Readers wish Chairman Bill a very happy MS retirement

Plus - DRPFP of the Week

So Bill Gates embarks on his new career as a full-time philanthropist with the warm wishes of Register readers ringing in his ears. Well, not quite.

More than a few of you quibble with the BBC's annointment of Chairman Bill as the "inventor of the PC". And we herald the birth of a new subcategory of the FoTW (Flame Of The Week) - the DRPFP. Or Don't Read Past The First Paragraph.

I don't think the owners of the Media give a toss as to whether what is printed is true or false. What is important is to control the message. The trouble is that this is what future generations are going to be reading to find out about the past. Most of this 'faction` is bogus, marketing masquerding as real news.

As you so rightly recall IBM licensed an OS from Micro-soft for IBMs Personal Computer. I do find it laughable every time Bill comes out with one of his 'vision` statements. What's also funny is we have IBM also having retrospective visions of bringing computing to the masses, instead of what really happened. This is how I recall it.

IBM wanted to enter the desktop market but didn't want anything to compete with their own Displaywriter which they sold at $7,895. Therefore they they designed a low spec machine using commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) parts which sold for $1,565 and licensed - not bought - an OS from Microsoft. Microsoft delivers to them an adapted version of QDOS that they'de licensed from Seattle Computer. Later on they would buy it outright and hire on its lead programmer Tim Patterson.

Later on Compaq discovered how to clean roomed the BIOS, the only propriatry part of the PC and started making cheap PCs in the far east so undercutting IBM. Because of the licencing agreement with IBM Microsoft was clear to also license DOS to Compaq and the rest of the cloners who later on entered the market.

Actually Compaq wasn't the first cloner before them, it was Columbia Data Products. Yey another case of an urban myth that refuses to die.

James Cooke

Very well said, I'm glad some people still remember the facts as they were.


There's more:

I think the closest Gates ever came to creative originality was MS Basic. It was a good package and certainly the first decent high level language I saw on a microcomputer. It wasn't the first Basic - I saw Tiny Basic running on a SWTPC system in 1976 in NYC.

CP/M and Flex were better early OSen than QDOS/PCDOS/MSDOS and Microware's OS-9 (out a year before the PC was released) was the best of the lot. From the start it was a mutitasking, multiuser system and did it all on a 6809-based system with 64K RAM (level 1 or 1MB RAM (level 2).

Martin Gregorie

If he gets named as the first man to build a PC, then they dang will better mention that he stole DOS to do it.

(Name and address withheld)

I think the correct phrase is "bought a clone".

One reader points out that the endless quest for an entrepreneur hero isn't specifically American:

The quest for business saints in the discouse of US history is like the quest for revolutionary saints in China and Russia. America is founded on the idea of the poor boy, who didn't get much of an education, putting it to all those Yankee capitalists.

That Gates was a son of the affluent professional classes, just like most of the rest of the silicon elite, is handily glossed over. Ford was a horrible fascist, whose stupidity was at times monumental (relocating the Willow Run B24 plant because the original site was partially in a county that returned a Democrat!). Gates? We'll see.

The UK is going the same way, of course: witness the knighthood to the useless Stellios. That his father is a shipping magnate is again glossed over....

Ian Batten

As for today's cheap PC - weren't PCs from Commodore and Atari pretty cheap at the time too, we wondered? Steve Hewitt begs to differ:

Of course, you'd say well that's the same amount as a cheap machine today - not so. This little thing called 'disposable income' has a bit of an effect. £500 back in the 1980's was about the same as a grand or so today. More than an average price I'd say.

So sorry to say I think your talking bollocks.


And just who'd want to be the Henry Ford of computers?

Do the people enthusiastically comparing Bill Gates to Henry Ford know anything about the "Dearborn Independent"? Ford's virulently anti-Semitic rag is said to have appealed to a well-known Austrian politician.

P.S. I don't mean to suggest that Gates is a Nazi; just a solipsistic jerk.

Alan Rocker

I do not believe I will live to see it, but Gates will be nothing more than a footnote to "The History of Computing Devices". Much like the geocentric view of the universe. We currently are stumbling along, and have not yet developed the idea of what a "REAL" computer is all about.

Thanks for the counterpoint, though. I feel your opinions will be in the minority!

Jim B

Rick Damiani, however, doesn't think CP/M would have done what Gates' and IBM eventually did:

- As you mentioned, "CP/M was the high volume, low royalty shrink wrap OS that ran on all kinds of incompatible micros already[...]" And that was part of the problem with the PC marketplace. Lots (as you pointed out) of good boxes that could do cool things, but none of them were compatable with each other. Take that, mix in a bunch of NIH ego, and you have a marketplace so fragmented that sucuss was nearly impossbile. Once true 100% compatibility across vendors was achieved, developers had a a platform to target, and things took off from there.
One point, you missed, which is how two-faced MS and Bill have been over piracy. Up until XP, DOS and all versions of Windows were being pirated, and this worked to Microsoft's advantage to help get it in to all corners of the world. So MS were very careful not to rock the boat and only rarely did they voice ' concern' over piracy. Now that the market is virtually full and its really only a replacement market with less dollars being generated, one of the big problems is piracy of Windows and how they must be seen to be doing something about it. Sorry Bill it doesn't wash. But none of the sheep will see this.


Dave Stanton

Cool article. I think your "two views on to why the mass media is rushing to canonize St Bill" ignores the most obvious reason however, which is that the majority of the population, mainstream journos included, neither know nor care about the deeper background and history. For most people, the first computer they were exposed to had a Microsoft operating system on it - and I think even more people never experienced the internet on anything else either - and so as far as they are concerned it was MS that made it all happen.


Mark Gillman

And now for our DRPFP Award. Oli, you know who you are.


Bill Gates did NOT invent the computer ! He did NOT enrich our lives he cost us BILLIONS and BILLIONS of hours and dollars in LOST PRODUCTIVITY, PC crashes, data losses, PC viruses, identity theft, and more Ferchrissake. If you are so removed from REALITY that you don't know Bill had NOTHING to do with inventing a PC and that reliable Operating Systems existed long before Dollar Bill ILLEGALLY COERCED PC MANUFACTURERS into installing WINDOZE on ALL PCs for which MICROSUCKS WAS CONVICTED -- then you better get the Hell out of the PC Hack Biz because you just made a Goddamn fool out of your self.

Bill Gates should be BURNED AT THE STAKE for his crimes against humanity not Canonized as the creator of the PC which he is NOT ! And Bill Gates certainly should NOT be commended for stealing BILLIONS from consumers every year and then giving a few million of OUR MONEY to charity in HIS NAME. WTF is a matter with you, are you on CRACK???

Get a friggin CLUE before you publish such DRIBBLE about a CONVICTED CRIMINAL such as Bill Gates.

Reading. It's such a chore. ®

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