[TUHS] Algol68 vs. C at Bell Labs

Clem Cole clemc at ccc.com
Fri Jul 1 05:21:58 AEST 2016


On Thu, Jun 30, 2016 at 2:31 PM, Dan Cross <crossd at gmail.com> wrote:


> ​...​
> why didn't they have a more capable kernel than MS-DOS?
>
​I don't think they cared. or felt it was needed at the time (I disagreed
then and still do).




> Surely a motivated team could have produced a floppy-only system capable
> of running multiple processes, etc. It wouldn't be Unix, it wouldn't even
> necessarily be a clone of Unix, but it could have been something better
> than MS-DOS.
>
​As Marc pointed out.  The PC was fabulously successful for what it was
designed to be.  They wanted something the run VisiCalc and later a word
processor for corporate America.   We are programmers saw it >>could<< have
been more capable, but they did not really care.   The system way, way out
did what it was planned.   So it's hard to tell folks that did something
bad.

​... ​
> I'm not sure I would assert that their success was due to good technical
> decisions;
>
​exactly.​



> ​...
>  The IBM brand added de facto legitimacy to the personal computer in the
> workplace at a critical time when it was just starting to make inroads into
> business: surely their success had a lot more to do with that than choosing
> to use the 8088 and DOS?
>
​Indeed.​

Although I think a side story is that you did not mention is that IBM
allowed the system to be cloned.  Remember at this same time, Apple out
Franklin computer out of business for cloning the Apple II.    Because the
PC became a standard of sort, because their were choices in getting lower
cost systems, not just buying from IBM.   That ended top cementing it,




> The VHS vs. Betamax argument may apply here.
>
​Maybe - I think of it in terms of economics.​     PCs and DOS
"won" because they were cheaper than any other solution to the a similar
task and it was good enough,   Like VHS/Betamax it was good enough for
many, many people - so economics drove the standard.  But also at the time,
Apple, who had a better product and actually was more polished than MS-DOS
was, was >>perceived<< as being for home use and DOS for business.   IBM
and MSFT and Intel did a great job of convincing people of that idea.   Add
to it that it was cheaper, it was a hard order to get businesses to
consider Macs.

Which is different from Betamax....   business (TV stations/professionals
et al) picked the "better" system.    But they did not here, they picked
the cheap one no matter what.

Clem
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