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Windows Microsoft Operating Systems Technology

The Secret Origin of Windows 402

Posted by Soulskill
from the sounds-like-a-comic-book-character dept.
harrymcc writes "Windows has been so dominant for so long that it's easy to forget Windows 1.0 was vaporware, mocked both outside and inside of Microsoft — and that its immediate successors were considered stopgaps until OS/2 was everywhere. Tandy Trower, the product manager who finally got Windows 1.0 out the door a quarter century ago, has written a memoir of the experience. (He thought being assigned the much-maligned project was Microsoft's fiendish way of trying to get rid of him.) The story involves such still-significant figures as Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, Ray Ozzie, and Nathan Myhrvold; Trower left Microsoft only in November of 2009 after 28 years with the company."
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The Secret Origin of Windows

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  • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @01:15PM (#31416692)

    they also had Ballmer doing crazy commercials at that time. It was destined to do badly.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGvHNNOLnCk [youtube.com]

    • by heffrey (229704)

      Guess it actually had a different destiny!

    • Re:To be fair... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @01:38PM (#31417016)

      That video was made in what, 1985? And Windows sold for $99 according to the ad.

      Today, Windows 7 (NOT AN UPGRADE) [amazon.com] goes for $178.54 on Amazon and lists for $199. According to the Minneapolis Fed [minneapolisfed.org], $99 in 1985 is worth $200.21 in 2010 - in other Words, inflation adjusted, Microsoft hasn't raised the price of Windows. And if you include all of the programs that are included with Windows 7 that you would normally have had to have purchased separately back in '85 (compression, file management, image viewers, etc, etc...) Windows has gone down dramatically. Now, they've been labeled a monopoly in court, but they're pricing isn't that of a monopolist. Actually, they've given the consumer a really nice value.

      Now, cue the MS haters who are going to accuse me of being an "apologist" and for being a "revisionist". Whatever. I just think it's an interesting micro economic case study.

      BTW, get a life.

      • Re:To be fair... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by headkase (533448) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @01:45PM (#31417088)
        Economists until very recently denied that the factor called "lock-in" even existed. Yes, a bunch of old stuffies insisting that what they say is the way the world works even when they miss some big pieces. I wish I could find the quote which showed that attitude however Google is now polluted so much with the phrase "lock-in" that it's all noise searching for when it wasn't that way. Left field: My operating system is Free, if everyone saw that obvious value and weren't tied to existing applications and data they'd all jump ship immediately and by doing so would also immediately raise my operating system's quality of code to amazing levels: just because of the weight of bug reports and new blood of code.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Eirenarch (1099517)

          if everyone saw that obvious value and weren't tied to existing applications and data they'd all jump ship immediately and by doing so would also immediately raise my operating system's quality of code to amazing levels: just because of the weight of bug reports and new blood of code.

          Either that or your operating system would get forked millions of times instead of thousands.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by StayFrosty (1521445)
            What OS is forked thousands of times? I'm pretty sure "forked" doesn't mean what you think it means.
            • by SQLGuru (980662)

              Every custom compile is essentially a fork.....dead-end forks, but forks none-the-less.

              • Re:To be fair... (Score:4, Insightful)

                by StayFrosty (1521445) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @03:35PM (#31418662)
                The word you are looking for is branch. When a distribution packages a piece of software, they usually take a release from upstream, add any patches (create their custom branch) compile it and release their package. If they decided to fork the code, that would imply that they continue to develop the software on their own without the help or contributions from the upstream developers.
              • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                by bertoelcon (1557907) *

                Every custom compile is essentially a fork.....dead-end forks, but forks none-the-less.

                So Gentoo then?

          • Re:To be fair... (Score:5, Interesting)

            by headkase (533448) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @02:02PM (#31417324)
            Cathedral and Bazaar time. What you trade off in speed of development with the bazaar you gain in robustness from Cathedral top-down error. It takes longer but you are less likely to run into an evolutionary dead-end from well-intentioned global decisions. Which is why it is good that FreeBSD kernels exist in addtion to Linux ones and perhaps when Hurd [gnu.org] becomes reality that will be genetic diversity as well. No single cause can kill them all.
        • "Left field: My operating system is Free, if everyone saw that obvious value and weren't tied to existing applications and data they'd all jump ship immediately and by doing so would also immediately raise my operating system's quality of code to amazing levels: just because of the weight of bug reports and new blood of code."

