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For History's Sake: Paterson v. Little Brown
Wednesday, August 01 2007 @ 04:22 PM EDT

Do you remember the anecdote about the discussion about whether QDOS was derived from CP/M and Gary Kildall, the author of CP/M, suggesting that someone should ask Bill Gates why function code 6 ends in a dollar sign? The author of QDOS, Tim Paterson, was deposed in litigation he recently initiated, and they asked him about that, and now history has its answer, as you can see from this snip from the defendants' motion for summary judgment:
Thirteen years before the Book was published, Mr. Kildall was quoted in a newspaper article as saying: "Ask Bill why function code 6 (in DOS) ends with a dollar sign . . . . No one in the world knows that but me." James Wallace & Jim Erickson, Bill Gates: Of Mind and Money, Seattle P-I, May 8, 1991... In his January 2007 deposition, Mr. Paterson conceded that function 9 was terminated with a "$" sign only "because that was what was in the manual. They published a manual; the manual said put a dollar sign at the end. So I followed the manual." Paterson Dep. at 130:11-131:9.

You may have read about this case, Paterson et al v. Little Brown and Company et al, in The Register. I did, and after reading some of the documents, I decided that for the sake of history, it would be worthwhile to put the docket's main filings up on Groklaw of case number 2:05-cv-01719-TSZ.

At issue in this case was a chapter in the book They Made America, by Sir Harold Evans and published in 2004 by Little Brown, that said this about Kildall: "Gary Kildall: He saw the future and made it work. He was the true founder of the personal computer revolution and the father of PC software." The book also stated that QDOS was a clone of CP/M.

Evans and his publisher got sued by Tim Paterson over it. A suit for defamation, no less, false light and invasion of privacy. You can read the plaintiff's position by reading the Complaint [PDF]. For the defendants' side, you can read the Motion for Summary Judgment [PDF]. The court has now ruled in favor of the defendants. While it is conceivable that there will be an appeal, at this point, this court has decided the history of DOS and Dr. Kildall's role in it. And the case is Exhibit A proving the theory that defamation lawsuits rarely are a good idea.

There is an interesting side story. Dr. Lee Hollaar was an expert for the plaintiff. Here's part of what Hollaar told the court in his expert report:

9. In my opinion, the defendants have taken demonstrably-false statements and quotes from people without first-hand knowledge of the relationship between CP/M and QDOS, put them in a context that compounds their effect with respect to Mr. Paterson's work, and failed to subject the work for Mr. Kildall to the same standards, all to support the thesis of the chapter that Mr. Kildall was the "Edison of computers" who was "ripped off" in part by Mr. Patterson's illegal or immoral activities.

The defense then hired Gary Nutt as its expert to rebut Hollaar, and here's part of his own summary of his expert report:

A. Expert Report Summary

4. Dr. Gary Kildall created the first successful Operating System (OS) Control Program/Monitor (CPM) for a microprocessor.

5. CP/M defined a market that stimulated independent software development, inexpensive development platforms, and the proliferation of inexpensive application programs for inexpensive computers.

6. Dr. Kildall developed the Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) approach to designing small computer operating systems. This design was used in 86-DOS and its descendants.

7. At the time that Mr. Paterson developed the initial version of 86-DOS, he had no credentials for designing an OS, and used Dr. Kildalls CP/M design to direct the implementation of 86-DOS....

11. Sir Harold Evans' use of the term clone was qualified and accurately describes how 86-DOS compared to CP/M.

12. Mr. Paterson is unable to prove that 86-DOS did not copy algorithms, data structures, and other trade secrets and confidential information incorporated in the CP/M program.

Whereupon the plaintiff moved to exclude Nutt's report (for alleged lateness) and his testimony. The court however ruled in favor of the defendants on July 25:

The Court GRANTS Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment, docket no. 13, on each of Plaintiff’s claims. This case is dismissed.

