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MS-DOS Paternity Dispute Goes to Court 483

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the dos-padres dept.
theodp writes "Might be more interesting as a Who's-My-Baby's-Daddy? segment on Maury, but a Court has been asked to decide the parentage of MS-DOS. Tim Paterson, whose operating system 86-DOS (aka QDOS) was sold to Microsoft in 1980, is suing author Harold Evans and Time Warner for defamation. In his book They Made America, Evans devoted a chapter to the late, great Gary Kildall, founder of Digital Research, describing Paterson's software as a 'rip-off' and 'a slapdash clone' of Kildall's CP/M."
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MS-DOS Paternity Dispute Goes to Court

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  • Confused (Score:5, Funny)

    by k96822 (838564) * on Thursday March 03, 2005 @06:54PM (#11839700) Journal
    I'm... I'm confused... somebody wants to admit they created MS-DOS?
    • Re:Confused (Score:5, Funny)

      by osewa77 (603622) <`naijasms' `at' `gmail.com'> on Thursday March 03, 2005 @06:57PM (#11839724) Homepage
      I'm... I'm confused... somebody wants to admit they created MS-DOS?
      This is called Masochism [wikipedia.org] :-P
    • by fm6 (162816) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @07:02PM (#11839754) Homepage Journal
      It's less confusing if you remember that Patterson still thinks his lame little effort is as good an OS as CP/M. What boggles the mind is that nobody has managed to disabuse him of this notion. I guess the dude has a lot of self-esteem tied up in this little illusion!
      • I'd be proud.... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @10:12PM (#11840958)
        If I were Patterson, I would be proud. Some smug tossers who write a few lines of HTML or Python and think they're he-man programmers know shit -- writing something like MSDOS was a real effort.

        I guess I must have used MSDOS for about 15 years or so, much of that writing drivers etc.. For the CPUs available at the time (remember 4.77Mhz 8088 with 128kB of RAM) -- equivalent in CPU grunt to Pentium running about 100kHz, you could not pack in piles of stuff and there was no 32-bit or memory protection available to help with debugging etc. For what was going at the time, MSDOS achieved a lot.

        MSDOS was written at the time when there was no C compiler (for x86) worth a damn and everything was written in assembly. There was also very little in the way of debugging assistance - nothing compared to what is available now. Few people could crank out something the size of MSDOS in assmebly these days.

        • by fm6 (162816) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @11:17PM (#11841392) Homepage Journal
          For what was going at the time, MSDOS achieved a lot.
          Nonsense. There were plenty of real OSs around at the time, running on similar processors. The prime example is CP/M. Which, if you had bothered to follow the discussion, you would already know about, since the lawsuit is over whether QDOS was a "slapdash clone" of CP/M. Which, in point of fact, it was. Patterson knew jack about OS design, and thought he could clone CP/M just by writing his own versions of all the CP/M APIs -- something he didn't have the background to do.

          MS-DOS dominated the market for one reason and for one reason only -- IBM chose it as the main OS for the PC. Since there were so many low-level compatibility issues with early PC clones, IBMs competitors had to copy the PC in painstaking detail. That included copying IBM's mistakes -- the biggest of which was using one of the worst OSs ever made. Not by today's standards, but by the standards then.

          • Re:I'd be proud.... (Score:5, Informative)

            by ChuckOp (777663) on Friday March 04, 2005 @03:18AM (#11842325) Homepage
            Nonsense. There were plenty of real OSs around at the time, running on similar processors. The prime example is CP/M.

            CP/M-86 wasn't available until after IBM committed to shipping MS-DOS licensed from Microsoft.

            MS-DOS dominated the market for one reason and for one reason only -- IBM chose it as the main OS for the PC

            You make it sound as if customers dind't have a choice. IBM announced and made available three operating systems - PC-DOS, CP/M-86 and UCSD P-System.

            Because Microsoft delivered a working product a year in advance, IBM wrote it's own programs around it. Also, DR charged a much higher licensing fee for CP/M-86, which IBM sold for $240. But there were no programming languages available for it yet and very little software had been ported over from CP/M to the CP/M-86.

            If IBM made PC-DOS as "the main OS" for the PC, it was because it was available earlier and had lots of programming languages available. Customers also liked it because it was cheaper.

            since the lawsuit is over whether QDOS was a "slapdash clone" of CP/M. Which, in point of fact, it was.

            A clone with a completely different file system? There were plenty of CP/M clones in those days, QDOS, later 86-DOS, later MS-DOS wasn't really a clone. It just offered a familar API set for programs porting from CP/M.

            the biggest of which was using one of the worst OSs ever made. Not by today's standards, but by the standards then.

            Okay, well, what would have been better then for a macine with a 16-bit processor with a 8-bit bus and 16K of memory? Microsoft originally wanted to license XENIX to IBM, but it would never work on that type of machine.

