[K12OSN] OT: News article

Graham yorick at xtra.co.nz
Thu May 11 14:41:38 UTC 2006

Les Mikesell wrote:

>On Thu, 2006-05-11 at 03:40, Martin Woolley wrote:
>>On Thursday 11 May 2006 02:33, Doug Simpson wrote:
>>>"There's no innovation that we've seen come out of - at least Linux,"
>>>Ballmer said Tuesday. "Linux is a clone of a 30-years-old operating
>>>system (called Unix)."
>>I reckon M$ has stifled innovation.  When I started working in computing in 
>>1979, I worked on IBM 370s and ICL 2900s, which were common machines.  Ten 
>>years later, I was working with PCs running Windows and the big irons were 
>>all but consigned to history.  Another 15 years on and I am still working 
>>with PCs running Windoze.  I think the PC came out in 1983 and Windows was 
>>launched in 1985; ie it's 20 years old.  Linux (1992) is really the fresh 
>>faced kid on the block. 
>You are missing a large and painful chunk of history here. The
>PC's of the 80's ran MSDOS which does next to nothing and what
>displaced the mainframes was a set of unrelated and innovative
>applications like visicalc, wordperfect, and dbase.  This was
>all driven by pricing compared to mainframes and the other
>potential competitor which was unix.  The PCs back then did
>not have enough power to run unix and didn't do too well
>with windows either until the mid-90's.  Networking was
>mostly Novell netware because it took less client memory
>than the competing IBM PC-NET which was the original netbios
>that grew into windows networking.  But even before
>the PC, Radio Shack/Tandy was shipping something that
>would: http://oldcomputers.net/trs80ii.html and it became
>at one point the largest installed unix (xenix) base. It
>was really horrible hardware though and didn't evolve
>very well. An assortment of other companies had much more
>expensive unix boxes but price-wise they couldn't compete
>with PCs.  The turning point came when PCs became capable
>of running either windows or unix.   The 386 sort-of worked
>and the 486 wasn't bad although still not great at X and
>graphics especially with the amount of memory you could
>afford then.  The problem then was that AT&T owned unix and
>was selling it for about $1,000 per machine. They didn't
>quite get the concept of one (or more) machines per
>user - and it was configured to only work with their own
>overpriced hardware. Around 1993/4, Dell sold a nice version
>of SysVr4 Unix that worked with most generic hardware - still
>in the $1,000 range for the OS, but it made a nice server.
>Then when Windows95 was released, this version mysteriously
>went away.  If you read any of the transcripts of the
>vendor testimony from the Microsoft antitrust trial you
>can probably guess why.  Then when windows NT came out at
>$3-400 per server the fact that it barely worked didn't matter,
>it was so much cheaper that there wasn't any choice.  Linux
>was around by then, but so buggy that it wasn't a reasonable
>option.  FreeBSD was also around but in the middle of an
>AT&T lawsuit about their right to distribute it.  AT&T
>later lost but that gave Linux its lead over the *bsd's.
>So, Linux may appear as the new contender, but it is the
>applications that count and application development
>really has been continuous across the versions of unix
>and linux.  Unlike your transition from the mainframe through
>msdos and various versions of windows, anything you had
>written in C, shell, or perl in the 80's under unix could
>be running virtually unchanged today on linux.   I've always
>believed that if there had been a version of commercial
>unix priced reasonably for personal use (perhaps like
>OSX today) and it had been allowed to survive Microsoft's
>anticompetitive activities, application development would
>have had a gracefully evolving base over the last several
>decades instead of the disruptive turmoil it has been though.
I suppose you have to be an old bugger, but Les is so right.  Yes in 
latter days you can certainly find fault with MS's business practices in 
terms of maintaining the Monopoly, but it was IBM, SCO, HP, SGI and 
their greed and shortsightedness that basically handed the monopoly to 
MS on a plate.  All of the above had there own *ixes in the eighties.  
IBM had AIX, SCO-Xenix, HP - HPUX and SGI IRIX... All priced way out of 
range of the average PC User.   Heh at least they're still 
significant... In the late sixties I worked for NCR!  :)

ISO 26300 compliant

Graham Lauder,
OpenOffice.org MarCon (Marketing Contact) NZ

INGOTs Assessor Trainer
(International Grades in Office Technologies)

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