The Register article explains the overview well. In granting their motion for summary judgment the judge explained his reasons for ruling as he did, and here is one of the fundamental ones -- truth is a complete defense to any defamation claim:

Summary judgment plays a “particularly important role” in defamation cases:
Serious problems regarding the exercise of free speech and free press guaranteed by the First Amendment are raised if unwarranted lawsuits are allowed to proceed to trial. The chilling effect of the pendency of such litigation can itself be sufficient to curtail the exercise of these freedoms.

Mark, 96 Wn.2d at 485 (internal quotations omitted). Defendants urge that Plaintiff cannot present a prima facie case for defamation and ask the Court to grant summary judgment in their favor.

1. Truth and Privilege.

It is for the Court to determine whether a statement is capable of defamatory meaning. Hoppe v. Hearst Corp., 53 Wn.App. 668, 672 (1989). “Defamatory meaning may not be imputed to true statements.”Lee v. The Columbian, Inc., 64 Wn.App. 534, 538 (1991). Put differently, the truth is an absolute defense to a claim of defamation.Ward v. Painters’ Local Union No. 300, 41 Wn.2d 859, 865 (1953).

[A] defamation defendant need not prove the literal truth of every claimed defamatory statement. A defendant need only show that the statement is substantially true or that the gist of the story, the portion that carries the “sting,” is true.

The court carefully considered the book's claims and decided they were not actionable. In some cases, he found that the plaintiff had overstated matters. I haven't had time to read the documents yet carefully enough to even have a personal opinion on the computer history, except to say that the court has ruled as it has.

Personally, I think folks *should* build on each others' software and share and share alike, because software is knowledge, and shared knowledge is a good thing. That's why I'm a GPL girl myself. I know others disagree, but in any case, one thing I'm sure of: history has value in its own right. For that reason, I am providing the significant documents so historians will have them to work with. Sir Harold Evans, in his deposition said, "History is a process of constant revision."

What I do have an opinion on is defamation lawsuits. They usually do backfire, just as this one has. Why? Because they're hard to prove, unless you can prove something was untrue, negative, and in the case of a public figure deliberately or negligently untrue. So all you accomplish is that more people hear about the very claims you wish had never seen the light of day. But there's another vital issue in this case, one that the court was sensitive to. I'd like to highlight footnote 13 in the motion for summary judgment:

13 Under the law of Washington, summary judgment is also designed to serve the important First Amendment goal of eliminating the chilling effect of unwarranted defamation litigation.... (The public interest is best served by expeditious disposition of cases raising First Amendment issues.).

Amen. And happily, the court agreed. Bottom line? People are sometimes too quick to sue:

The law of libel does not make actionable communications that are merely unflattering, annoying, irksome, or embarrassing, or that hurt[] only the plaintiffs feelings. 1 Robert D. Sack, Sack on Defamation § 2.4.1 (3rd ed. 2005). Additionally, [d]efamatory meaning may not be imputed to true statements.... The record shows that many of the statements at issue are indisputably true, supported by sworn and other statements by Mr. Paterson himself...

To capture all the fine points of the case, you will need to read the order in full. You can read an article by Dr. Kildall on the history of CP/M on this Digital Research page, if history interests you. Here, then, is the docket, with the main documents.

