Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 31st Jul 2017 21:54 UTC
IBM

Since I abused the first part in Ars' two-parter on the history of the IBM PC for my own selfish purposes, it's only fair to use the publication of part two to actually talk about the subject matter at hand.

In November 1979, Microsoft's frequent partner Seattle Computer Products released a standalone Intel 8086 motherboard for hardcore hobbyists and computer manufacturers looking to experiment with this new and very powerful CPU. The 8086 was closely related to the 8088 that IBM chose for the PC; the latter was a cost-reduced version of the former, an 8-bit/16-bit hybrid chip rather than a pure 16-bit like the 8086.

IBM opted for the less powerful 8088 partly to control costs, but also to allow the use of certain hardware that required the 8-bit external data bus found on the 8088. But perhaps the biggest consideration stemmed, as happens so often, from the marketing department rather than engineering. The 8086 was such a powerful chip that an IBM PC so equipped might convince some customers to choose it in lieu of IBM's own larger systems; IBM wanted to take business from other PC manufacturers, not from their own other divisions.

The IBM PC and its compatibles changed the computing landscape more than any other platform, and to this day it remains the archetype of what people think of when they think of "computer". While the archetypal computer is surely changing into a laptop or even a smartphone, they've got a long way to go before they push the PC out of the collective consciousness as the "default" computer.

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"Digital"
by Anachronda on Mon 31st Jul 2017 22:32 UTC
Anachronda
Member since:
2007-04-18

Don't have a login over there (had one, it seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle somewhere, haven't made another), I'll just complain here.

The articles constantly refer to Digital Research as "Digital". Although there *was* a company commonly called "Digital" at the time, it sure wasn't Digital Research.

Reply Score: 1

RE: "Digital"
by Drumhellar on Tue 1st Aug 2017 07:13 UTC in reply to ""Digital""
Drumhellar Member since:
2005-07-12

That shouldn't warrant a complaint. In both articles, the first mention uses the full name, Digital Research. Subsequent mentions used a shorter version.

This is actually an extremely common thing to do in journalism, and it would actually look out of place if they DIDN'T do this.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: "Digital"
by phoenix on Wed 2nd Aug 2017 19:56 UTC in reply to "RE: "Digital""
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

That shouldn't warrant a complaint.


Yes, it should, as it's horribly inaccurate. Digital is a trademark of DEC and is not related to Digital Research at all.

If you want to shorten it for use later in the article, the correct/accurate way to do so would be to use DR instead.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: "Digital"
by Drumhellar on Wed 2nd Aug 2017 20:09 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: "Digital""
Drumhellar Member since:
2005-07-12

Stylistically, a complete word is preferable to an abbreviation. Shortening it to a single word is perfectly acceptable, even if it happens to be the trademark of another company, especially since that other company isn't being discussed at all in the article.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: "Digital"
by Alfman on Thu 3rd Aug 2017 13:57 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: "Digital""
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Drumhellar,

Stylistically, a complete word is preferable to an abbreviation. Shortening it to a single word is perfectly acceptable, even if it happens to be the trademark of another company, especially since that other company isn't being discussed at all in the article.


I don't think any abbreviation was necessary, but to the extent it was going to be abbreviated to the name of another company it should have been done explicitly to avoid ambiguity and potential confusion.

That said, the substance of the article is very informative and I'm glad the author wrote it.

Reply Score: 2

RE: "Digital"
by unclefester on Wed 2nd Aug 2017 07:51 UTC in reply to ""Digital""
unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13


The articles constantly refer to Digital Research as "Digital". Although there *was* a company commonly called "Digital" at the time, it sure wasn't Digital Research.


AFAIK the original name was Intergalactic Digital Research. Gary Kildare either had a big ego or a bizarre sense of humour.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: "Digital"
by Kochise on Wed 2nd Aug 2017 11:51 UTC in reply to "RE: "Digital""
Kochise Member since:
2006-03-03

Or he simply anticipated, but actually chose the wrong brand name :

http://assets1.ignimgs.com/2017/05/11/bladerunner2049comparison-2-1...