          I don't particularly care to contribute to the raising of your O/S's code quality. There are a couple of companies that already have working, polished products. I'll buy one of tho
        • Re:To be fair... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by aztracker1 (702135) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @02:50PM (#31417986) Homepage
          Well, to be honest, I'm pretty well informed, and have run a number of operating systems in the past five years. I ran Linux as my main desktop OS about two of those years, and ran PC-BSD for several months. I actually prefer Windows 7 (wasn't such a big fan of XP or Vista though). I liked Windows 2000 a lot too. For the most part, all my most used apps are cross-platform and open-source. I use Firefox, Thunderbird, Pidgin and X-Chat more than anything else. I use VMWare so my windows development can stay in a VM space. I also use AnyDVD and Nero Recode a bit too, for archiving my DVDs, so my HTPC can playback without the disks.

          In the grand scheme of things, an OEM windows license with a new PC isn't such a bad deal. Most people have no intention of opening a terminal/command prompt and typing in commands to ever get anything installed. With Linux, there's a lot of times this is the case. Me, I don't mind so much. I just put together a new PC, and if the hardware were better supported, I'd have probably gone back to Linux for it. The intel gfx regressions in the 9.04 version of Ubuntu actually drove me back to windows on my netbook. I know there are other distros, but I just needed something working relatively quickly. Funny that wound up being Windows in my case. In another year or so, I'll probably spend a year with Linux again (once my hardware is supported, and OpenCL is supported in ffmpeg).

          I guess the point is, I've worked pretty well at not being locked into anything. I actually choose Windows for my desktop today. That may not be the case tomorrow.
      • Re:To be fair... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by tepples (727027) <tepples@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @01:53PM (#31417208) Homepage Journal

        And if you include all of the programs that are included with Windows 7 that you would normally have had to have purchased separately back in '85 (compression, file management, image viewers, etc, etc...) Windows has gone down dramatically.

        Especially because back then, you still needed MS-DOS to run underneath Windows.

      • Re:To be fair... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Enderandrew (866215) <.enderandrew. .at. .gmail.com.> on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @02:06PM (#31417392) Homepage Journal

        Software should gain new features with each version. The addditional functionality of the OS should be a given over the years.

        I'll give you that they aren't jacking the price of the Home version given the price in 1985, but have you seen their Enterprise Server pricing model?

        Let's say you're a small business that needs 25 seats.

        You pay for a server license for your domain controller, and a server license for a backup domain controller. Since you're a small shop, that is also the box you run Exchange off of. For both Windows Server and Exchange, you need CALs in addition to the server licenses.

        Then each end user basically needs a SEPERATE client license from the CAL, since their individual desktop OSes need a license, and for email, they need Outlook licenses.

        Shouldn't the server CAL effectively be the same thing as the client software license? They're double-dipping on what is already a very expensive license.

        Home users pirate Windows en-masse, or get it pre-installed with their computer via a cheap OEM license bundled in. Microsoft makes their money on enterprise licensing, where they do jack their prices.

        • by b0bby (201198)

          Let's say you're a small business that needs 25 seats.

          You pay for a server license for your domain controller, and a server license for a backup domain controller. Since you're a small shop, that is also the box you run Exchange off of. For both Windows Server and Exchange, you need CALs in addition to the server licenses.

          Then each end user basically needs a SEPERATE client license from the CAL, since their individual desktop OSes need a license, and for email, they need Outlook licenses.

          If you're a small business that needs 25 seats you should buy SBS 2008, and the appropriate number of CALs. If you want a BDC, you buy the Premium version. You even get vm licenses. With 2008, you do need to buy Office or Outlook for Exchange access, unless your users are ok with the OWA (which is actually pretty good). I think the real money is made from larger enterprises, the SBS stuff is really pretty decently priced.

        • "Software should gain new features with each version. The addditional functionality of the OS should be a given over the years. I'll give you that they aren't jacking the price of the Home version given the price in 1985, but have you seen their Enterprise Server pricing model?

          You're right. So we should compare the pricing to the Enterprise Server Edition of Windows in 1985. Oh, wait... that's a non-existent product.