*************************

History

Doc.
No.
Dates Description
1
Filed: 10/11/2005
Entered: 10/13/2005
Complaint
Docket Text: COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES FOR DEFAMATION AND FALSE LIGHT INVASION OF PRIVACY against defendant(s) David Lefer, Little Brown and Company, Time Warner Book Group, Harold Evans Associates LLC, Harold Evans (NO Summons(es) issued) (Receipt # 320315 paid on 10/12/05) , filed by Tim Paterson, Penny Paterson. (Attachments: # (1) Civil Cover Sheet)(PM, ) Additional attachment(s) added on 10/14/2005: Email request to add new case (PM, ). Modified on 10/14/2005: to add copy of email and receipt number (PM, ).
2
Filed & Entered: 11/02/2005
FORM - Joint Status Report Order
Docket Text: ORDER REGARDING INITIAL DISCLOSURES, JOINT STATUS REPORT AND EARLY SETTLEMENT FRCP 26f Conference Deadline is 12/19/2005.Initial Disclosure Deadline is 1/3/2006. Joint Status Report due by 1/3/2006; by Judge Thomas S. Zilly. (GG, )
3
Filed: 11/09/2005
Entered: 11/10/2005
Praecipe for a Summons
Docket Text: PRAECIPE TO ISSUE SUMMONS.Sms (5) in blank issued. (CL, )
4
Filed & Entered: 01/12/2006
Notice of Appearance
Docket Text: NOTICE of Appearance by attorney Bruce EH Johnson on behalf of Defendants David Lefer, Little Brown and Company, Time Warner Book Group, Harold Evans Associates LLC, Harold Evans (Johnson, Bruce)
5
Filed & Entered: 01/13/2006
Order to Show Cause
Docket Text: ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE - Counsel are directed to show cause by JANUARY 31, 2006 why this action should not be dismissed for failure to file a joint status report. (CC, )
6
Filed & Entered: 01/17/2006
Notice of Attorney Association
Docket Text: NOTICE of Association of Attorney by Dietrich Biemiller on behalf of Plaintiffs Tim Paterson, Penny Paterson (Biemiller, Dietrich)
7
Filed & Entered: 01/30/2006
Joint Status Report
Docket Text: JOINT STATUS REPORT filed by all parties. Est. Trial Days: 15. (Biemiller, Dietrich)
8
Filed & Entered: 02/02/2006
Notice of Appearance
Docket Text: NOTICE of Appearance by attorney Kaustuv Mukul Das on behalf of Defendants David Lefer, Little Brown and Company, Time Warner Book Group, Harold Evans Associates LLC, Harold Evans (Das, Kaustuv)
9
Filed & Entered: 02/21/2006
Minute Order Setting Trial Date and Related Dates
Docket Text: MINUTE ORDER SETTING TRIAL DATE AND RELATED DATES, AND DESIGNATING CASE FOR MEDIATION; Length of Trial: *15 Days*. Mediation shall be completed no later than thirty (30) days prior to the trial date. Jury Trial is set for 9/17/2007 at 9:00 AM before Hon. Thomas S. Zilly. Joinder of Parties due by 5/15/2006; Amended Pleadings due by 3/21/2007; Expert Witness Disclosure/Reports under FRCP 26(a)(2) due by 3/21/2007; Motions due by 4/20/2007; Discovery completed by 5/21/2007; Dispositive motions due by 6/19/2007; Settlement conference to be held by 7/19/2007; 39.1 mediation to be completed by 8/20/2007; Motions in Limine due by 8/20/2007; Pretrial Order due by 9/5/2007; Pretrial Conference set for 9/7/2007 at 3:00 PM before Hon. Thomas S. Zilly. Trial briefs to be submitted by 9/12/2007; Proposed voir dire/jury instructions due by 9/12/2007; by Judge Thomas S. Zilly. (GG, )
