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You’ve heard the stories about how Microsoft and Bill Gates got the operating system business with IBM and how Gary Kildall and Digital Research lost the deal.
But I’ve always wondered about why Gary was out flying that day.
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).
This is still the biggest business story in the tech industry. It is one that business school students will study for a long time.
It’s a story of arrogance. Legal misjudgments. Misjudging the players. And an abiding deep friendship that comes through.
If there’s a piece of video that will probably outlast me this is it.
Actually there’s four pieces. The first hour you meet Tom and hear the story of when IBM came to visit. That’s the interview that was put up today.
The second piece takes us to a restaurant where Tom tells lots of fun early industry stories.
The third piece takes us on a tour of Pacific Grove which is where Digital Research was located. We take you to the house where IBM visited Digital Research.
The fourth piece is where Tom introduces you to his new company, Crossloop, which is developing software to enable you to help others with their computer problems.
One interesting thing you’ll learn?
Bill Gates and Microsoft didn’t want the operating system business and sent IBM down to Digital Research.
Oh, and thank you to Tom and Mrinal Desai of Crossloop. He wrote me a few weeks ago on Facebook and said that his new boss was the one flying with Gary Kildall that fateful day.
Have you ever blown a multi-hundred-billion-dollar business deal? Me neither.
But now you can say you’ve met one of the guys who can say that.
Another thing you’ll learn? Why we all owe a debt of gratitude to Gary Kildall for the modern operating system architecture.
There’s a lot more, but it’s better just to watch the videos. Hope you find this as interesting as I do.
Oh, and if someone can post these to Gary Kildall’s wikipedia page, I’d be most grateful.
The beginning of the video brings introductions — I started filming the minute we got out of my car (you meet Buzz Bruggeman, CEO of ActiveWords, and Patrick Scoble, my son, and Mrinal). I think this is interesting stuff so we don’t edit it. The meat of the story starts up at about 16 minutes into the video, but I think you’ll find the rest of the conversation interesting. It’s one of the most interesting conversations I’ve ever been a part of.