          You can only compare the pricing of the home version since that's the only version r
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by aztracker1 (702135)
            We could compare to Netware, Lantastic and other solutions that were displaced by the Windows Server solutions though...
      • Re:To be fair... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by obarthelemy (160321) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @02:07PM (#31417408)

        to be REALLY fair, windows 7's market is bigger than Windows 1.0's was.1985 = 30 million PCs, 2007 = 1 billion PCs . Since costs are fairly fixed (dev accounts for a lot, DVD+packaging for almost nothing), we could expect the price to be $200 x 30 / 1,000 = $6, assuming stable dev costs, which they obviously weren't quite... but that raw calculation is no dumber than yours... actually may be a bit smarter .

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Whalou (721698)
          Don't forget that Microsoft saves a ton of money by not shipping Windows 7 on floppy disks.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Fred_A (10934)

            Don't forget that Microsoft saves a ton of money by not shipping Windows 7 on floppy disks.

            True, I did ask to get it on 1600 floppies since my DVD drive was busted and they wouldn't even reply to my polite email. Typical Microsoft.

      • Re:To be fair... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by zennyboy (1002544) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @02:08PM (#31417414)
        I think people mainly think of as % of a complete PC. PC then? $3-5000? Windows $99. Do the maths... Now, PC=£400 (dunno in $). Windows=$200... NOW do the maths...
      • by GigG (887839)
        They haven't raised the price because it has been made up in volume. How many copies of that $99 version of Windows sold as compared with Windows 7? Any thing else with that sort of volume increase would be selling for $9.95 now.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by BatGnat (1568391)
        it is not the price of MS software that was raising issues of monopolization, it was the heavy handed business practices, and forcing other competitors out of business...
      • You obviously have no idea of anticompetitive business. First off, a monopoly doesn't necessitate any kind of behavior, especially not price gouging. In fact price dumping to undercut competitors is a classic monopolistic practice.
        When netbook manufacturers started selling machines with Linux on a fairly large scale, they effectively decided to dump XP.

        I needn't eleborate any further on Microsofts anti-competitive practices, this is Slashdot after all. But the fact that Windows has improved over the years i

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      I'm so confused! This goes against everything that me and millions of others were taught. I was so *sure* that Windows had its origin in a golden, seductive ring of incalculable power...or was it a tower in Redmond topped by a lidless eye of flaming malice?

    • by doomy (7461)

      If you thought that was crazy, see something recent.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-8IufkbuD0&NR

  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @01:15PM (#31416696) Journal

    ...of Windows 1.02 (or was it 1.12) on 720k, 3.5" floppy. And no, I never used it - DOS was king and there were better file management programs at the time (which is all Win was at that point, iirc).

  • MS (Score:2, Interesting)

    by oldhack (1037484)

    It's just like MS. They may not succeed at first... Actually, they never succeed at first try, at anything.

    And yet, they manage eventually - see how they kicked out Trevor in the end. It's no coincidence.

    • Re:MS (Score:4, Interesting)

      by asdf7890 (1518587) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @01:21PM (#31416770)

      It's just like MS. They may not succeed at first... Actually, they never succeed at first try, at anything.

      Hence some people won't touch anything Microsoft until the third major release.

      • by pluther (647209)

        I remember a timeline they had out in ads back in 1989 that mentioned among other things that Windows 3.1 was "The world's first graphic operating system."

        Even if it had been true that Windows was first, I kept wondering at the time what about versions 1 or 2 or even 3.0?

  • Oi woz there (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tverbeek (457094) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @01:21PM (#31416766) Homepage

    I remember the feeble beginnings of Windows quite well. I started purchasing Windows with 1.04, and started using it with 3.0.

    I used to list "Windows 1.0 - [current version]" on the skills section of my resume, but too many interviewers thought I was joking, because they'd never heard of such a thing (and it started making me look like I might be over 30). One of them seriously thought Windows started with 95.

    • by Sir_Lewk (967686)

      I started purchasing Windows with 1.04, and started using it with 3.0.

      Wow, so you were buying software that you weren't even using. That is.... I don't even know what. "Special" maybe.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Chyeld (713439)

        Back before Bit Torrent, sometimes you actually had to pay for software before you'd know if it was any good.

        • by Sir_Lewk (967686)

          Or you know, ask someone else, or read reviews of it, or any number of other things.

