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Technology CompaniesIntelBest account ever of the early IBM PC-slash-DOS-slash-CP/M days

Best account ever of the early IBM PC-slash-DOS-slash-CP/M days

This video by Robert Scoble of Tom Rolander (of Digitial Research fame) has to be the best first-hand account of the story behind the OS included on the first IBM PCs.

If you’ve heard the stories about how Digital Research’s Gary Kildall lost out on one of the biggest business opportunities in recent times because he wanted to fly a plane instead of meeting with IBM or that he refused to meet with IBM because of an NDA, then you’ve got to watch this interview. The stories wrong and some very important ways. To hear Tom Rolander tell it, in large part the failure of Digital Research’s CP/M came down to price–and I’d also add in their belief that the IBM PC would fail.

What’s so fascinating about Tom’s account is that it highlights how established, successful businesses can have difficulty adapting to expanding business opportunities—opportunities that challenge existing cost structures.

We’ve seen a similar challenge and churning going on over the last decade plus with the Internet. It’s changed the cost structure of distributing information, of managing services, or of what it means to stay in contact with others or to communicate with them. Costs are being driven down.

Amazing video. You have to watch it.

Loren Heiny (1961 - 2010) was a software developer and author of several computer language textbooks. He graduated from Arizona State University in computer science. His first love was robotics.

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