            In no way did Tim Patterson rip off CP/M. It is exceedingly clear from several respecible published sources that DR shot themselves in the foot time and time again, while Microsoft delievered not only a operating system, but the programming languages for it - which was the real draw.

            • How soon they forget (Score:5, Interesting)

              by hey! (33014) on Friday March 04, 2005 @09:54AM (#11844011) Homepage Journal
              Because Microsoft delivered a working product a year in advance, IBM wrote it's own programs around it. Also, DR charged a much higher licensing fee for CP/M-86, which IBM sold for $240. But there were no programming languages available for it yet and very little software had been ported over from CP/M to the CP/M-86.


              Actually, for some time the IBM PC was an expensive door stop/status symbol. No wonder customers wanted the cheapest OS around!

              The thing that changed everything, that sealed MS-DOS's dominance for a decade was the Lotus 123 spreadsheet. It was the killer app for MS-DOS, which made MS-DOS a must have. I was working for a company that developed CP/M software at the time, and sold systems based on an OS (TurboDOS) for S100 systems that was binary compatible with CP/M. These systems had many virtues, including running a pretty good selection (for the time) of accounting and office automation and supporting something like up to ten simultaneous users with a shared hard disk for the amazing bargain price of around $35,000e. But the question was always "does it run Lotus?" If it didn't, it was worthless.

              Okay, well, what would have been better then for a macine with a 16-bit processor with a 8-bit bus and 16K of memory? Microsoft originally wanted to license XENIX to IBM, but it would never work on that type of machine.

              Really? I'm not sure you've got your history right. Xenix came out in '83, which was two years after the IBM PC's debut; it was announced in '80, but it would not have been ready in time. However, 16 bit would not have been an issue, it targetted the 8086.

              There were in fact Unix work alikes that targetted, believe it or not 8 bit microprocessors. I remember, for example, testing a system based on OS9 [wikipedia.org], a Unix like operating system for excellent little 6809 processor (which in todays terms is PIC level stuff). It was available in '79, and was, for the environment it was in, amazingly good, although it didn't run Lotus and therefore was "worthless". I bet I could take a modern Linux developer and set him down in front of an OS9 machine, and while it would be incredibly restrictive, he could actually do some useful work on it. Try that with DOS!

              In part, I think your post goes astray in forgetting too that IBM chose to deliver an unerpowered machine in order to avoid competing with its own midrange machines.
            • by fm6 (162816)

              CP/M-86 wasn't available until after IBM committed to shipping MS-DOS licensed from Microsoft.

              Nevertheless, the original OS plan for the PC (drawn up by Bill Gates himself) was for IBM to commission DR to port CP/M to the 86. This plan fell through for obscure reasons. (Various stories about that. The one I believe is that IBM wanted airtight nondisclosure areements with DR before they'd even open negotiations, and DR balked.) Bill Gates was afraid that if he couldn't give IBM an OS, he couldn't sell them

        • Re:I'd be proud.... (Score:3, Informative)

          by can56 (698639)
          I'll raise you one ...

          In 77, as a summer student, I started working with
          grad students and techs on a DEC minicomputer
          (Nova). The precurser to the Eclipse (Soul of a
          New Machine). This hairy monster had a whopping
          8K of core memory, a paper tape reader with Basic
          and Fortan compilers, and a disfunctional 1-Mbyte
          hard drive (which we fixed that summer ... a
          resister pack went south). It was a very
          expensive machine, but we could run scientific
          routines (such as FFTs) on it as fast as the
          mainframe (IBM 360) on ca
        • by haraldm (643017) on Friday March 04, 2005 @06:18AM (#11842808)
          With DOS 2.0, directories were finally possible. Remember - DOS 1.0 couldn't do directories. So, DOS 2.0 virtually copied the related parts of the UNIX C API with open(), close(), read(), write(), and ioctl(). At this time, there was no technical need to do that because DOS wasn't even written in C (the first release written in C was DOS 4.0 which bloated the installation media big time as most of you will remember), so they did it just for the heck of it. So - DOS 1.0 replicated most of CP/M's APIs, and DOS 2.0 added UNIX APIs. Compare this to SCO's ranting that Linux allegedly copied UNIX and you get an idea of the mind set of certain people.

          So - The IBM PC used Intel CPUs that suffered from CP/M backwards compatibility (64K segments coming from the Z80 / 8085 era), and never overcame it, since even the very latest Pentium IV CPU boots up in the so-called real mode which mimicks an 8086 whose address space is segmented in 64K CP/M compliant address spaces; and MS-DOS copied the related 64K APIs. Remember the program segment prefix, i.e. the first 0x100 bytes of a .COM memory footprint? Ever parsed a command line from there? Duh. CP/M stuff.

