Vintage Software Copyright

Jay Jaeger cube1 at
Fri Aug 21 17:48:59 CDT 2015

On 8/21/2015 5:25 PM, Fred Cisin wrote:

>>> Where would MICROS~1 be if Gary Kildall were to have been litigious?
> On Fri, 21 Aug 2015, Jay Jaeger wrote:
>> How so?   Digital Research spurned IBM, and would have had to take IBM
>> on as well as Microsoft.  Litigious or not, it would have been a
>> seriously uphill battle.
> The influence and basis on, of MS-DOS and CP/M is undenied.

Influence does not necessarily constitute intellectual property.  If it
were, DEC could have sued the pants off of Kildall for concepts stolen
from their operating systems.  IBM likewise.  Kildall certainly didn't
invent very much.  By the same logic of "influence", AT&T and probably
others could have sued the pants off of Microsoft and IBM for the
influence UNIX had on MS-DOS 2.0  (just look at the list of system
calls).  But, the reality would have been that there was nothing to base
a case on.  And on and on and on.  (Back in those days there was also no
idea of software patents).

Even if Kildall had been litigious, it would not have made any
difference to where Microsoft ended up.  Even if he would have had a
case, he could simply have been bought out.

> In fact, the clear copyright issue was apparently why IBM chose to ALSO
> sell CP/M-86.  However, there are disagreements about whether the
> pricing choice was an IBM effort to sabotage the CP/M-86 sales, or a
> serious error by DRI.  (I believe the latter)

Nonsense.  Absolute rubbish.  Not a chance. There was no copyright
issue, not in any way.  Find me a written reference that says otherwise,
and I might change my mind.

The written records I have read state that Kildall finally came to his
senses way way late, and realized what a market opportunity the IBM PC
represented.  But by then he was too late.  By every account I have
read, he blew off a meeting arranged by Gates that would have been a
chance to sell his operating system, so IBM asked Gates to see if he
could find an alternative elsewhere and found what eventually became
MS-DOS, and the rest is history, as they say.  Even had IBM been somehow
responsible for the disparity in the pricing, DRI could have marketed it
on their own anyway.  The truth of the matter seems to be that Kildall
just didn't have any business acumen, and Gates, who did, rolled right
over him after he blew his chance.

> But, Gary (and Xerox Parc) was not litigious.

Xerox was not necessarily not ligitious.  They just had no clue about
the value of the technology they had, and failed to protect it in any
meaningful way.  That is also a matter of written record.


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