[K12OSN] OT: News article

Robert Arkiletian robark at gmail.com
Thu May 11 19:17:23 UTC 2006

On 5/11/06, Les Mikesell <les at futuresource.com> wrote:
> 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.

Les, you are a veritable gold mine of information.

Robert Arkiletian
Fl_TeacherTool http://fltk.org/links.php?V269
C++ GUI tutorial http://fltk.org/links.php?V19

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