          Had IBM chosen the M68000 and a better OS, many programmers wouldn't have gotten grey hair. Near pointers? Far Pointers? 5 different memory models in C or pascal? C'mon. Flat 32 bit address space, 1979. 68000 Amigas and Ataris were _way_ ahead of MS-DOS PCs at that time, but they did not manage to enter the office computer realm which made them fail economically. Today the PC market isn't office realm driven any more. How the world changes... . Anything else?
    • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @07:04PM (#11839769)
      ... OK, Bill isn't the biological father, but he's still damn proud.
      • I just can't figure out why he kidnapped a severely mentally handicapped child. MS-DOS is the best case for abortion I can think of. Nothing that bad should live. Certainly, it shouldn't breed!
        • by Zeinfeld (263942) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @08:05PM (#11840174) Homepage
          I just can't figure out why he kidnapped a severely mentally handicapped child. MS-DOS is the best case for abortion I can think of. Nothing that bad should live. Certainly, it shouldn't breed!

          I would be proud to have MSDOS on my resume, as would most serious software architects. MSDOS was used by millions of users, it was a true groundbreaker. MSDOS does not do much compared to VMS or VM/CMS but what it does it does on an 8/16 bit processor running at a few MHz. The original Microsoft Basic was not exactly extensive but most people would agree that it was a cool piece of coding.

          But you miss the point in any case. This guy has MSDOS on his resume, what he is objecting to is the claim that he stole it.

          • What I don't understand is that they were both a rip-off of RT-11??

            If you'll remember the "pip" command from CP/M? That is straight out of RT-11, and other DEC OS's.
            • by Zeinfeld (263942) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @08:25PM (#11840311) Homepage
              If you'll remember the "pip" command from CP/M? That is straight out of RT-11, and other DEC OS's.

              And PIP was often used as proof that CP/M was a piece of garbage. Other indications being the idiotic copy command which worked the opposite way to every other one "copy to from", oh and it would erase your disk when you made the obvious mistake.

              MSDOS was generally considered something of an improvement.

            • " rip-off of RT-11"

              Yup.

              RT-11 was a program loader. RSX-11M was an operating system. It was the one you used if you couldn't get a (real) UNIX license.

              Having used (real) UNIX on the 70s, RT-11, MSDOS, CP/M were all inelegant painful low-rent crap.

              Kildall was iirc, a hardware engineer, and knew enough assembly to be dangerous. He simply wanted to load programs from 8" floppy drives instead of cassette tape. It was not supposed to be an operating system - never use an "OS" written by a hardware engineer.
          • by Anonymous Coward
            Actually he specifically has QDOS on his resume. Although MSDOS is quite derivative, from the start MS insisted that they made substantial changes. Stretching the resume analogy, Its a bit like going through 3 years of a university, dropping out and completing your degree a the local community college. He did the major leg-work, but he can't claim to have graduated from university he started at.
          • by idlake (850372)
            MSDOS does not do much compared to VMS or VM/CMS but what it does it does on an 8/16 bit processor running at a few MHz.

            UCSD Pascal was a better designed system and ran on a 64kbyte Apple II at the whopping speed of 1MHz with a pathetic little chip called the 6502 that had three (count'em: three) one byte registers.

            People were running multitasking operating system with tree-structured directory trees on hardware less powerful than what MS-DOS required before MS-DOS even appeared on the scene.

            MS-DOS was
            • UCSD Pascal was a better designed system and ran on a 64kbyte Apple II at the whopping speed of 1MHz with a pathetic little chip called the 6502 that had three (count'em: three) one byte registers.

              As a former 6502 programmer myself I know the limits of the machine. But it is somewhat ironic that you would point out the limitations of the 6502 to bash Bill Gates since he personaly wrote the code that made the Apple ][, the Commodore PET and most of the rest of the Micros possible, Microsoft Basic.

              And whi


              • As a former 6502 programmer myself I know the limits of the machine. But it is somewhat ironic that you would point out the limitations of the 6502 to bash Bill Gates since he personaly wrote the code that made the Apple ][, the Commodore PET and most of the rest of the Micros possible, Microsoft Basic.

                On the Apple ][ there ws no MS BASIC. There was AppleSoft Basic and INTEGER Basic. The former was written by Larry Atkinson (IIRC) and the later by Steve Wonziak.

                No Mr. Gates involved at all.

                angel'o'sphe
              • But it is somewhat ironic that you would point out the limitations of the 6502 to bash Bill Gates since he personaly wrote the code that made the Apple ][, the Commodore PET and most of the rest of the Micros possible, Microsoft Basic.

                The Apple II was developed with, and shipped with, Integer Basic. Microsoft Basic was a later addition once the machine was already well on its way.

                The market rejected Pascal because it was a piece of elitist crap designed to make students 'program properly'.

