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computer
from scratch,
they would buy components off the shelf
and assemble them
what in IBM speak was called 'open
architecture.'
IBM never did this.
Two weeks later Bill proposed his heresy
to the Chairman.
- And frankly this is it.
- The key decisions were to go with
an open architecture,
- non IBM technology, non IBM software,
non IBM sales and non IBM service.
- And we probably spent a full half of the
presentation
- carrying the corporate management committee
into this concept.
- Because this was a new concept for IBM
at that point.
Was it a hard sell?
- Mr. Carey bought it. And as result of him
buying it, we got through it.
With the backing of the chairman,
Bill and his team
then set out to break all the IBM rules and
go for a record.
- We'll put it in the IBM section.
Once IBM decided to do a personal computer
and to do it in a year, they couldn't really
design anything,
they just had to slap it together, so that's
what we'll do.
You have a central processing unit and eh...
let's see...
you need a monitor or display and...
a keyboard.
OK: a PC, except it's not, there's something
missing.
Time for the Cringely crash course in
elementary computing.
A PC is a boxful of electronic switches,
a piece of hardware.
It's useless until you tell it what to do.
It requires a program of instructions...
that's software.
Every PC requires at least two essential bits of
software in order to work at all.
First it requires a computer language.
That's what you type in to give instructions
to the computer.
To tell it what to do.
Remember it was a computer language
called BASIC
that Paul Allen and Bill Gates adapted to the
Altair...the first PC.
The other bit of software that's required is called
an operating system
and that's the internal traffic cop that tells
the computer itself
how the keyboard is connected to the screen
or how to store files on a floppy disk
instead of just losing them when you turn off the
PC at the end of the day.
Operating systems tend to have boring
unfriendly names
like UNIX and CPM and MS-DOS but, though
they may be boring,
it's an operating system that made Bill Gates
the richest man in the world.
And the story of how that came about is, well,
pretty interesting.
So the contest begins.
Who would IBM buy their software from?
Let's meet the two contenders: the late
Gary Kildall, then aged 39,
a computer Ph.D., and a 24 year old Harvard
drop-out - Bill Gates.
By the time IBM came calling in 1980,
Bill Gates and his small company Microsoft
was the biggest supplier
of computer languages in the fledgling
PC industry.
(Commercial)
- Many different computer manufacturers,
- are making the CPM Operating System standard
on most models.
For their operating system, though,
the logical guy for the IBMers to see was
Gary Kildall.
He ran a company modestly called
'Interglactic Digital Research.'
Gary had invented the PC's first operating system
called CP/M.
He had already sold 600,000 of them, so he was
the big cheese of operating systems.
- In the early 70s I had a need for an
operating system myself
- and eh it was a very natural thing to write
- and it turns out other people had a need for
an operating system like that and so
- eh it was a very natural thing I wrote it for my own
use and then started selling it.
In Gary's mind it was the dominant thing and
it would always be the dominant
'cos, you know,  Bill did languages and Gary did
operating systems
and he really honestly believed that would
never change.
But what would change the balance of power
in this young industry
was the characters of the two protagonists.
- So I knew Gary back when he was an assistant
professor
- at Monterrey Post Grad School and I was simply
a grad student.
- And went down, sat in his hot tub, smoked dope
with him and thoroughly enjoyed it all,
- and commiserated and talked nerd stuff.
- He liked playing with gadgets, just like Woz

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