[TUHS] Algol68 vs. C at Bell Labs

Dan Cross crossd at gmail.com
Fri Jul 1 05:51:58 AEST 2016


On Thu, Jun 30, 2016 at 3:21 PM, Clem Cole <clemc at ccc.com> wrote:
>
> 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).
>

Yeah...I guess you are right.

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,
>

That's an excellent point.

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,
>

I suspect that, at the end of the day, this is the real reason for the
success of the PC. It's easy, as an engineer, to second-guess it and ask
why it couldn't have been "more" than it was, but I suspect a business
person would look at me funny. From a business perspective, it was wildly
successful (until the clone market undercut IBM so much they got out of the
PC business altogether). In economics vs technology, economics almost
always wins.

        - Dan C.


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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