                Pascal was
              • Pascal forced programmers to think before they started to write code, a habit that was odious and foreign to legions of brain-damaged BASIC and FORTRAN programmers. Microsoft BASIC was a poor excuse for a programming language. It made FORTRAN-IV look good, which is quite a feat.
    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @07:41PM (#11840004)
      It was, just what it claimed to be a disk operating system. It was very simple, very low impact. This was good, given the power of computers of the time. More powerful OSes actually took a noticable amount of system time. DOS took essentially none, since it didn't do anything but basic disk and memory services.

      The problem, of course, is the same problem we always face: it stuck around for too long. Systems advanced and it became trivial to run a more powerful OS, and thus highly desirable, but DOS stuck around since so many things were DOS based.

      However don't think that it's simplicity made it bad, that was actually one of the attractive things about it. An 8086 system is really, really slow and had very little memory. It was desireable to have all the power and memory possible available to the application. You wouldn't want to try somthing like a modern Linux kernel on it. Even if you could hack it to work, it would use up all the system resources just doing it's thing, leaving nothing left for software.
      • TOO LATE !!! (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DrYak (748999)

        An 8086 system is really, really slow and had very little memory. It was desireable to have all the power and memory possible available to the application. You wouldn't want to try somthing like a modern Linux kernel on it.

        TOO LATE !!!

        http://elks.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

        Some crazy people did INDEED try to run Linux on the limited original PC hardware.

        We can now formulate the "laws of linux hobby projects" :
        1- As with any other stupid projet with "linux" in it's name (like "makinge coffee with linux"), there

    • by xtermin8 (719661) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @09:23PM (#11840678)
      There's an interesting History of MS-DOS By: Leven Antov at http://www.digitalresearch.biz/HISZMSD.HTM [digitalresearch.biz]
  • MacKiDo (Score:4, Funny)

    by fembots (753724) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @06:54PM (#11839706) Homepage
    describing Paterson's software as a 'rip-off' and 'a slapdash clone' of Kildall's CP/M.

    Meanwhile, Bill is organizing an army of lawyers, and suddenly "Oh wait, they aren't talking about me!".

    http://www.mackido.com/History/History_DrDos.htm l
  • Sweet. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 03, 2005 @06:55PM (#11839713)
    There is nothing funnier that two geeks in a slap fight.
  • by Mark_MF-WN (678030) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @06:56PM (#11839721)
    I'd be suing over the title of the book -- correct me if I'm wrong, but Microsoft didn't build america. In fact, I'm pretty sure America was already quite well established by 1980, seeing as how they it was a global superpower at the time.
    • "Microsoft didn't build america"

      Microsoft bilked America.
    • by punkass (70637) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @07:13PM (#11839837)
      The book / film is about American inventors / innovators / corporate moguls for the last 200 years. Microsoft is in there because, like it or not, their OS has been the predominate one over the last 20 years. The book also discuss things like the steam engine and modern banking. Stop being an ass and find something useful to complain about, like how the book claim this guy's work underlies "every computer application today".
    • Gary Kildall eventually died in a bar, but many (including myself) would say that Bill Gates drove Kildall toward suicidal drinking, which lead to him being killed in a bar with other drunks.

      I have little sympathy for Tim Paterson. He stole another person's idea (i.e. CPM/86) and tried to make money off of it by selling the product (i.e. QDOS) to Bill Gates. Gates then signed an agreement with IBM to distribute a copy of MSDOS (renamed from QDOS) on each IBM PC. This agreement transformed Microsoft in

      • by Mark_MF-WN (678030) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @09:10PM (#11840593)
        Actually, Torvalds is quite wealthy. RedHat and various other early adopters of GNU/Linux technology gave Torvalds a great deal of stock. RedHat stock (among others) became extremely valuable. If I recall correctly, Torvalds was once in possession of about 16 million dollars in stock from various companies. It came down quite a bit, as these things always do, but he's still quite well off.

        Sadly, he's the exception. The entire computing business (and engineering business, and any other business involving creativity and intelligence) is replete with stories like this. Kildall is just an unusually extreme example.

      • by wintermute42 (710554) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @09:16PM (#11840631) Homepage

        Gary Kildall eventually died in a bar, but many (including myself) would say that Bill Gates drove Kildall toward suicidal drinking, which lead to him being killed in a bar with other drunks.
        [...]

        By contrast, Kildall did not even get the fame, i.e. the recognition that he deserved. Ask any Windows/MS-DOS user who Kildall is, and she will scratch her head with ignorance. If I were in Kildall's shoes, I would have been bitter every day of my life and would have probably committed suicide too.

        I think that saying that Kildall was driven to suicide by Bill Gates is a stretch. I know of Kildall's story, but I really can't bring myself to shed too many tears. Kildall was still rich by the standards of most of us. He has successfully founded Digital Research. There were many innovative and interesting things that Kildall could have done, either at Digital Research or on his own.

        You have the right to decide to kill yourself if you were "robbed" of the massive wealth and fame of Bill Gates (you make the point that it is both, not just one that is the fatal poison). In this case, I feel sorry for both you and Kildall in holding such egotistical world views.

