Skip to comments.William Lowe, the 'father of the IBM PC,' dies at 72
Posted on 10/29/2013 10:24:45 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach
After his proposal for a quick market entry via Atari was rejected, Lowe was given one year to design and produce a personal computer that would be market-ready.
(Excerpt) Read more at news.cnet.com ...
Makes me feel old. He didn’t die, his PIC quit. RIP.
My condolences to the family of Mr Lowe, but the article is mistaken. Philip Don Estridge is the "Father of the IBM PC" and he passed away in a plane crash in 1985.
Another one bytes the dust. [sigh]
Prior to the introduction of the IBM PC, there were PCs with a hundred IRQs and other great technological features. The IBM PC set a standard, but it was a leap backwards technology wise. IBM wanted to ensure the PC never replaced the mainframe in office settings. I was happy to see IBM leave the PC market.
He was simply nibbled to death. *goingtohell*
” there were PCs with a hundred IRQs “
The IBM-PC had 256 IRQs.
Had no idea.
Considering its OS and architecture it should of been called ‘Lowputer’.
The other PCs had those IRQs available for user addons. The IBM didn't.
I wonder how many can be blamed on this guy, or did he fight against them?
did you mean “proprietary?”
The Intel chip provided the IRQs and there were and are 256 of them. You might be thinking about the hardware interrupts, which there were 15 available. (16 total but one, IRQ 2, was used to chain two PICs together. Each PIC had 8 interrupt lines.)
How would the computer world be different if IBM handled the PC like their typical in-house projects with secret schematics and custom chips (or renumbered standard chips with non-standard pinouts)?
Lowe argued for an open design, thinking third party products such as hardware add-ons and software would create a larger market, licensing opportunities, and dominance of the market, would outweigh a closed design and high licensing fees IBM was known for. He was right.
What he didn’t count on was losing a lawsuit about the ability to black box the BIOS that would allow other companies to clone the PC.
Black boxing was the process in which there were two teams; one would discover the capabilities of the BIOS and another would build a new BIOS completely from generic technical requirements the first team wrote. The second team would never lay eyes on or touch a real BIOS.
In other words, the second team would create a new BIOS using a list of features the first team discovered but never directly copying from the IBM BIOS.
IBM thought for sure they’d win that lawsuit, but they didn’t. That lawsuit opened the doors for all kinds of intellectual property theft. One good thing is that it did lead to further patent laws protecting software. Patent laws are not perfect yet but it helped.
Yeah - looks like the spell checker bit me!
The PC would have died as it was expensive. Other companies like Acorn Computers (Ironic that the IBM was code named ‘Acorn’) now produces the ARM chip which is used in most hand held devices like cell phones. There would have still been massive competition but I think the market would have stagnated for a number of years. However, we might have had some great breakthroughs in technology instead of the same-old PC we’ve had. I love the PC but what might have been otherwise?
You are correct. The IBM PC greatly limited the hardware interrupts.
Total change of topic, and technically I suppose are right, but to me "passing away" in a "plane crash" don't seem to belong in the same sentence.
No biggie, just sayin'
The IBM Instruments division had a machine that was more powerful at the time also.
They tried something like that in the late 1980’s with the PS/2 with a proprietary bus. It was up there with the PC Junior in product blunders.
I think they finally broke that insanity sometime in the 1990s.
Yes, and if those laws were on the books in the 1970’s and 80’s Gates, Baller, Jobs and Wozniak would still be in prison. What a wonderful world we would have now if those thieving pricks had been locked up, right?
Just about anything “good” requires a Skunk Works type of operation, far enough away from corporate to get something done.
“What a wonderful world we would have now if those thieving pricks had been locked up, right?”
You assume they are criminals and would have violated the law to the point of being locked up. I don’t think they are the criminals you say they are. I think they would have still innovated otherwise.
P.S. Outside of IBM-PC DOS, Microsoft already was a multi-million dollar company. In fact, they were a Unix shop and a language shop. Again, I think there might have been a far more innovative market had IBM went closed design on their PC. We already had an amazing amount of tinkerers and innovators trying to make their mark.
My nephew had a PC Jr. He became the tech advisor to the office staff when he was in middle school. None of the adults could figure anything out.
Except the only difference between their innovations and theft are the words on paper called the law. Jobs and the engineers he purloined from Xerox would have had cells in the same block with Gates and the Seattle computer shop guys. And I imagine IBM and the clone makers would have been Ed Roberts’ bitches for the liberties taken with the Altair bus.
Microsoft was damned lucky that Gary Kildall was too nice of a guy and not savvy enough to fight the whole DOS issue.
At least Big Blue learned to build a proper keyboard after that fiasco. The Model M was a beast!
“Microsoft was damned lucky that Gary Kildall was too nice of a guy and not savvy enough to fight the whole DOS issue.”
Kindall signed all document of his own free will. In fact, Kindall had full authority to also sell DOS. He didn’t lose that right. Kindall had no legal claims, contrary to your assertion.
“Jobs and the engineers he purloined from Xerox”
Get real. Everything Jobs did with Xerox was legal and paid for. Xerox simply had no interest in their inventions and did nothing with them. They had every right to use them. Instead, they thought of them as junk and shared them to Jobs to use.
Your hatred of those that succeeded and got rich is well noted. Very liberal of you.
Yeah, and we’re talking about how Jobs would have been treated back then under today’s IP law. Sure, everything he did in then was perfectly legal. Today he would have been in jail for a long, long time. Oh, and for the liberal parting shot....GFY.
You're right though, the Phoenix BIOS was what made clones very possible. And it was constructed just as you stated.
Just a hater of the wealthy. Been a liberal long? Probably all your life. Hated anyone that was your boss, the owners, even the guy driving a nice car down the road beside you.
“IBM PUBLISHED the BIOS code “
Yes, they did. It was part of their plant to “poison the well” of engineers that could reverse engineer a better and compatible one. Unfortunately for IBM several key players found means to not read the BIOS source code and instead used the BIOS interface specifications itself to devise what the IOS must do and let the black box guys write a new, and sometimes better, system.
It was all fun and games and people made money. Good money, too.
Been a child molester long? Probably all your life. See...I can make shit up about you, too. I would call you clueless, but that would be slanderous to the clueless of the world.
That would be DAL flt 191 which crashed in Dallas on August 2,1985 ... That flight had DOZENS of IBM’s finest from the PC development group on board ... returning from a company paid vacation in Hawaii ... that one crash could have ended IBM if a few other key players were on board .. IBM changed their internal rules regarding air travel afterwards.
This crash is one that every private pilot studies.
Of course Killdal had the right to sell his own software. But good effort at splitting hairs, there. That doesn’t change the fact of where what became PC DOS came from. Sure, Gates and Allen became very wealthy off of that deal. Good for them. But don’t go trying to pass off Gates as being such a great technical innovator with DOS when someone else wrote it and what he sold to IBM was a rip off of CP/M.
MS made significant changes to DOS before they gave it to IBM. They worked day and night for months to get it ready. Even then, they gave Killdal the right to the result. Killdal simply did nothing with it.
Basically, they snookered him. “Here you go, Gary...we’ll give everyone who buys an IBM PC the option of PC DOS or CP/M.” Of course they didn’t tell him that DOS was going to be bundled in for $40 but CP/M was going to cost $240. Gates and Co. were much better at conning and scamming people than they were at innovation.