          What would even compel someone to bother checking out windows ever again after seeing Windows 1? Was he just buying every version of every piece of software on the shelves, just to see if it was any good?

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            The problem with 'just asking someone' is at the time very few people had experience with it. Ask them about windows and they would say 'anderson or pela?'. It probably wasnt up on an BBS's to 'just try out'. So yes you ordered it and gave it a go. Realized it was crap. Waited a few versions and try again.

            DOS while 'ok for its time'. Was mind numbly tedious to use. So any sort of gui was a good idea. The problem with windows was too little memory to run it AND your applications properly.

          • by Chyeld (713439)

            Perhaps not every piece of software, perhaps just the software that fit in the category he was interested in? Such as replacements/shells for DOS.

            Especially as, as mentioned, Windows 1.0 had a 'rep' already.

        • by Reece400 (584378)
          Or you'd borrow a copy of a copy of someone else's floppyies... or download a copy from a BBS over a few nights...
      • by tverbeek (457094)

        I prefer to think of it as being willing to experiment with developing technology, and maybe even invest a little money in its development. ("What? Pay money to support something? Unheard of!" the modern kids exclaim.) I bought Windows 1.0 because I wanted a way to switch between apps quickly, and Microsoft claimed it would do that. I tried it for a while... and gave up. I upgraded to Windows 2.0 because the reviews all said "hey, this is better, it kinda works" and I was desperate enough to give it an

    • One of them seriously thought Windows started with 95.

      Well, there you have someone who won’t get your work anytime soon. ^^

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dcollins (135727)

      "One of them seriously thought Windows started with 95."

      Ouch. Wow.

  • Windows has been around for 25 years, and the windowing GUI probably longer (I believe Bill took the concept from Steve who took the concept from Xerox). And lets face it, Compiz does not qualify as a new type of GUI. I would love to see a brand new concepts, such as Sun's Looking Glass https://lg3d.dev.java.net/ [java.net] (now defunct) (or perhaps even better ideas then that, anyone knows of any?) But it would be nice to get more innovation in that department.
    • No one needs innovation. We just need simplicity and reliability. Still I expect KDE 4.5 would meet all my needs.

      But generally speaking Desktop Environments are obsolete.

      • by DAldredge (2353)
        What do you think this? "But generally speaking Desktop Environments are obsolete."
        • by ctishman (545856)
          In the consumer realm, I agree. They stand between the user and the content which is their end goal. Consumers want a webpage-like interface without having to learn a desktop metaphor.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mini me (132455)

      would love to see a brand new concepts

      You mean like iPhone OS? Call the iPad a gimmick if you want, but it does bring with it a brand new concept on human-computer interaction. One that I feel will carry over into traditional keyboard/mouse computing in the future.

    • http://www.pbs.org/nerds/part3.html [pbs.org]

      It's a bit old by now, but the history is still interesting and meaningful.

      http://www.pbs.org/nerds/part2.html [pbs.org]
      http://www.pbs.org/nerds/part1.html [pbs.org]

      They can really be read in any order.

      Anyways, I don't think stole is the right word. Xerox gave it away. Jobs was 100% obsessed with it. Gates saw it as the wave of the future. The GUI wasn't a secret by the time it got to Gates. But it was done by Xerox who was too busy worrying about laser printing (which oddly is
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by samkass (174571)

      (I believe Bill took the concept from Steve who bought the concept from Xerox)

      Just corrected that common misconception in your statement. Apple actually paid Xerox in Apple shares for those visits, and at the time it was said to be the most lucrative thing PARC had done up to then.

  • Tandy Trower, the product manager who finally got Windows 1.0 out the door a quarter century ago, has written a memoir of the experience. (He thought being assigned the much-maligned project was Microsoft's fiendish way of trying to get rid of him.) The story involves such still-significant figures as Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, Ray Ozzie, and Nathan Myhrvold; Trower left Microsoft only in November of 2009 after 28 years with the company."