        Money may not buy happiness, but it can buy freedom. The fact that Kildall is not recognized for a crappy little operating systems like CP/M and DR-DOS is really no surprise. Looking back on CP/M, MS-DOS and DR-DOS all we can really say is "thank God we can use real operating systems like UNIX, Linux and even Windows NT/XP". Xenix and the early UNIX operating systems were far better and ran on machines not much more powerful than the Intel 286.

        Instead of being famous for writing CP/M and DR-DOS Kildall could have used the money he made to do something really creative. But he did not. The tragedy in the story is that of wasted possibility, not lack of fame or an extra 40 billion dollars. The inability to take advantage of what fortune and hard work had given Kildall can be laid at Kildall's feet not Gates'.

        I suspect that the real problem is that Kildall had a drinking problem and was in the wrong place at the wrong time (he died, as I recall, in a bar fight).

      • by GISGEOLOGYGEEK (708023) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @09:25PM (#11840693)
        Who cares if Linus is or isnt a billionaire? He chose to make his project open source and use that business model to make his keep. There's no reason to feel sorry for him. Most of the geeks on this board would have nothing to write about if they didn't have Linus's work to sponge off of.

        I suppose you also believe the old lie that Apple created the mouse driven user interface and claim MS stole from them, while ignoring where it really came from?

        Give me a break. This is just more griping about why you hate the guy on top.

        If more of you would stop the griping, and instead work on being on top, technology would advance 10x faster.

        You were ripped off? how? did you invent 'happy o's' cerial right before 'cheerios' hit the market? 9 times out of 10, the 'ripped off' guy is a fool who gave away his idea/money when everyone else would have known better.

        Which reminds me ... I have this friend in Nigeria who needs you to hold onto some money ...

      • by runderwo (609077) * <runderwo@ma i l . w i n . org> on Thursday March 03, 2005 @09:38PM (#11840760)
        Gary Kildall eventually died in a bar, but many (including myself) would say that Bill Gates drove Kildall toward suicidal drinking, which lead to him being killed in a bar with other drunks.
        The story actually goes that Kildall fell in a bar and died slowly at home of some internal injury.
        By contrast, Kildall did not even get the fame, i.e. the recognition that he deserved. Ask any Windows/MS-DOS user who Kildall is, and she will scratch her head with ignorance. If I were in Kildall's shoes, I would have been bitter every day of my life and would have probably committed suicide too.

        Then again, you had Phil Katz [esva.net], who ripped off ARC from Thom Henderson, rocketed to fame and fortune with it, and then proceeded to drink himself to death. I would say that certain people can't handle failure, but certain others can't handle success either. Blaming one's individual choice to drink himself to death on another doesn't change where the responsibility for his suicide lies - with himself.
  • by Husgaard (858362) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @06:58PM (#11839731)
    The way I originally was told the story, QDOS got this name because it was meant as a quick-n-dirty OS for the 8086 until a real OS came up.

    It's main purpose was to be as compatible as possible to CP/M to faciliate fast porting of CP/M applications to QDOS.

  • But... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by oGMo (379) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @07:00PM (#11839745)
    In his book They Made America, Evans devoted a chapter to the late, great Gary Kildall, founder of Digital Research, describing Paterson's software as a 'rip-off' and 'a slapdash clone' of Kildall's CP/M.

    ...I thought it wasn't defamation if it was true.

    • Re:But... (Score:3, Informative)

      by QuantumG (50515)
      Anything that injures a person's reputation can be defamatory. If a comment brings a person into contempt, disrepute or ridicule, it is likely to be defamatory. You can tell an interviewer that your former boss was an overbearing meglomanic, and have an official document to prove it, and it would still be slander. In this case everyone knows that QDOS was just a quick and dirty clone of CP/M, so it isn't defamatory to write it in a book. Any damage that could be done to Paterson's reputation was done a l
      • by oGMo (379)
        You can tell an interviewer that your former boss was an overbearing meglomanic, and have an official document to prove it, and it would still be slander.

        IANAL, but I'm almost entirely certain that it's only slander if you can prove that it was untrue, said with malice, and there were actual damages as a result.

        • Re:But... (Score:3, Informative)

          by Aneurysm9 (723000)
          You're both right, in a way. GP's description is essentially accurate and once you've done that you've defamed someone. Truth is, however, a complete affirmative defense. It's much like how fair use was in the copyright sense before 1976. You'd say "sure, I did it, but you can't hold me responsible" because of this defense.
    • Re:But... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Skuld-Chan (302449)
      It was Gary Kildall's claim that QDOS was ripped off from CPM internals - not written as Tim Patterson claims from the ground up.
    • I thought it wasn't defamation if it was true.

      America has gone litigation-mad.

      Defamation, historical inaccuracy and other kinds of misrepresentation can be important enough to litigate over, but this particular issue is just plain ridiculous.