10
Filed & Entered: 05/16/2006
Proposed Order (Unsigned)
Docket Text: PROPOSED ORDER (Unsigned) Stipulated Protective Order. (Johnson, Bruce)
11
Filed & Entered: 05/22/2006
Protective Order
Docket Text: STIPULATED PROTECTIVE ORDER by Judge Thomas S. Zilly. (LT, )
12
Filed: 01/04/2007
Entered: 01/05/2007
Affidavit of Service of Deposition Subpoena
Docket Text: DECLARATION OF SERVICE OF DEPOSITION SUBPOENA upon Harold Evans served on 1/2/2007, filed by Plaintiffs Tim Paterson, Penny Paterson. (LT, )
13
Filed & Entered: 03/15/2007
Terminated: 07/25/2007
Motion for Summary Judgment
Docket Text: MOTION for Summary Judgment by Defendants David Lefer, Little Brown and Company, Time Warner Book Group, Harold Evans Associates LLC, Harold Evans. Oral Argument Requested. (Attachments: # (1) Proposed Order Granting Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment)Noting Date 4/6/2007.(Johnson, Bruce)
14
Filed & Entered: 03/15/2007
Declaration
Docket Text: DECLARATION of Kaustuv M. Das filed by Defendants David Lefer, Little Brown and Company, Time Warner Book Group, Harold Evans Associates LLC, Harold Evans re [13] MOTION for Summary Judgment (Attachments: # (1) Exhibit A# (2) Exhibit B-F# (3) Exhibit G# (4) Exhibit H# (5) Exhibit I# (6) Exhibit J-L# (7) Exhibit M# (8) Exhibit N# (9) Exhibit O-Q# (10) Exhibit R-Z# (11) Exhibit AA-FF# (12) Exhibit GG-HH)(Johnson, Bruce)
15
Filed & Entered: 03/15/2007
Sealed Document
Docket Text: SEALED DOCUMENT Exhibit E to Das Declaration In Support of Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment by Defendants David Lefer, Little Brown and Company, Time Warner Book Group, Harold Evans Associates LLC, Harold Evans re [11] Protective Order. (Johnson, Bruce)
16
Filed & Entered: 03/20/2007
Notice of Motion Re-Noted
Docket Text: NOTICE that the following is RE-NOTED: [13] MOTION for Summary Judgment. Filed by Defendants David Lefer, Little Brown and Company, Time Warner Book Group, Harold Evans Associates LLC, Harold Evans. Noting Date 4/20/2007.(Das, Kaustuv)
17
Filed & Entered: 03/20/2007
Stipulation
Docket Text: STIPULATION AND PROPOSED ORDER Regarding Extension of Certain Deadlines by parties. (Das, Kaustuv)
18
Filed: 03/23/2007
Entered: 03/26/2007
Stipulation and Order
Docket Text: STIPULATION AND ORDER re Extention of Certain Deadlines, by Judge Thomas S. Zilly. Expert Witness Disclosure/Reports under FRCP 26(a)(2) due by 4/18/2007, Motions due by 5/4/2007. (CL, )
19
Filed & Entered: 03/30/2007
Notice of Appearance
Docket Text: NOTICE of Appearance by attorney Nigel Avilez on behalf of Defendants David Lefer, Little Brown and Company, Time Warner Book Group, Harold Evans Associates LLC, Harold Evans. (Avilez, Nigel)
20
Filed & Entered: 04/16/2007
Response to Motion
Docket Text: RESPONSE, by Plaintiff Tim Paterson, to [13] MOTION for Summary Judgment. (Attachments: # (1) Declaration of D. Michael Tomkins # (2) Declaration of Lee Hollaar # (3) Declaration of Tim Paterson # (4) Exhibit A,B, C, F, G)(Biemiller, Dietrich)
