Walking tour of Pacific Grove — where CPM was invented

[podtech content=http://media1.podtech.net/media/2007/08/PID_012167/Podtech_TomRolander_Part3.flv&postURL=http://www.podtech.net/home/3826/part-iii-of-conversations-with-tom-rolander &totalTime=818000&breadcrumb=9488dcfff4ee405f8f866071b4db2ed9]

If you visit Pacific Grove you’ll see no visible reminders of the once-great Digital Research, makers of CPM. There are no plaques. No historical markers. It’s just the fading memory of people who were part of the computer industry in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

It’s why I try to interview as many “grey beards” as possible, so we can get these stories down before they disappear forever.

Here we take a walking tour with Tom Rolander (one of the key executives at Digital Research). You see the house where IBM visited and tech industry history was changed forever.

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.

I wonder how we can preserve all of these perspectives so that people 100 or, even, 1,000 years from now can understand what happened and why the world has Microsoft and not Digital Research? After all, we still talk about CocaCola’s beginnings and its impact on the world. Did you know that CocaCola’s bottling rights were sold for $1?

One thing is I hope others join me in getting important historical stories on video. If you have someone in your life who played a key role in tech industry history I’d love to see them talk about it. The folks who built the personal computer industry are now 50 to 60 years old. We’ve already lost many who came before, like Hewlett and Packard. It would be a shame to lose these stories forever since we now have the ability to get them down and share them with the world.

56 thoughts on “Walking tour of Pacific Grove — where CPM was invented

  1. What leaves me in awe is how there was so much done with the tiny amount of addressable memory less than thirty years ago. Our first CNC machine tool was a 1977 Hurco, based on a Bridgeport Knee mill. Without that guy that wrote the code for the 8080, we would have been out of business. Perhaps my life would have been better in that case as I would have left the machining business behind and gone on to far more rewarding ventures. In fact, I cannot think of any creative enterprises that are less rewarding than metalcutting.
    Cry over spilled beer, har, the guy that wrote the code for the first truly succesful low end CNC machine tool did it on contract for a six week exercise in binary coding. That old 8080 control killed the processing speed of any microprocessor based control for many years. The faster ones had to rely upon DEC PDP8a/11, etc to get similar results for axis control.
    So many in the past have pissed away their talents in doing low return consumer oriented programs when a few innovations could have wiped out the laggard Japanese (that deserved to be run over) machine tool controls.
    BTW, the Japanese controls have not advanced in user software in the past thirty years. They are better at peripheral control such as axis and spindle drives, but have exceptionally backward user features.
    They are sitting ducks even in such simple programming features as multiple offsets for workpieces, and being able to re-start on some position in a repetitive geometry.

  2. What leaves me in awe is how there was so much done with the tiny amount of addressable memory less than thirty years ago. Our first CNC machine tool was a 1977 Hurco, based on a Bridgeport Knee mill. Without that guy that wrote the code for the 8080, we would have been out of business. Perhaps my life would have been better in that case as I would have left the machining business behind and gone on to far more rewarding ventures. In fact, I cannot think of any creative enterprises that are less rewarding than metalcutting.
    Cry over spilled beer, har, the guy that wrote the code for the first truly succesful low end CNC machine tool did it on contract for a six week exercise in binary coding. That old 8080 control killed the processing speed of any microprocessor based control for many years. The faster ones had to rely upon DEC PDP8a/11, etc to get similar results for axis control.
    So many in the past have pissed away their talents in doing low return consumer oriented programs when a few innovations could have wiped out the laggard Japanese (that deserved to be run over) machine tool controls.
    BTW, the Japanese controls have not advanced in user software in the past thirty years. They are better at peripheral control such as axis and spindle drives, but have exceptionally backward user features.
    They are sitting ducks even in such simple programming features as multiple offsets for workpieces, and being able to re-start on some position in a repetitive geometry.

  3. For those like me that have small background on the history of microcomputing and no knowledge of what went on then, I have to express my appreciation for this site and all of the contributors to the Wiki tech histories for defunct computer/software companies.
    My first computer was an Altos MP/m w/5mb HDD/5.25 floppy. It was out of date when purchased, or otherwise I would never have seen it for 2000.00
    I am a computer twit, but I surely appreciate those that fill in the history of development. I learned a fair amount on howblind I was during the early personal computing era.
    You historians with personal insight do have readers outside the tech oriented.
    Thanks again.

  4. For those like me that have small background on the history of microcomputing and no knowledge of what went on then, I have to express my appreciation for this site and all of the contributors to the Wiki tech histories for defunct computer/software companies.
    My first computer was an Altos MP/m w/5mb HDD/5.25 floppy. It was out of date when purchased, or otherwise I would never have seen it for 2000.00
    I am a computer twit, but I surely appreciate those that fill in the history of development. I learned a fair amount on howblind I was during the early personal computing era.
    You historians with personal insight do have readers outside the tech oriented.
    Thanks again.

  5. Tom neglected to mention that 801 was – and most likely still is – haunted. By Luddite ghosts, most likely – the most common trick was to pull the computer power cords out of the wall sockets overnight.

  6. Tom neglected to mention that 801 was – and most likely still is – haunted. By Luddite ghosts, most likely – the most common trick was to pull the computer power cords out of the wall sockets overnight.

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