And also died prematurely. That didn't helped much into the stellar expansion of his company.

Reply Score: 2

OS/8, RT-11, and CP/M
by Anachronda on Mon 31st Jul 2017 22:34 UTC
Anachronda
Member since:
2007-04-18

Oh, yeah. And as someone who has used OS/8, written device drivers for RT-11 (including for disks), and written BIOSes for CP/M, I can confidently state that no, CP/M is not a cheap knockoff of RT-11 or OS/8.

(edited to mention it also not being a cheap knockoff of OS/8)

Edited 2017-07-31 22:35 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: OS/8, RT-11, and CP/M
by Doc Pain on Tue 1st Aug 2017 00:41 UTC in reply to "OS/8, RT-11, and CP/M"
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

I can confidently state that no, CP/M is not a cheap knockoff of RT-11 or OS/8.


Sadly the article doesn't mention that some specific inspiration for CP/M came from CP/CMS (and no, the "CP" in both abbreviations is not just a crazy coincidence, it actually means the same - "control program" - here: for microcomputers). CP/CMS is a part of the operating system CMS that commonly ran under the control of the VM operating system on IBM mainframes of the /370 era and its successors (today: z/VM).

The "drive letters" that were an important feature of CP/M were inspired by the concept of the "minidisks" of CP/CMS - a convenient way to address storage that was some allocated "disk space somewhere" (files managed by VM) with a single letter. The system administrator could predefine certain "letters", and the user could also assign his own ones, according to his permissions within the system.

The OS represented the (virtual) machine through a terminal to the user in a manner that we would today think of as a "personal computer" combined with "cloud storage" (rather than a card-oriented batch processing system), and the "drive letters" also have survived... ;-)

Reply Score: 4

Article accuracy
by Alfman on Tue 1st Aug 2017 01:00 UTC
Alfman
Member since:
2011-01-28

On the other hand, Paterson freely admits that he pulled out his CP/M reference manual and duplicated each of its API calls one by one. On the other other hand, and while it may not have reflected much originality or creative thinking, what he did was pretty clearly legal even by the standards of today. Courts have ruled again and again that APIs cannot be copyrighted, only specific implementations thereof, and that reverse engineering is therefore allowed.



Ah yes, back in the day we could actually take someone else's API and build clones of it. Try it today and you could be served with a million or billion dollar lawsuit ;)

For an article dated 2017, I'm surprised this author seems to be blissfully unaware of the notorious API copyright lawsuits of the past few years. Courts in the US today have found that APIs are copyrighted and you will be found to infringe (like google) unless your lawyers succeed in arguing your case for a fair use exception (like google). I guess these events were so traumatic the author could have blocked them from his memory, haha.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Article accuracy
by JimB on Tue 1st Aug 2017 13:07 UTC in reply to "Article accuracy"
JimB Member since:
2006-12-29

The article was originally published on the author's website in 2012. Ars Technica is republishing this. You can read the author's original work here: http://www.filfre.net/

I highly recommend the site.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Article accuracy
by Alfman on Tue 1st Aug 2017 14:11 UTC in reply to "RE: Article accuracy"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

The article was originally published on the author's website in 2012. Ars Technica is republishing this. You can read the author's original work here: http://www.filfre.net/

I highly recommend the site.



Going point! I had no idea it wasn't original arstechnica content. I used the arstechnica date because Thom attributed it to arstechnica. Hell even the arstechnica website itself falsely claims "This post originated on Ars Technica UK".

They link to the author's website but not to the article. The true source went by a different title:
http://www.filfre.net/2012/05/the-ibm-pc-part-3/

That is interesting and now it makes sense why the author was oblivious to the lawsuit ;)

Reply Score: 2