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Compaq Deskpro 386

The Compaq Deskpro 386, announced in September 1986, was a landmark IBM PC compatible computer. The first fully 32-bit PC based on the Intel 386, its release took the leadership of the PC ecosystem away from IBM, and Compaq became the leader.

Compaq was no upstart by 1986. Its Compaq Portable was a runaway success earlier in the decade, and Compaq was a darling of the industry. The Deskpro 386 solidified Compaq’s position as an industry innovator.

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What happened to GEM?

GEM was an early GUI for the IBM PC and compatibles and, later, the Atari ST, developed by Digital Research, the developers of CP/M and, later, DR-DOS. (Digital Equipment Corporation was a different company.) So what was it, and what happened to GEM?

It was very similar to the Apple Lisa, and Apple saw it as a Lisa/Macintosh ripoff and sued. While elements of GEM did indeed resemble the Lisa, Digital Research actually hired several developers from Xerox PARC.

DRI demonstrated the 8086 version of GEM at COMDEX in 1984, and shipped it on 28 February 1985, beating Windows 1.0 to market by nearly 9 months.
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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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Lionel bankruptcy

It was all over the news when it happened. Lionel, the train maker, filed Chapter 11 on Nov 16, 2004. But a lot of the news stories got some critical details wrong. It’s not the first time a Lionel bankruptcy confused people.

Lionel has been bankrupt before, but the company has changed ownership numerous times so it’s not the same legal entity that went bankrupt in the 1930s and 1960s. There have also been numerous rumors about bankruptcy after 2004. These are usually dealers trying to create artificial demand to clear inventory.

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What pop singer is your OS?

Using Unix is the computing equivalent of listening only to music by David Cassidy.
–Unix pioneer (and Plan 9 co-creator) Rob Pike on Slashdot

Ah, the questions that inspires…If Unix is David Cassidy, then what’s Windows?

I nominate Britney Spears. She and her management can’t decide what her name is, she’s tempermental, unstable, lacks talent… You can have a heyday with that analogy.

Is Mac OS the Grateful Dead? Hmm…. There’s not only that “Flower Power” Imac, there’s also that cult following…

Amiga OS must be the Velvet Underground. Ahead of its time, obscure but not so obscure that nobody has heard of it, influenced virtually everything that came after it, and 20 years later, lots of things still haven’t completely caught up…

SCO obviously wants us to think Linux is Milli Vanilli.

So which OS has to be New Kids on the Block? Vanilla Ice? MC Hammer? David Hasselhof?

Darl\’s getting a blog…

For those of you who don’t know, SCO is tired of Groklaw and setting up its own blog, (not yet active; it goes live Nov. 1) to provide a counterpoint.

SCO, for the uninitiated, is a software company turned litigation company whose lawsuits against the likes of IBM, Novell, Red Hat, Daimler Chrysler and Autozone aren’t doing well.SCO says they’re going to answer questions from the public. I have a few questions they can answer.

Their stock was trading at or around $50 a share during the past year, but the share price is currently near $3. What are they going to do about their dwindling stock price?

Is SCO in danger of being delisted?

What sources of revenue does SCO have?

Is Darl McBride buying or selling SCO stock right now?

When SCO goes out of business next year, what company will Darl McBride and his friends go to? I still owe about $10,000 on my Honda and I’m realizing now that if I had shorted $5,000 worth of SCO stock a year ago, I would have nearly doubled my money by now. Investment opportunities like that don’t come along every day, so I’d like to find the next one.

Can I see a line of the code that IBM stole? One line would suffice. I would prefer it not include the strings “#include” and “stdio.h”.

Why November 1? Why tease us? Why not just start writing and then publicize it? That’s what I did, and I get lots of traffic. Surely not as much as SCO does though. I’m sure the traffic they receive from disgruntled sysadmins redirecting Nimda and similar requests to dwarfs mine. And Yahoo’s.