Did Microsoft steal DOS from CP/M?

Did Microsoft steal DOS from CP/M?

Did Microsoft steal DOS from CP/M? There’s $100,000 in it for you if you can prove they did.

Digital forensics consultant Bob Zeidman still says no. I’ve written about him before. But the rumors persist, hence the reward. So how would one go about claiming it?

Start with what we know.

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Here we go again. Net neutrality is not Obamacare either.

To nobody’s particular surpise, yesterday president Barack Obama endorsed a form of net neutrality. And immediately, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) came out swinging against it, calling it, “Obamacare for the Internet.”

Sen. Cruz appears to have either failed to read, or refused to read, the four-point proposal, which is short and simple enough to fit on an index card, if not a business card. He also failed to discuss the alternative–and there is a perfectly fair alternative to net neutrality.

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Gary Kildall and what might have been

Gary Kildall and what might have been

I didn’t have time to write everything I wanted to write yesterday, so I’m going to revisit Bill Gates and Gary Kildall today. Bill Gates’ side of the DOS story is relatively well documented in his biographies: Gates referred IBM to Gary Kildall, who for whatever reason was less comfortable working with IBM than Gates was. And there was an airplane involved, though what Kildall was doing in the airplane and why varies. By some accounts he was meeting another client, and by other accounts it was a joyride. IBM in turn came back to Gates, who had a friend of a friend who was cloning CP/M for the 8086, so Microsoft bought the clone for $50,000, cleaned it up a little, and delivered it to IBM while turning a huge profit. Bill Gates became Bill Gates, and Kildall and his company, Digital Research, slowly faded away.

The victors usually get to write the history. I’ve tried several times over the years to find Kildall’s side of the story. I first went looking sometime in 1996 or so, for a feature story about Internet misinformation I wrote for the Columbia Missourian‘s Sunday magazine. For some reason, every five years or so I end up chasing the story down again.
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Greenberg’s Marx Trains Pocket Price Guide, 9th edition: A review

I received my copy of the new 9th edition of the Greenberg Pocket Price Guide for Marx trains this past weekend. Marx used to print on its packages, “One of the many Marx toys. Have you all of them?” This book won’t completely answer that question, but at the very least, it gives you a start, and helps you avoid paying too much for the ones you don’t have yet.

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So the Department of Homeland Security is now the copyright police?

The Department of Homeland Security just shut down a Star Wars-hosting Bittorrent site.

What does copyright infringement have to do with terrorism?People downloading the newest installment of Star Wars (or buying bootleg DVDs) is hardly a threat to national security.

Actually I’m kind of wondering if it’s a threat to much of anything. Think about it: The people who grew up with the franchise are going to go see it in the theaters so they can see it on the big screen. I know I went and saw Episodes I and II in the theater twice each. I only go to the movies once every couple of months, so for someone like me to see both of those movies twice is something. Most people my age saw them a lot more than that.

My point is, the people who download Revenge of the Sith or buy an illegal DVD are going to see it in the theater anyway, and they’re probably going to see it a lot of times. And when the legitimate Episode III DVDs come out, they’re going to buy those two. And when the collector’s edition of the trilogy, and the extra-special collector’s edition of both trilogies come out, they’re the people most likely to buy those too. George Lucas is going to get plenty of opportunities to sell this movie thrice.

I know it’s illegal. The ethics are questionable–I have a lot less problem with people copying it if they’re going to buy the legitimate copy anyway once it’s available. But is this going to cause measurable damage to a multi-billion-dollar franchise? No.

And the Department of Homeland Security’s involvement just makes it look more like Homeland Security is more about Big Brother than it is about stopping terrorists.

If Star Wars is a big enough crisis that it shows up on these guys’ radar, then that’s a sign to me that it’s time for the department to be rethinking its relevance. Nobody is going to die because somebody saw Star Wars without paying for it.

The government needs to get its priorities straight.

Make Linux look like Windows XP

I can’t say I discovered this–I saw a reference to it in User Friendly this past week–but there’s now an XP-lookalike window manager for Linux called XPDE.

A quick look at the screenshots shows it’s a pretty convincing clone. But is it legal?The authors maintain its legality, because it uses no Microsoft code, mentions no Microsoft trademarks, and uses no Microsoft icons. I wish them well, but there is precedent for a copyright infringement anyway.

Some 20 years ago, the best-selling spreadsheet (and perhaps best-known piece of software in the world) was Lotus 1-2-3. It was expensive. In 1985, microcomputer pioneer Adam Osborne began predicting the emergence of Lotus 1-2-3 clones priced under $100. The theory was, if one could clone the IBM PC and undercut IBM’s price, why couldn’t the same technique be used to clone expensive software and undercut it in price as well?

Osborne had insider knowledge, being the president of his own software company. He released a Lotus 1-2-3 clone himself, and in 1987, Lotus sued him. Borland also incorporated Lotus 1-2-3’s menu structure into its own spreadsheet product, Quattro Pro. Lotus won its case against Osborne’s Paperback Software, with a court finding Paperback in violation of Lotus’ copyright, and Osborne disappeared into obscurity in disgust. Borland was more successful, winning its case against Lotus on appeal. But it took six years to do it, during which both companies’ products were eclipsed in the marketplace by Microsoft Excel.

So while XPDE may technically be legal, if I were involved in the project, I would be afraid of being litigated into oblivion.

But in the meantime, if you want or need a Windows-like interface for your Linux box, you can download XPDE.

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