The rest of the story: How Bill Gates beat Gary Kildall in OS war, Part 1

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You’ve heard the story. Bill Gates and Microsoft became a hugely successful business after it bought DOS from a small computer store in Seattle and licensed it to IBM. But what really happened? Did you know that Bill Gates didn’t want the operating system business at first, for instance? Did you know that Gary Kildall, founder of Digital Research and inventor of CPM (the other operating system being considered for IBM PCs) was flying the day that IBM came visiting? You might know that, but do you know the rest of the story? Here it is. Tom Rolander was the guy flying with Gary Kildall and tells the other side of the story everyone in technology should know. Tom was Gary’s best friend and tells the story about what Gary really gave all of us — an operating system architecture that continues to be used today. Also seen in the video is Mrinal Desai, VP of sales and business development at CrossLoop (Tom’s newest company, which we’ll discuss in a separate video).

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12 Responses to “The rest of the story: How Bill Gates beat Gary Kildall in OS war, Part 1”

  1. Bryan Wilhite Says:

    This is a great “sequel” or supplement to the required classic Triumph of the Nerds. Why do so many folks forget about the elusive Robert X. Cringely?

  2. Mrinal Says:

    Robert - it was Tom and my pleasure to have you (and Buzz and Patrick) in our small office and spending all day with you.

    Its really awesome that you are bringing out a story that a few people have right - straight from the horse’s mouth! :)

  3. Mrinal Says:

    Robert - it was a pleasure for Tom and I to have you in our small office and spend the day with you. As you would have noticed, we like to laugh a lot too :)

    It is fantastic to see you bring out a story that a few people have right - straight from the horse’s mouth.

  4. The rest of the story behind Microsoft’s OS deal with IBM « Scobleizer Says:

    […] So when I got a chance to sit down with Gary Kildall’s best friend and FLYING PARTNER that day I jumped at the chance. That’s Tom Rolander who held a key role inside Digital Research (the folks who made CPM which, back before the IBM PC, was one of the most popular personal computer OS of the day — my dad had a CPM card for our Apple IIs so we could run software designed for it). […]

  5. Judd Feuerstein Says:

    Tom comes across as a very likeable person. For the sake of fairness, though, you’ll want to read Tim Paterson’s version of the DOS vs. CP/M history posted here:

  6. indian auto crazy Says:

    Bill Gates has taken technology to such great heights. He has single handedly created an industry, which is becoming (or hasnt it already?!?!) the essence of our lives?!

  7. Bill Gates And Gary Kildall “OS war - Part 1″ » D’ Technology Weblog: Technology News & Reviews Says:

    […] Source:? Technorati Tags: Bill Gates, DOS, Gary Kildall, IBM, Microsoft, Online Video, Operating System, OS, OS War Video, Seattle Share This Close […]

  8. Walking tour of Pacific Grove « Scobleizer Says:

    […] By the way, in the first part of my interview with Tom Rolander he mentioned a libel lawsuit with Tim Paterson, the guy who sold DOS to Bill Gates. Well, Tim gives his part of the story on his blog. This is a remarkable age where we can get perspectives on a significant historical event from the people involved. […]

  9. Joe Wein’s blog » Blog Archive » Robert Scoble on “How Bill Gates beat Gary Kildall” Says:

    […] If you’re interested in the history of personal computers and the software industry, Robert Scoble’s one hour show on “How Bill Gates beat Gary Kildall in OS war” is well worth watching. In an interview Tom Rolander, who worked with Gary Kildall when IBM came to talk about an operating system for their yet unannounced PC, talks about how Microsoft came to pick up the contract that set the foundation for its Windows empire, while DRI lost it’s role as the operating system standard of the early microcomputer industry. […]

  10. Jim R. Benfer Jr. Says:

    Thanks for these great pieces! We’ve put them up on the front page of the official Digital Research web site at where you can find much more information about Gary & Dorothy and Digital Research.

  11. Brian Heys Writes » Scobleizer breaks from blogging Says:

    […] The great news is ‘The Scoble Show‘ is continuing, and if you haven’t been over there before, you’ve missed out on some excellent video interviews. The best ones of late were the interviews with Tom Rolander who was out flying with Gary Kildall of Digital Research when IBM were looking for an operating system for their new personal computer -¬†absolutely essential viewing if you’re interested in tech history. […]

  12. Big Bill Says:

    You really want to know? Call some of hte old patent attorneys who supported IBM’s Boca operation and ask them about tehstories going around. How Kildall’s wife stalled them and made them sit around, and how she got snippy and p!ssy with them about some NDA she wanted them to sign. Guys, don’t let your wife anywhere near your clients of business. Of course Kildall f’ed up not being there when he was supposed to, but such is life.

    As one who tried to tailor a CP/M bios to a Z-80 box and an HD64180 box in the very early 80’s, I can assure you that Kildall’s folks was less than responsive.

    Once he got his b*tt in gear and stopped playing hobbyist, he turned out a great DR-DOS, though.

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