      "The law does not concern itself with trivialities."

      The judge should just throw this out immediately and sternly warn both sides not to waste the court's time.
  • I thought Gore invented DOS!
    • I thought Gore invented DOS!

      Nah; he didn't claim to have invented the internet [snopes.com] either...

      Although, as I was going through that I thought "Was Gore really in politics as far back as the late 1960s"?

      To which the article actually points out the answer is "no"; so Gore was still stretching things in claiming that he was responsible for fostering the environment in which the Internet was "born".
    • Re:Al, not Vidal (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Al Gore said, "During my service in the United States Congress I took the initiative in creating the Internet." This is true. On the other hand, when Bush disclaimed his timber business write-off during the televised debates in 2004, that was a lie.

      Your (and my) posting on the Internet today is attributable to the role Gore played in creating the Internet when he was in the U.S. Congress.

      Al Gore and the Internet [firstmonday.org]

      By Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf

      Al Gore was the first political leader to recognize
  • Multics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mainframes ROCK! (644130) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (viftaw)> on Thursday March 03, 2005 @07:18PM (#11839865) Homepage
    Funny, I heard that Unix is a 'rip-off' and 'a slapdash clone' of Multics. Is that true?
  • Who cares? (Score:4, Funny)

    by BigAlexK (398239) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @07:19PM (#11839871)
    I couldn't give a toss,
    who made MSDOS,
    All I know,
    is I broke my toe,
    kicking the damn computer out the (MS) Window,
    when once again,
    I'd rather have used a pen,
    to write down all my precious source code.
    Amen.
  • DNA Samples (Score:3, Funny)

    by Snommis (861843) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @07:22PM (#11839888) Homepage
    I still have my original DOS floppies - I could offer them up so they can take samples for DNA analysis...

    Maury: "Mr. Gates, you are NOT DOS's father!" Bill: "Oh yeah! Oh yeah! I done TOLD you it ain't my baby!"

  • Hm... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Matilda the Hun (861460) <flatsymcnoboobs <at> leekspin <dot> com> on Thursday March 03, 2005 @07:22PM (#11839889) Homepage
    Does this mean we're going to have 6 other people showing up and claiming parentage too? And if someone sold MS-DOS when it wasn't theirs, how much do you think the original owner's going to get? I mean, if it was the jumping-off point of Windows, that could be a hefty lawsuit...

    Speaking of which, why did it take so long to come out? Was the original programmer hiding under a rock for the past decade and a half?
  • by jkujawa (56195)
    I mean, honestly, who would actually want to claim paternity?

    *points to Bill Gates* Your kid, not mine.

    Thing should have been aborted, or at least shot when pulled mewling and bloody from the womb. World'd be better off.
    • Re:Yuck. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Blitzenn (554788) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @07:40PM (#11840001) Homepage Journal
      I would. For the continued royalties you could glean off it alone. Secondly, in it's day, it was the best Operating system around for a PC, hands down. DOS brought device handling up front, to the user. It was a major step in the direction that all OS' follow now. Without that history, much of the device layer we are accustomed to today, wouldn't be there. I was a professional in the field then and it's creation opened so many doors. It was a cool time to be paid to work with the stuff.
      • reality check (Score:3, Insightful)

        by idlake (850372)
        It was a major step in the direction that all OS' follow now. Without that history, much of the device layer we are accustomed to today, wouldn't be there.

        MS-DOS came out in 1981. At that time, people were using 4.1BSD and Smalltalk (including GUIs and IDEs). The BSD systems not only had a flexible driver architecture, they had been ported to many different systems. Some versions of them even ran on 16bit PDP-11's. This was several decades after the first multiuser operating systems were developed. Si
      • by spitzak (4019) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @10:49PM (#11841217) Homepage
        MSDOS 1 certainly hard-code what the various devices were. The only thing you could open by name was disk files.

        MSDOS 2 had huge improvements becasue at the time they wanted to merge it with Xenix and make a Unix system out of it. It had named devices and opening them as files would connect you to the device drivers. I actually implemented some of these, including what I intended to be a graphical windowing system driven by printing to stdout, it was actually quite usable and powerful.

        Unfortunately that level of device support is pretty trivial. The Linux drivers you are complaining about have many more interfaces such as being able to allocate memory and mess with other parts of the kernel. If the driver was limited to read-block and write-block like the MSDOS-2 drivers were, there is no question that they would be completely independent of the kernel.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    C>
    A>
  • Clones (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Detritus (11846) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @07:26PM (#11839917) Homepage
    I've never heard anyone claim that Paterson lifted any code from CP/M, just that he wrote a clone of CP/M, instead of designing his own operating system. It was obvious that much of the design of QDOS was done by reading the documentation for CP/M. There's nothing illegal about that. Many people did the same thing to UNIX.
    • Re:Clones (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Arker (91948) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @08:29PM (#11840338) Homepage

      Well, here's the thing. CP/M licensees got source code. Microsoft had it. Patterson had it. Then years later IIRC, Killdall stood up in court and entered a keystrokes at a PC running MSDOS and brought up an easter egg he had programmed into CP/M years earlier, proving they had used his code.