    It's boggled my mind why Search Indexer in Vista has been killing my c

    • Yeah, I can. Basically the indexer is indexing things so you can find them faster in the future. How often do you really search for things? I don't search my computer very much at all. So basically indexing everything to reduce the time it takes to find a file from 10 minutes to 10 seconds wouldn't be worth the cpu ( and HD IOPS) it took to achieve that. Plus, it might not be restricting itself to relevant files, and looking at all files. If you could easily specify specific locations and file types to inde
  • by coofercat (719737) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @01:31PM (#31416900) Homepage Journal

    1985: Windows 1.0
    2010: Windows 7

    1 release every 3.5 years? At that sort of rate you'd think they'd be completely bug free ;-)

    PS. Article is in 3 pages that will take you about 3.5 years to read, and another 3.5 regretting.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Enderandrew (866215)

      Windows 1
      Windows 2
      Windows 3
      Windows NT 3.1
      Windows 3.11 for Workgroups
      Windows NT 3.5
      Windows 95
      Windows NT 4
      Windows 98
      Windows 98SE
      Windows ME
      Windows 2000 (with Pro, Advanced, etc. etc.)
      Windows XP
      Windows XP x64
      Windows Media Center 2005
      Windows Tablet
      Windows Vista
      Windows Media Center 2008
      Windows Media Center 2008 R2
      Windows 7

      I can honestly say I've used everything from Windows 3.1 on, except the Tablet edition. Windows CE, Server, and Mobile editions were left out.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        You know, I just realized that Windows 7 being the 7th version of Windows isn't too far from the truth: Assuming we only look at major home versions (skipping NT and 2000), I see 8. I'm left wondering which OS they skipped.

        Perhaps they merged 95 with 98 or Vista with 7? On second thought, it's definitely ME. There is no way that thing ever existed, kind of like MS Bob...

        Windows 1
        Windows 2
        Windows 3
        Windows 95
        Windows 98
        Windows ME
        Windows XP
        Windows Vista
        Windows 7

        Actually, we know that it's based off of the N

  • ancient history (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Speare (84249) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @01:32PM (#31416904) Homepage Journal

    This brings back memories for me, too. I got my start before IBM came out with their first PC. My dad owned an early PC, and I used PC-DOS and MS-DOS versions up through the whole bleeding history. I used Windows 1.0 on those lovely old monochrome monitors, and was working on a GUI for a data collection circuit in college. Then 2.0/286/etc. with the proportional fonts and an untiled desktop. I beta-tested for 3.0, and joined Microsoft in time to be a part of the Windows 3.1 development team. Those were the fun days; most of those who hated Microsoft just preferred the technologies in other products from Lotus, Borland, or various Unix providers. And that was really just fine with everyone. Everyone but Microsoft management, of course. Managers steered the ship ever more steadily to the dark side, building on their success with monopoly-abusing deals and secret contracts with the OEMs. Ship a CPU, pay for Windows whether you use it or not. I left the company (for unrelated reasons) around the time when "Windows 95" was still code-named "Chicago," and that code name had just replaced the earlier code name: "Windows 93."

    By the way, if anyone has an unmodified copy of Win3.10 (not 3.11) USER.EXE, shoot me an email. I've lost some of my ancient archives and would like to snag some of the resources in that file.

    • by Blakey Rat (99501)

      By the way, if anyone has an unmodified copy of Win3.10 (not 3.11) USER.EXE, shoot me an email. I've lost some of my ancient archives and would like to snag some of the resources in that file.

      A current MS employee could get it off ProductsWeb, if you still know any. Unfortunately, I lost my access to that a few months ago when Microsoft sold my company.

  • Ah The Good Ol' Days (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Greyfox (87712) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @01:42PM (#31417054) Homepage Journal
    I remember an early version of Windows (Maybe 2?) on a PC at a university where my dad taught. It was kind of crappy -- looked sort of like Apple's ProDOS. Not much more than a file shell, really. Later on I picked up a job doing OS/2 V2 tech support at IBM. There weren't many OS/2 version 1 installs inside the support organization at that point, but they had to keep a few since the Navy was still on V1.2 and some big banks still used 1.3 in their ATMs. OS/2 version 1 looked exactly like windows 3.1.

    I used to say at the time that if they wanted to illustrate the difference between OS/2 and windows, they could just format a floppy on OS/2 while continuing to do other stuff. Not that OS/2 was a whole lot better about stuff like that -- not many developers actually threaded their applications, and so a single misbehaving app could lock up the OS by not processing its input queue messages. You still see symptoms of that in Windows today, although it's not as bad as it used to be.