21
Filed & Entered: 04/16/2007
Sealed Document
Docket Text: SEALED DOCUMENT Exhibits D, E by Plaintiff Tim Paterson re [11] Protective Order. (Biemiller, Dietrich)
22
Filed & Entered: 04/20/2007
Reply to Response to Motion
Docket Text: REPLY, filed by Defendants David Lefer, Little Brown and Company, Time Warner Book Group, Harold Evans Associates LLC, Harold Evans, TO RESPONSE to [13] MOTION for Summary Judgment (Johnson, Bruce)
23
Filed & Entered: 04/20/2007
Declaration
Docket Text: DECLARATION of Bruce E. H. Johnson filed by Defendants David Lefer, Little Brown and Company, Time Warner Book Group, Harold Evans Associates LLC, Harold Evans re [13] MOTION for Summary Judgment (Attachments: # (1) Exhibit A-D to Johnson Declaration)(Johnson, Bruce)
24
Filed & Entered: 06/05/2007
Notice of Change of Address
Docket Text: NOTICE of Change of Address of Attorney Nigel Avilez. Filed by Defendants David Lefer, Little Brown and Company, Time Warner Book Group, Harold Evans Associates LLC, Harold Evans. (Avilez, Nigel)
25
Filed & Entered: 06/13/2007
Terminated: 07/25/2007
Motion to Exclude
Docket Text: MOTION to Exclude Defendants' Expert Witness by Plaintiff Tim Paterson. (Attachments: # (1) Exhibit A, Stipulation and Order Extending Dates# (2) Exhibit B, Defendants' Disclosure of Expert Witness # (3) Exhibit C, Report of Nutt # (4) Proposed Order)Noting Date 6/29/2007.(Biemiller, Dietrich)
--
Filed & Entered: 06/15/2007
Set/Reset Hearings
Docket Text: Set/Reset Hearings: In-court Hearing/Oral Argument set for MONDAY JULY 2, 2007 at 10:00 AM before Hon. Thomas S. Zilly. (CH)
26
Filed & Entered: 06/25/2007
Response to Motion
Docket Text: RESPONSE, by Defendants David Lefer, Little Brown and Company, Time Warner Book Group, Harold Evans Associates LLC, Harold Evans, to [25] MOTION to Exclude Defendants' Expert Witness. (Attachments: # (1) Proposed Order Proposed Order)(Johnson, Bruce)
27
Filed & Entered: 06/25/2007
Declaration
Docket Text: DECLARATION of Bruce Johnson filed by Defendants David Lefer, Little Brown and Company, Time Warner Book Group, Harold Evans Associates LLC, Harold Evans re [25] MOTION to Exclude Defendants' Expert Witness (Attachments: # (1) Exhibit A)(Johnson, Bruce)
28
Filed: 07/02/2007
Entered: 07/06/2007
Motion Hearing
Docket Text: MINUTE ENTRY for proceedings held before Judge Thomas S. Zilly - Dep Clerk: Gail Glass; Pla Counsel: Detrich Biemiller; Def Counsel: Michael Tomkins; CR: Joe Roth; Motion Hearing held on 7/2/2007 The Court hears oral argument from counsel on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, docket [13]. The Court takes the matter under advisement.(GG, )
29
Filed & Entered: 07/25/2007
Order on Motion for Summary Judgment
Docket Text: ORDER by Judge Thomas S. Zilly. The Court GRANTS [13] Dfts' Motion for Summary Judgment. (CL, )
30
Filed & Entered: 07/25/2007
Judgment by Court
Docket Text: JUDGMENT IN A CIVIL CASE/DECISION BY COURT. IT IS ORDERED AND ADJUDGED; The Court GRANTS dfts' Motion for Summary Judgment, docket no. [13], on each of pltf's claims. This case is dismissed.(CL, )


