[TUHS] Algol68 vs. C at Bell Labs

Marc Rochkind rochkind at basepath.com
Fri Jul 1 11:21:52 AEST 2016


thanks for these comments... lots of interesting stuff

On Thursday, June 30, 2016, Clem Cole <clemc at ccc.com> wrote:

> Marc,
>
> I mostly agree but you have a little history out of order.  Apple and
> Franklin really are important here.  More inline...
>
> On Thu, Jun 30, 2016 at 7:16 PM, Marc Rochkind <rochkind at basepath.com
> <javascript:_e(%7B%7D,'cvml','rochkind at basepath.com');>> wrote:
>
>> Clem Cole: "IBM allowed the system to be cloned"
>>
>> I never looked at it that way. To discourage cloning, IBM published and
>> copyrighted the BIOS source code.
>>
> ​Hang on that it was not quite that simple.   In fact IBM did publish
> everything because that was what all the PC folks did at the time.   As did
> IBM themselves in their mainframes.   Remember when the PC was originally
> developed, Judge Green has not yet left IBM from its bondage.​   So IBM was
> very careful in those days to follow industry norms.   The PC folks (like
> Apple, Altair, Cromemco et al) published the schematics and the ROM
> listings.  The OS's and higher level tools were closed but the rest tended
> to be generally available so IBM followed suit.
>
>
>
>
>
>> ​....​
>>  A few outfits sprang up to do clean-room BIOS clones, including an
>> outfit called Phoenix, which had the best. Compaq's internal BIOS was also
>> excellent.
>>
> ​This post the Franklin Computer case.​  Clones of Apple II sprung up,
> with CPU motherboards coming from Taiwan.   Hey I made an Apple II clone,
> as well as an Xerox 820 clone in those days myself (I may still have the
> later).
>
> Franklin Computer of Philadelphia started to sell their Apple II to run
> Visacalc - which was the "killer app" of the day (note a theme here).  Jobs
> did not like it and took them to court.  I actually knew the main attorney
> for Franklin at the time (one of the few big cases he even lost).   Apple
> won because it was the contents of the ROM (bit for bit) that was found to
> be identical.   The question became could you "copyright" the bits. [There
> is a whole side discussion about what the memory chip guys of that day did
> to try to keep people from copying them BTW].
>
> Anyway, once that became case law, the concept of a "clean room" was
> created.  As you say, Phoenix did a remarkable job.   BTW:  in an
> interested side note, years later, IBM sold Phoenix its BIOS and started to
> use theirs when the Phoenix BIOS became the gold standard.
>
>
>
>>
>> As for the computer hardware, it was just Intel parts
>>
> ​Motorola, WD, and TI parts originally.​
>
>
>
>
>> For the clones, no copyrighted code was used, the programmers had never
>> seen the code, and the function of the BIOS wasn't copyrightable. So, IBM
>> really had no way to prevent the clones.
>>
> ​If they had not published the original material, I suspect it would have
> been far, far harder and less attractive.   But also remember, clone in the
> IBM land was already around.  Amdahl was selling like hot cakes.  IBM had
> learned that with the clone market, they sold more of their own product.
> It was an interesting business view.   The pie was getting bigger faster,
> so they got a larger amount of pie, even though the percentage of the pie
> got smaller.​  So IBM made more money.
>
> This was a lesson a lot of companies, particularly computer firms, never
> quite understood.   Having a weak, buy alive competitor is better than no
> competition.
>
>
>
>
>>
>>
>> There were a lot of PCs in the early 1980s that weren't clones.
>>
> ​Absolutely.​  But if the OS has been reasonable and had be able to hide
> the differences (and you not be able to go directly to HW addresses etc..)
> this would have been less of an issue.
>
>
>
>
>> ​...
>> DEC, which had their own weird version of a PC, was the worst.
>>
> ​No doubt.​
>
>
>
>> One might ask why we had such a primitive system with 384K, when UNIX had
>> been developed over 10 years before on a smaller system. Simple: UNIX had
>> swapping.
>>
> ​Truth is folks built systems that swapped to floppies (and cassette tape
> et al) in those days.  Originally Magix was going to be in that same camp
> when it was a "G-job" by Roger and myself.  When our boss funded its the
> first thing we did was add a 10M disk.​
>
>
>
>
>> ​... ​
>> To get the screen speed on a PC, the application had to own the hardware.
>>
> ​That was a deficiency of the PC HW design.   Other systems, such as the
> Magnolia and later Apollo/Masscomp/Sun, showed you could have fine speed
> with out having to do that.  Also in "PC land" consider when the '20 Mac
> came out and Apple started to get religion (as did NeXT shortly there
> after).
>
> You could do it, but the original PC designs were sloppy and did not care
> -- the feeling was that extra HW (and SW to support) was unnecessary.
> In many ways, the original PC guys were right given how far and how long
> those systems lived.   But it was painful for the SW building as you
> pointed out.    You should not have had to do such "unnatural" or "unsafe"
> acts.
>
>
>
>
>> UNIX insists on standing between the application and the hardware.
>>
> ​As it should ;-) ​It required  good HW under the covers and then UNIX
> drivers that did the the right things.  In the same time frame as the PC
> was developed it was definitely possible and would not have cost more.​
>
>
>
>
>> In PC land that would be unacceptable.
>>
> ​Only because the HW sucked and the OS did not have the right types of
> structures to make it work.​
>
> Seriously, Marc I get it and you are better man for dealing with the craziness
> of the day.  Many of the rest of us would not at the time, and until we got
> "real HW" did not mess that much with it.  Then again, I did not care to
> run a VisaCalc or a Word Perfect :-)
>
> Clem
>
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://minnie.tuhs.org/pipermail/tuhs/attachments/20160630/ad177082/attachment-0001.html>


More information about the TUHS mailing list