    They tried to fix that and some of the other OS/2 problems in Warp, but warp (IMO) looked like ass and didn't work as well as V2. The problem with IBM is they're used to listening to their corporate customers and wouldn't know sexy OS design if you beat them over the head with it. Fortunately Linux was just getting popular right around that time and so when IBM strangled the baby (You can tell I'm still a bit bitter about it eh? Heh heh heh) a lot of us were able to jump ship. Linux was pretty much everything I ever wanted in an operating system, anyway. I'm on OSX at the moment, but once you get past its pretty looks you realize that it just won't bend the way you want it to.

    So... anyway, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, Get off my lawn, you damn kids!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by aztracker1 (702135)
      I liked the OS/2 warp UI myself... I liked it a lot better than windows 3.x, I remember IBM releasing it's Presentation Manager as a UI replacement for Windows 3.x, I used that a lot. I think IBM's downfall was not embracing developers. I think if IBM game away it's developer tools for OS/2 it would be king of the hill today, and they'd have made a killing on OS sales. I think the other issue is that other vendors didn't want to buy their OS from a desktop competitor. OS/2 could have been great a few ye
  • I'm not sure I spelled that right, but anyway, Microsoft did manage to unload a boatload of V1.0 on the Navy at the least. I remember playing with it on the 286's the military had no clue what to do with. Instead of the infamous solitaire game it use to have reversie - a digital version of the othello game.

    Even years late I was still happier with DOS 6.1 and Quarterdeck memory/application management. It was the only way to go to host a BBS and still have a little room to work on it while it was up.

    Ah the g

    • by corbettw (214229)

      You used Windows 1.0 in the Navy? Can't imagine why you'd be attracted to a program called Quarterdeck, then.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by coreolyn (65876)

        The navy had no clue what to do with the x286 Dos based PC's and just had piles of them sitting lifeless in corners. Most work was done in CPM. PIP'n this and PIP'n that ;)

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by nsaspook (20301)

      I'm not sure I spelled that right, but anyway, Microsoft did manage to unload a boatload of V1.0 on the Navy at the least. I remember playing with it on the 286's the military had no clue what to do with. Instead of the infamous solitaire game it use to have reversie - a digital version of the othello game.

      Even years late I was still happier with DOS 6.1 and Quarterdeck memory/application management. It was the only way to go to host a BBS and still have a little room to work on it while it was up.

      Ah the good 'ol days when I was considered a genius simply because I did my own memory upgrades to my Tandy 1000...

      I did contracting for NAVSEA and NAVMASSO back then on the SNAP program. We sold a lot of 286 boxes just so people could run WordStar on DOS and WordMARC on PCs. I still have (somewhere) my old DOS 1.0 , Netscape 1.0 and Windows 1.0 disks.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by schon (31600)

      the 286's the military had no clue what to do with

      I find it hard to believe that the Navy couldn't recognize a boat anchor when it saw one.

      /me ducks :)

  • Windows history (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PPH (736903) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @02:14PM (#31417516)

    I remember Windows. Back when I used to work for a little fly-by-night aerospace firm just down the road from Microsoft. We (engineering) were all using Macs for our 'productivity' applications. Serious work was done on VAX and various flavors of UNIX on mainframes/minis. It was the mid-90's. Windows had already been 'released' through version 3, but our IT department still considered it to be a joke. Unfortunately, someone in corporate had already drank the Microsoft Koolaide. The order was issued: We're going to become a Windows company. A cost justification was prepared, comparing a typical Mac, populated with every possible document/spreadsheet/database application to a bare bones DOS box. No Windows, no apps. Nothing but a C:> prompt. The DOS box won (go figure) and we all figured that the fix was in. The IT folks, under orders from management, started delivering empty DOS machines to our desks (Dells). So we could watch the little cursor blink, I guess. Meanwhile, the IT department was kicked into panic mode. They were tasked with running over to Redmond and sitting on Gates' head until MS delivered something that didn't stink. Meanwhile, for about 3 months, that damned machine just sat on my desk next to my Mac, taking up room, winking its stupid cursor at me.