  


For History's Sake: Paterson v. Little Brown | 261 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections here
Authored by: Erwan on Wednesday, August 01 2007 @ 04:32 PM EDT
If any...

---
Erwan

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off-topic here, please
Authored by: overshoot on Wednesday, August 01 2007 @ 04:33 PM EDT
For clickier links, follow the instructions for HTML posting in red at the
bottom of the form.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Video about Kildall, DRI and MS
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, August 01 2007 @ 04:49 PM EDT
Computer Chronicles Gary Kildall Special

I recently came across this old show and was particularly struck by the moment where Gary was explaining that the o/s market was big enough for multiple players and Bill Gates interrupted with "no, there can be only one".

Some things never change..

Link to older Groklaw comment This is a great video, done as a memorial to Kildall by former co-workers. I think it goes a bit into the copyright problem with QDOS/MS-DOS that led to them forcing IBM to sell both as a remedy.

[ Reply to This | # ]

In a nutshell
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, August 01 2007 @ 04:50 PM EDT
In implementing the design of QDOS Mr Paterson admits he took his inspiration
for the basic architecture, names of calls etc from Mr Kildall's CP/M, infact,
he basically followed the handbook. There is no suggestion he actually copied
the code, but he did use the published references to guide the development of
QDOS.

For this reason, and because he subsequently sold out to Bill Gates he is Teh
Devil. We must oppose this behaviour and pillory the people responsible for
ever.

Linus Torvalds created Linux, using the UNIX manuals for his inspiration, There
is no suggestion he actually copied the code, but he did use the published
references to guide the development of Linux.

For this reason, he is Teh God, we must hail him as a great saviour, our leader
and general Good Guy (tm). He can do no wrong.

Oh, wait ... thats not right ....

[ Reply to This | # ]

Which manual?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, August 01 2007 @ 04:57 PM EDT
When Paterson says that "They published a manual", he means a manual
published by the CP/M people, not a manual published by some other part of the
QDOS team, right?

Could the compatibility or clean room defenses have applied?

-Jeff

[ Reply to This | # ]

Once again -- Thank You, "For History's Sake"
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, August 01 2007 @ 05:21 PM EDT
PJ,

Once again you have created a wonderful resource, both for current readers and
the future, by assembling this comprehensive commentary with resources and
notes.

I can't imagine another journalist or venue that could have done this.

"An admirer"

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Man Who Could Have Been Bill Gates [BW]
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Wednesday, August 01 2007 @ 05:41 PM EDT
Ahem.

I remember when this book was news. Please see The Man Who Could Have Been Bill Gates.

BusinessWeek
OCTOBER 25, 2004
"A new book says Gates got the rewards due Gary Kildall. What's the real story?"
By Steve Hamm in New York and Jay Greene in Seattle

"…book says Gates got the rewards due Gary Kildall."
This link is something I noted back in 2004, and added to the bottom of my personal link page, FOSS Advocacy and Software Problems.

---
"You interact with a computer differently when you can trust it to be reliable." --from a blog comment, 2007-07

[ Reply to This | # ]

For History's Sake: Paterson v. Little Brown
Authored by: jplatt39 on Wednesday, August 01 2007 @ 05:50 PM EDT
Personally, I think folks *should* build on each others' software and share and share alike, because software is knowledge, and shared knowledge is a good thing.

Well of course. And it just seems odd to me that so many of these recent suits seem to have come from people you would not expect to have much to lose from the actual statements. Where others see conspiracy I'm seeing a dumbing down.

Thank you, PJ.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • History indeed - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, August 01 2007 @ 09:14 PM EDT
CP/M is Available for No Cost, GEM is GPL
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, August 01 2007 @ 06:40 PM EDT
CP/M in binary form and with some source code is available for non-commercial personal use. The Unofficial CP/M Web site. This is under a license from the current owner (Linneo). Some of the source code was lost long ago, so some software is available only as binaries.

Source code for GEM (A GUI similar in concept to the original MS-Windows) was released under GPL by Caldera (yes, that Caldera) some time around 1999. This is available at another site.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Another tail of paternity
Authored by: DannyB on Wednesday, August 01 2007 @ 06:45 PM EDT
Another tall tale of paternity from the past...


Linus the author? Can't be!
No matter that facts don't agree.
It is clear that Linux,
is derrived from Minix!
Ken Brown's a paid expert you see.

---
The price of freedom is eternal litigation.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Interesting
Authored by: LocoYokel on Wednesday, August 01 2007 @ 08:52 PM EDT
As I sit here with the original binder holding the manuals and disks for CP/M
V1.1 for the IBM PC and PC XT with copyright and production dates of 1983
printed on them. With the original box sitting on the desk beside me. I don't
even know if the disks are still good (probably not though) but I do still have
the entire kit.

The box and binder is water stained from living in an apartment that had leaking
foundations and I don't even know why I still have the thing. It must just be
the geekiness factor.

---
Waiting for the games I play to be released in Linux, or a decent Windows
emulator, to switch entirely.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Standing on the shoulders of giants
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, August 01 2007 @ 09:31 PM EDT
“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”.

