and a balance to the omnipresent messages of confomuity that society and the media flood us with every day.

    • by FacePlant (19134) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @09:08AM (#10564591)
      Furrfu! That's called networking. "It's who you know" is an axiom at all levels of society. Get out from in front of your computer and do things with people. One of them may be the key to your future. Stop whining. Life isn't fair. Buy a helmet and a hanky. Read "Fire your boss". If you want something to fall into your lap, your lap has to be where things can fall into it. And what the hell is confomuity? I like that word. Can I use it too?
      • Thanks for beating me to it.

        Ever hear of the 15/85 rule? Its from How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Those figures are from a study of engineers they conducted where they determined whether it was technical knowledge or people skills that got you ahead. The results were that its 15% technical skills, 85% people skills.

        I really do get sick of the bitching and moaning on here when people get upset that they aren't getting ahead in their path because the system is broken. Guess what,

    • This is just another example of how the elites at the top of the hieracrchy operate as some sort of parasitic sub-society, perched above us, exploiting the rest of us, feeding off of us. You may think that my perspective is warped, paranoid, whatever. But I think it serves as a reality check and a balance to the omnipresent messages of confomuity that society and the media flood us with every day.

      I actually didn't know that stuff about Gates. I thought he was just a sleazy businessman, but it turns out

    • by westlake (615356) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @09:38AM (#10564924)
      Many Slashdotters probably know that the reason IBM worked with Gates and no one else is because Gates's family was rich and well connected.

      Microsoft was incorporated in 1975. By 1980 it was well established and strongly positioned as a language company for microcomputers. MBASIC, FORTRAN, COBOL. It was certainly not an unknown quantity to IBM.

    • Interesting facts, but I don't think your interpretation of them makes sense. Gates steered IBM to Digital Research; he didn't have to do that. Although there are many stories of the IBM-DRI meeting floating around (Kildall was out flying, or his wife wouldn't sign the NDA), it's 100% clear that the DRI people's behavior and/or bargaining tactics drove IBM away.

      I don't think it was a class thing. I think it was more of an east-coast/west-coast thing, or a new-industry/old-industry thing. Digital Research w

  • by Burb (620144) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:42AM (#10564365)
    my 8" floppy disk died and I had an error message "BDOS ERR ON A: BAD SECTOR". Then I mistyped the PIP command and I had the error message "BDOS ERR ON A: BAD SECTOR"...
  • I dont think so. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by baadfood (690464) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:46AM (#10564411)
    Kildall was too shortsighted to have succeeded. Gates, for all that we slashdotters love to hate him now, was wise enough to see that there was more benefit to demanding a very low roylaty per copy.

    Kildall was too engrossed with making immediate profit to, even if he had got in the door first, have prospered for long.

  • by iplayfast (166447) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:55AM (#10564491)
    Kildall is requesting $699 per cpu of the operating system he invented. :)
  • by museumpeace (735109) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @08:55AM (#10564493) Journal
    It has brief bios of many of my heroes [Edison was a nerd, right?] with interesting insights into how they wrestled their ideas into realities, who they fought, what they did differently from contemporaries.
    In my 30 years of programming, many of them at startups, I know of nothing to compare to the myriad drained lives, burnt hopes and stolen thunder that bob and sink in the wake of Mr. Gates. Larry Ellison may be a runner up to Gates in this grim category but that is usually how those two fare in their competition. For every millionaire Gates made, there was a company out there that had a good idea and smart people who still couldn't grow in the shade of Microsoft. To name names would rub salt in the wounds of some good friends...lets just say having a great idea and a willingness to work hard are not enough to insure success. The lucky ones were assimilated.
  • by bcrowell (177657) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @09:12AM (#10564629) Homepage
    I worked at Digital Research for three summers (1982-84). The story about Kildall going flying was often told, but many people said it wasn't true. I don't think we'll ever know, because basically there aren't any impartial witnesses.
  • by adeyadey (678765) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @09:12AM (#10564633) Journal
    1) Release an O/S ripped off from a competitor, with no copy protection at a low price.
    2) Everyone adopts your O/S because it is cheap to buy, or can be copied for free easily.
    3) See off all competition, make the API so huge & unweildly that no one can clone it. Patent bits of it to make sure.
    4) Stamp down on copying, introduce draconian licensing scheme that ties every copy you sell to one PC, undermining normal rights of purchasers to resell or move O/S to other PCs.
    5) Jack up prices.
    6)...
    7) PROFIT!
  • Gary on Video (Score:4, Informative)