      As a result, he wound up getting lots of money and use of the MSDOS codebase to keep DR DOS compatible.

      Patterson seems like the most likely source for the copying, but I've never seen that proven or any proof attempted.

  • by LordByronStyrofoam (587954) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @07:26PM (#11839920)
    CP/M didn't keep track of the exact size of a file, just the number of 128-byte blocks allocated to it. This was OK for text files. You knew when you got to the end because you'd read a Ctrl-Z. But binary files could have Control-Zs in them anywhere, so all programs that read/wrote binary files had to store actual size - what should have been metadata - either as a header or in a separate file. Very un-Unix-like. But then, CP/M was a ripoff of RT-11, DEC's LSI-11 starter OS.
    • I was able to get a 4 gigabyte floppy by sector editing a floppy. It was also fun playing with the FAT table count. MS-DOS could have up to 256 spare copies of the FAT (the number was stored as a byte in the boot sector). Because the root directory's location was derived from that value, it was possible to have multiple root directories.


      Oh, and some of the directory tree-mapping programs had a REAL hard time of it, when I reset a directory pointer back on itself...

  • by 0WaitState (231806) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @07:29PM (#11839934)
    I vaguely remember a comment where someone was asking why a certain QDOS system call ends in a question mark or other odd character, exactly like the equivalent CP/M system call which also broke the naming convention. I think it was in Robert Cringely's "Accidental Empires", which, alas, I don't have handy.
    • by Blitzenn (554788)
      They don't. They are so similar to MS dos commands that it can easily be said that they are sister OS'. File handling, executables, directory structure, even the commands themselves are too nearly identical to be a mear coincidence.
    • by jeps (700879) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @07:50PM (#11840070)
      Maybe you're thinking of the fact that the MS-DOS's Print String function use the dollar sign as a string terminator? Here's a lengthy but interesting discussion in comp.os.cpm about this and other historical "facts" about the origins of *DOS. A Bit of CP/M History [google.no]

      - jeps

    • by symbolic (11752) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @08:15PM (#11840240)

      If sofware patents were available back in the day that both Microsoft and Apple were doing their thing (Apple, it's revolutionizing, and Microsoft, its copying), I dare say that neither would be around in its current form, if at all. All of the ideas we see today, in their various forms of implementation were based on something. The software patent fiasco is quite similar to the copyright fiasco - all of the fledgling companies that made it big without copyright extensions, the DMCA, or software patents, have now raised the barrier of entry to some rediculously high level. We all lose, of course.
  • by Garabito (720521) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @07:40PM (#11840002)

    Paterson has endured "great pain and mental anguish" and is seeking "over $75,000" in damages, plus costs.

    It looks like Paterson is trying to get economic compensation (no matter from who) for the "great pain and mental anguish" of having developed QDOS, then sell it to MS for a ridiculous sum of money and seing how they managed to create a software empire with it.

  • In other news... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Linux (Linux Is Not UNIX) is a rip-off and a slapdash clone of UNIX...
    • Re:In other news... (Score:3, Informative)

      by jd (1658)
      No, it is a result of a friend of Linus' creating a directory for him to place his Unix-like OS in. The name is derived from from "Linus' Unix". By all accounts, Linus wanted to call it something else, as he didn't want people to think he was claiming total ownership of it, but gave up and went with sounder advice.
  • mcbride - has 'rights' to code, sues IBM

    paterson - has 'rights' to code, sues evans and time warner

    Maybe jerry springer can do a show on frivolous lawsuits. I'd like to see the CEOs of each of the involved parties throw chairs at each other and punch each other silly.

    I wonder if they'd get any brain damage. I wonder if some of them even have enough brains to get brain damage.

    Then maury could do a show on CEOs that got brain damaged during a staged tv talk show.

    At any event this is all (lawsuits include
  • So what's their point?
  • Here's some extracts :

    "QDOS was approximately 4,000 lines of 8086 assembly code and highly compatible with the APIs of the popular CP/M operating system"

    "QDOS was developed quickly, but it lacked many features of CP/M. It was marketed as 86-DOS."

    "QDOS met IBM's main criteria: It looked like CP/M, and it was easy to adapt existing 8-bit CP/M programs to run under it"

  • by Sundroid (777083) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @08:02PM (#11840144) Homepage
    Let's review some interesting facts:

    1) Patterson sold his QDOS to Gates for $50,000, whereas Kildall sold his company to Novell in 1991 for $120 million, according the Oct/2004 BusinessWeek article (link:http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content /04_43/b3905109_mz063.htm [businessweek.com]).