Today we are still standing on Gary Kildall's shoulders. He may have been buried under withered leaves which have accumulated for more than thirty years. But like a breeze this lawsuit (and the reporting about it) have blown away the dust. And there he is.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Thanks Gary Kildall
Authored by: grouch on Wednesday, August 01 2007 @ 10:46 PM EDT
Dr. Kildall left us too soon, but he changed all our lives while he was here.

Every PC owner owes Gary a debt of gratitude. Bill Gates and Microsoft owe him more than anyone else. Gary was the first person to interface a disk system to a microcomputer and create an operating system for it. He changed what had previously been a circuit designed for process control applications into a fully functional computer. Microcomputers now did tasks previously done only on minicomputers and mainframes. The world changed dramatically because of his work.

-- The Gary Kildall Legacy, by Sol Libes

I'm really glad to see PJ put some more of the CP/M history on Groklaw. Anyone who experienced the explosive and exciting growth of "microcomputers" during the days of CP/M can appreciate how much of a dumbing-down that MSDOS represented. Personal computing development seemed to go from racing in all directions to plodding along a controlled, pre-packaged path when the PC-compatible consolidated the market. For me, it didn't regain the personal aspect until Linux was paired with GNU. Discovering free (libre) software was like finding where the party had been transferred.

There were archives of free software (some free as in speech, some only free as in beer) for CP/M. These contained works that were amazing in their compactness, robustness, elegance and ability to maximize limited computer resources. Users of modern free software for GNU/Linux and the BSDs will immediately recognize those shared qualities. Even non-free software for CP/M outperformed MSDOS and MS Windows software "applications" for years. (PerfectWriter, which came bundled with Kaypro computers and, incidentally, uses the same basic key commands as Emacs, could open and edit larger documents in 64K of RAM that MS Word could in 2MB of RAM, on the first PC that I owned).

It is heartening to see the growth of free operating systems. They feel more connected to the hectic days of early personal computing than does the nearly stagnant branch of the quick and dirty clone that we've been following for too many years. Maybe the Dark Ages of computing that Microsoft has imposed on us for so long is truly ending. I still encounter people who say they "wouldn't know how to turn a computer on", but I'm also running into more and more people who are excited by having personal control of their computers restored to them by free software. Folks seem to prefer being enabled to be creative over being controlled.

---
-- grouch

"People aren't as dumb as Microsoft needs them to be."
--PJ, May 2007

[ Reply to This | # ]

Nutt's Expert Report
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, August 01 2007 @ 11:24 PM EDT
"12. Mr. Paterson is unable to prove that 86-DOS did not copy algorithms,
data structures, and other trade secrets and confidential information
incorporated in the CP/M program."

I thought that in this country, you don't have to prove your innocence.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Vista Downgrade -- no kidding
Authored by: Greybeard2 on Thursday, August 02 2007 @ 09:27 AM EDT
Here's an interesting twist to the Vista sales story. I ordered a refurbished
Dell Optiplex with "Windows XP Pro with Vista Ultimate License"

The Acknowledgment email said:

Genuine Windows XP Pro with Vista Ultimate License

The Confirmation email said:

1 Genuine Windows XP Pro with Vista Ultimate License

But the actual order spec posted to my Dell Account said:

1 XN205 Module,Label,MicroSoft,Vista Downgrade,BSC,DT $0.01

After 20 phone minutes with Dell I can't get an explanation: they wanted me to
talk to a technician about a desktop that is still sitting in a Round Rock
warehouse.

Finally I said look, when I plug this machine in and turn it on --- what will it
say on the screen?

There was a loooong pause --- then a subdued reply: "Vista. But the
technician can explain to you how to install XP Pro"

So there you have it, every MS critics dream: The Vista Downgrade.

Dell makes GREAT computers, I've used them for years --- but it is getting tough
to get their product.

[ Reply to This | # ]

I knew Gary
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, August 02 2007 @ 07:57 PM EDT
Back when the only way one could get CP/M was as the opsys in an expensive
system from Intel used to develop code to embed the original 4004, 8008, 8080
and suchlike. The hardware system was "a piece of junk" and so we (a
beltway bandit outfit doing work for various agencies) were on the phone with
him a few times to get things working. Yeah, back then there weren't too many
of us systems programmers and you really got a competant person on the phone
when you called. Who else would they have handed the phone to anyway?