    by ch-chuck (9622) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @09:13AM (#10564647) Homepage
    IF you want to see Gary Kildall on TV goto www.archive.org and download some 80's era episodes of "Computer Chronicles" where he was often guest host - lots of other interesting guests too, like Bill Joy, Elizabeth Rather, etc.
  • by Bob Bitchen (147646) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @09:14AM (#10564655) Homepage
    It's true and it's also true that IBM did business with him because the CEO of IBM at the time knew Bill Gates' mom. "...you're Mary's son? Ok sure here's the goose that lays golden eggs..." So it helps to know people, definitely helps and it is what makes the world go 'round.
  • by nick_davison (217681) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @09:37AM (#10564911)
    "Evans bases his Kildall chapter on a 226-page, never-published memoir written by Kildall just before his death in 1994. ... But by the time he died at age 52, after falling in a tavern, he had become embittered and struggled with alcohol."

    So, the entire chapter is based on the writings of an embittered drunk after he had become an embittered drunk.

    "Screw you all, I would have been Shaq if it hadn't have been for that deliberate foul that caused my knee injury!" doesn't make the washed up drunk any more of a pro basketball player. It doesn't even mean the foul was deliberate. It means an embittered person who didn't have any of the rest of the personality aspects that led to the other person's success, never put in the work, never fought as hard to get back up from setbacks, and, likely, wasn't even fouled half as deliberately as they've come to convince themselves has simply convinced themselves that their life could have been better if it wasn't for something unfair someone else did to them.

    Basing an article on their embittered rantings, because it makes for a sensational enough article to sell some copies of your book and get some headlines, isn't exactly what I'd call great journalism.
    • The argument is kinda silly -- If you'd take the time to read about kildall at all you'd realize how bad he did get screwed. (Not that he didn't do his fair share of screwing himself...)

      -- How Kildall got fucked --
      1) When the IBM PC was released both CP/M and DOS were avaliable. DOS for $40, and CP/M for $240 (If this was a joke, Gary wasn't laughing.)

      -- How Kildall fucked himself --
      1) He was late for a meeting w/ IBM because he was out flying.

      2) He refused to make CP/M more user friendly. It was an incr
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Tuesday October 19, 2004 @01:10PM (#10567477) Homepage Journal
    They are totally different people with a different set of morals and attitudes..

    I dont believe Gary could be the same sort of ruthless business man that Bill has been.

    Having the product is only 1/3 of a business, the rest is how you manage 'the business'....

  • by ishmalius (153450) on Wednesday October 20, 2004 @03:27AM (#10573548)
    All of you should be horsewhipped, speaking so badly about such a wonderful soul. Gary Kildall was a true man of the people, and we were fortunate to have had him here for that brief period. He was that kindly professor, that smarter brother, that guy who was always there to lend a hand.

    I met Gary Kildall once, and was lucky enough to get a handshake from him, and a Hello.

    It was not that he was a bad businessman. It was that he was never about money. He truly believed in sharing his ideas with the people. He was the true populist. He thought that the purpose of his inventions were to aid in the advancement of humanity. I mean that literally, not as rhetoric; some people are actually altruistic by nature.

    It is an indictment of us all, that we equate money and power with success. We claim to rise above that, yet the comments here demonstrate the hypocracy of that thought.

    We have never had such a hero on our side. Apparently, we do not deserve one.

Steve Jobs said two years ago that X is brain-damaged and it will be gone in two years. He was half right. -- Dennis Ritchie

Working...