    At about this time, Linux passed the 1.0 kernel version and started to look interesting. I requested the requisite authorizations and installed it on the useless Dell. I never looked back. I could log on to any of the engineering systems through X Windows and (thanks to a Citrix app) eventually access MS Office apps hosted on remote NT servers. Until I left in 2003 (when they transferred engineering to their overseas units) I ran Linux on my desktop. So, thanks Microsoft. I you'd have had a viable GUI back then, I'd probably still be sitting in front of it reading PowerPoint presentations (the only thing the remains of our engineering group uses) innstead of running my own engineering firm.

  • by indian_rediff (166093) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @02:44PM (#31417896) Journal

    It was 1987. I was in Texas, working for a bank (as a consultant, installing some mainframe software for them), when the VP dropped by and asked whether I would want to see something new. He had an old guy pounding away at a new fangled thing called a personal computer (for them). I was more than happy to indulge him.

    Windows 2.0 was it! The key things that I remember doing are that the PC I used had no mouse. Since I was a mainframe type, everything was keyboard based in my prior life. I assumed that there must be special keystrokes that I needed to use to play with the new computer.

    Over a period of a few days, I stumbled on the keyboard shortcuts and familiarised myself completely with all of them. The amazing thing is that most of them are still relevant today - and my kids bug me to show them how to switch between windows quickly! In fact, I am amazed at how few people know many of the short cuts and the various ways in which you can play with computer without using the mouse! But I digress.

    Next week the VP dropped by again and asked whether I could install a game for him. I went ahead and installed the floppies (and they were real 5.25" floppies - not diskettes). And I started playing my first graphical game - Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards [wikipedia.org]! Long story short - it was a fun few days while we indulged the old man (the Veep) and saw the various aspects of the game.

    I remember wondering about the keyboard shortcuts and wishing they were not so complicated.

    My next encounter with PCs was not until a couple of years later - Windows 3.1, a mouse and Quicken! And boy did I have a learning curve with the mouse! At first I thought the mouse was optional. It took me a good year or so to start using it without having to think about it.

    Good times ... until the Linux revolution began.

  • Mach 10 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rickb928 (945187) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @03:30PM (#31418606) Homepage Journal

    My stepfather gave me a Christmas present; A Mach 10 board with a copy 'Windows'.

    He also gave me a game. Balance of Power.

    Oh

    My

    God

    I frittered away hours, days, weeks, trying to survive without being thrown out of office at the end of the first term. It took me two weeks to keep from blowing up the world in a half hour of play.

    The game never made it to any other version of Windows, but crap, it was magnificent. In fact, I may play it again [homeoftheunderdogs.net].

    ps- My rig back then was an XT clone, 4.77/8MHz, 2 720k FDD, 20MB HD (ST228, I think), and CGA. Wicked decent. Getting an EGA board and monitor was a big step. The Mach board had LIM memory on it. A whopping 1MB, which cost me well over $500 and three trips back to swap bad chips. Ah, the memorys...

  • Shoulda been Xenix (Score:4, Interesting)

    by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Tuesday March 09, 2010 @04:32PM (#31419480) Homepage Journal

    Back during the DOS 2.0 days, Microsoft intended for Xenix to be the successor to DOS. And the worst of Xenix was still preferable to the best of Windows.

      Microsoft had several opportunities to ubiquitize a quality operating system, irrespective of their horrific business practices. They could have built their next-gen OS on top of Xenix. They could have finished the OS/2 project instead of stabbing IBM in the back and doing Windows on top of DOS. They could have even completed Dave Cutler's vision for Windows NT instead of MAKING THE SAME MISTAKE TWICE and top-loading all of their crap into the Win32 layer instead of building around the NT microkernel.

      They could have done any of the above, and still practiced their bullshit monopolistic business practices, and they could have still taken over the market. In fact, if they had built Presentation Manager on top of Xenix, it's entirely possible that Linux would not exist today, and the X Window System would never have evolved past the days of TWM and Athena Widgets because all the unixheads would have happily moved to the commodity operating system.

      But no. Aside from being monopolistic bullies in the marketplace, they also consistently deliver really bad products. There is a reason Linux has already overtaken Windows in the enterprise computing market, and has denied them a monopoly in this area. People who run back end data center applications don't want an operating system that has a GUI intertwined with the bottom layers of
    the OS. They don't want mouse clicks in the same event queue as disk and network I/O. Windows is a bullshit design and it will never be adequate.

Stinginess with privileges is kindness in disguise. -- Guide to VAX/VMS Security, Sep. 1984

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