    2) In his defamation suit, Patterson is asking for $75,000, plus court costs, per the Register piece (link:http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/03/03/msdo s_paternity_dispute/ [theregister.co.uk]).

    3) The Register article includes a photo of Patterson's 86-DOS (QDOS) manual with the word, "Programmer", misspelled on the manual's cover.

    There is a movie somewhere in there, but it's definitely not about ambition.
  • by blamanj (253811) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @08:21PM (#11840287)
    From: korpela@albert.ssl.berkeley.edu (Eric J. Korpela)
    Newsgroups: alt.folklore.computers
    Subject: Re: filename separator change in CP/M and MS-DOS
    Date: 7 Jul 1998 01:47:52 GMT
    >The legend runs something like this:
    > 1. The first version of MS-DOS was actually QDOS from Seattle Computer Works

    There is much ongoing discussion as to whether it was ever called QDOS.
    There is a general consensus that at various times it was called 86-DOS
    and SCP-DOS. I belive the real name of the company whas Seattle Computer
    Products.

    > 2. QDOS ("Quick & Dirty OS") was an unauthorized port of CP/M to x86.
    > CP/M ran on Z-80's.

    There is little doubt that it was an unauthorized port. (In the US, at least)
    No authorization is required to reverse engineer a product. There is much
    debate about whether an of the "port" was accomplished by running a disassembly
    of CP/M through Intel's 8080->8086 assembly code converter. (This would
    be illegal in the US).

    The typical (apocryphal) story is one of special key sequences that would
    bring up a Digital Research Incorporated copyright notice in early versions
    of DOS. (At this point, I've never seen a special key sequence that would
    bring up such a notice in any real CP/M version.)

    BTW, the CP/M version in question was written to run on the Intel 8080
    chip. The ability to run it on the Z-80 was a consequence of the Z-80
    design, not vice versa.

    > 3a. CP/M used "/" as the separator between components in pathnames

    False

    > 3b. alternative version: CP/M did not have directories, so did not need or
    > use any kind of slash as a pathname piece separator.

    The alternative version (3b) is correct here. CP/M did not have directories
    other than numbered user areas. In CP/M the '/' character is for command
    switches, a trait it inherited from Digital Equipment Corp operating systems
    on which it was patterned.

    > 4a. QDOS and hence MS-DOS used "\" as the pathname separator to disguise
    > the origin of the ripped-off software (unauthorized port from CP/M).

    False, this is far too little to disguise the nearly identical APIs of
    CP/M and early versions of DOS.

    > 4b. alternative version: CP/M and hence QDOS and MSDOS used "/" as an
    > option separator to commands, hence it was not available for use
    > as pathname separator.

    Correct.

    Eric
  • by CypherOz (570528) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @10:41PM (#11841146) Journal
    I always thought that CP/M was a rip off from RT/11 that ran in PDP 11's. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RT-11 [wikipedia.org] and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CP/M [wikipedia.org] Eg. CP/M pip (Peripheral-Interchange-Program) had the same syntax as RT/11 and much of the CP/M command line was the same/similar.
    • CP/M was certainly modelled after RT-11, but it wasn't a clone (for one thing, it was a far less capable system for far less capable computers), let alone an actual rip-off (i.e. an authorized use of RT-11 code). In contrast, there have been claims that at least parts of 86-DOS were directly copied from CP/M code; I hope this case brings forward enough evidence to clearly establish whether or not that is true.
  • by MBGMorden (803437) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @11:35PM (#11841512)
    I truly wonder why people are so quick to jump all over Patterson here for mimicing the behaviour of CP/M. They make it sound as if he's evil or something.

    Linux Torvalds however, quite blatantly made Linux borrowing many ideas from the Unix systems of the time, and he's heralded as a geek hero of our time. Don't get me wrong, I'm not bashing Linus in the least. I think he did well, and I think that Patterson did equally well creating his workalike. Kildall's arrogance cost him the IBM contract because someone else implemented a cheaper version.

  • well . . . (Score:4, Interesting)

    by edward.virtually@pob (6854) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @11:50PM (#11841577)
    the _fact_ is that qdos _was_ a ripoff of Kildall's cp/m, as anyone who happens to have the very old edition of wired magazine that includes an interview with the programmer who _wrote_ it under contract _to_ Paterson can read about. another fact: ibm paid digital research (Kildall's company) to avoid being sued over cp/m code found in ibm-dos (which was rebranded ms-dos). but since the records from the court cases involved have now been destroyed, and the outcome of cases in our legal system depends on who has the most money, Paterson will probably win. the truth is dead.

    poor Kildall. robbed of his proper place by amoral bags of slime, and now even the history books can't admit his contribution without being sued by said slime bags' lawyers. an object lesson about how unjust the world really is.

    rip, Kildall. at least some of us remember and will stand with you on judgment day.

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