Gary was a good guy. He deserves both more and less credit than he gets (not
that he cares anymore, that interesting death just after the MS talks fell
through). Gary was crusty and brilliant both. At the time, our own code was
re-entrant, fully interrupt driven and so on, and we urged him to take his stuff
to that level. His response was more or less "It's too hard and Intel
won't pay for it".

Remember where he worked at the time. We offered free help - he could copy our
code where it helped and so on. No good. Intel at the time was not a
cooperative company (and in fact trademarked things like the mnemonic for
"ADD", speaking of dumb IP stuff) and they kept Gary really busy. The
oral history spoken here seems to begin somewhat after this time, which is why I
post.

Think how different the world would be today if Windows had been built on a
really good base! (nowadays it's OS2->NT->whatever, with a different set
of problems)

I'm Doug Coulter (sometimes have an account here) and the other person who could
back this up is Steve Kenyon, whom I've lost touch with, as we both did
substantial work with Gary back in the days when he worked at Intel.

He told us the reason for the $. It's simple and stupid. He didn't like his
bosses all that well. He didn't want his labor of love perverted into a
business system that made them millions (big money in the day) while he was
underpaid, so he made it very difficult to ever print a dollar sign, as using it
for the system string terminator will do. There was still a way, but it wasn't
widely documented (length byte with no terminator needed for one function, and a
special function that would print any one character).

In short, Gary is the inventor of the FAT file system, warts and all -- you
know, that thing MS got royalties from all the camera makers for after they
patented prior art they didn't develop. No one else came up with it, that was
*all* Gary with no help from anyone. Remember at the time an 8" floppy was
big as uP's went, with their 8-24k of memory and a simple compiler for ASM at
most. So one has to put the limitations of FAT into perspective.

When the Kaypro came out with a suspiciously identical opsys including name, we
got our hands on the source (don't remember how) and indeed it was Gary's stuff,
comments and all. He'd given us the source to the original as a way to do the
early version of FOSS -- he was hoping for and got some bug fixes from us. All
this probably without permission from Intel.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • I knew Gary - Authored by: PJ on Thursday, August 02 2007 @ 11:19 PM EDT
    • I knew Gary - Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, August 05 2007 @ 02:51 PM EDT
  • Kaypro -- suspicous? How? - Authored by: grouch on Friday, August 03 2007 @ 08:50 AM EDT
  • I knew Gary - Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 04 2007 @ 10:04 AM EDT
  • I knew Gary - Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, August 05 2007 @ 12:03 PM EDT
For History's Sake: Paterson v. Little Brown
Authored by: newbury on Friday, August 03 2007 @ 12:01 PM EDT
"Paterson worked with source code for CP/M systems both for the SCP
Zebra S-100 machines and at Microsoft on the CP/M they produced on the MS Z80
Softcard for the Apple ][, both companies being full DRI OEM developers with
all
the internal tools and source from DRI."

I bought my first computer just after Christmas 1979: an Apple ][, with a MS Z80
card. It ran CP/M.

At that time, MS was not yet based in Redmond (Arizona???). Not many people know
that MS *made hardware* in the beginning, but that hardware was a base on which
to run the MS Basic which BG started with. It was a few years later that he got
the invite to talk to IBM.

And, IIRC, his MOTHER was a Director of IBM at the time. I wonder if he could
have arranged for the opportunity of talking to IBM without that golden key.
Because we now know he did NOT yet have the OS which he contracted to provide.

BG: As Churchill said of Napoleon...'intelligent, a brilliant strategist and
tactician and completely amoral'.

Ancient History:
Anyone Remember?
WordPerfect
Electric Pencil
Magic Wand
NEC Diablo 620 spin-writer
Xerox 820......?


[ Reply to This | # ]

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