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Caradoc
48279.  Sun Jan 29, 2006 5:55 pm Reply with quote

I don't think Gates every worked for Atari, he seems to have started microshaft whilst at Harvard & then dropped out to work for himself full time. Microsoft had produced software for the Altair computer, which may be why the memory is playing tricks.

BBC
MS

Neither of which mention that MS bought MS/DOS for $50K when they already had a contract to supply it to IBM for $5m (I think), MS/DOS or QDOS (quick & dirty operating system) was reverse engineered from CPM (anyone remember the amstrad machines?)

 
Gray
48322.  Mon Jan 30, 2006 5:54 am Reply with quote

I had an Amstrad 8256 (black and green screen!) but it had a WYSIWYG word processor (although you often didn't G W Y wanted). I did some CPM programming to make it draw fancy graphics. Not a nice programming environment, but a brilliant machine.

 
dr.bob
48361.  Mon Jan 30, 2006 10:09 am Reply with quote

Celebaelin wrote:
I'm getting just at little narked at this dr. bob. Unless you've read Hard Drive overnight you don't know what is written in it.


You're absolutely right, that's why I'm relying on your reports of it. However, you haven't produced any reference from this work to back up your claim.

You did produce some quotes from unrelated websites, and I got a little confused as originally I thought they were from the book. I was even more confused since the quotes you produced had nothing whatever to do with your claim.

Celebaelin wrote:
I'm not a computer professional and I read the book some 11 years ago but what I posted on is my recollection of the early part of its content. If you check it out and find that I'm wrong then that'll be fine but until then I think that as the expert in these matters the onus is on you to be more forthcoming with your explanations rather than simply contradicting me.


I'm not simply contradicting you. I am saying that in all my years of working with and being interested in computers, I've never heard of the story that Bill Gates either worked for Atari or wrote a BIOS for anything. I don't really know what more there is to explain.

I claimed that there is a rumour that the only piece of software Bill Gates is directly responsible for (Microsoft's Basic compiler) was in fact pinched from DEC (digital equiment corporation). If I google for "Bill Gates" and "digital equipment corporation", I get a lot of hits (e.g. [url]encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761565404/Gates_William_Henry_III.html[/url]) that mention he learned Basic on a DEC PDP-10, though no actual mention of the rumour (perhaps this rumour isn't as widespread as I thought).

Interestingly enough, the first hit for my google search was the aformentioned "Hard Drive" book which lists "digital equipment corporation" as one of the "Capitalized Phrases" in the book.

Contrast this with a google search for "Bill Gates" and "atari", or "Bill Gates" and "bios", neither of which turn up anything concerning your claim. I'll admit that google isn't the be all and end all of all human knowledge, but it certainly raises doubts.

Celebaelin wrote:
If I am in error then I would have thought with all the knowledge and experience at your disposal that you could have made the intuitive leap to being constructive in your criticism somewhat earlier.


I'm not sure what you want from me. You made a claim, I said I'd never heard of this before and asked you for a reference. If you don't produce a reference, then you're not going to convince me of the veracity of your claim. If this doesn't bother you, then that's fine and we can both move on wth our lives. I thought a big part of this site was backing up interesting facts with verifiable proof. Of course, you don't have to do that all the time, but don't expect people to believe you if you don't.

As far as I can see, there's nothing I can do here to prove you wrong. It's pretty much impossible to prove a negative. I can't think of a way to prove that Bill Gates didn't work for Atari. Therefore it must be up to you to prove that you're right.

Though, as I've said, if you choose not to provide proof, then that's your personal choice and I'm not going to try and force you. I will simply remain sceptical about the fact that Bill Gates wrote a BIOS for Atari. I doubt that will cause any great ructions in the universe at large.

 
Celebaelin
48377.  Mon Jan 30, 2006 11:15 am Reply with quote

I can't quote the page reference for you because I borrowed the book. Actually I was leant the book by a lecturer in Computational Neuroscience who thrust it into my hand and said 'you ought to read this' or words to that effect. I have since returned it too him, I REALLY dislike lending books to people and not getting them back and I try not to do this to other people where possible.

If I could physically hand the book to you and say the same thing to you I would. From what you tell me compared with what I remember of the book it is almost directly contradicted by a lot of web sources. Hard Drive was written as Bill Gates' opportunity to give voice to his own version and is the result of conversations with him by the author.

Neither of us can prove we're right, in fact I've never said I am right, all I said was that I read that stuff in that book. A book which has, as yet, not been discredited as far as I'm aware. Wallace spoke to Ed Roberts and he confirmed Gates' story, I wonder to what extent any of the anti-Gates material can be substantiated. On the basis of the one account that is paramount in this regard in that it can be investigated in a specific sense I suggest that my friend was handing me a "Gates is rubbish" get out of jail free card. No Gates fan he btw although as of a dozen years ago or so he is less dismissive of him.

 
dr.bob
48387.  Mon Jan 30, 2006 12:08 pm Reply with quote

Celebaelin wrote:
Hard Drive was written as Bill Gates' opportunity to give voice to his own version and is the result of conversations with him by the author.


Ahh, possibly a slightly one-sided account, then :)

Celebaelin wrote:
Neither of us can prove we're right


No, but I might be able to prove that you are a little confused.

Just to remind everyone, you said way back in post 47758:

Celebaelin wrote:
When working for Ed Roberts at Atari didn't he and Paul Allen, after quitting Harvard, write the first BIOS for the first (self-assembly) home computer?


I've now done a little more digging on google, specifically for the name "Ed Roberts". It turns out that he was indeed involved in making the first (self-assembly) home computer. However, he did not work for Atari. Ed Roberts' company was called MITS (Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems) and it produced a computer called the Altair 8800.

Bill Gates did indeed produce some software for this computer. It was the BASIC compiler which I already mentioned was the only piece of software that Bill Gates (allegedly) wrote. It was not a BIOS.

All of this is mentioned in the Encarta URL I posted previously.

So, while attending Harvard, Bill Gates and Paul Allen developed a BASIC compiler for the Altair 8800 personal computer. Note that they never actually worked for Ed Roberts. They then formed Microsoft to develop versions of BASIC for other computer companies.

Are you possibly confusing the name "Altair" with "Atari" and "BASIC" with "BIOS"? That would certainly explain everything.

Celebaelin wrote:
I wonder to what extent any of the anti-Gates material can be substantiated.


Well, the vicious rumour that he ripped off the BASIC compiler will never be proven and may well be baseless sour grapes. However, the anti-competitive business practises that Mr Gates and his company have subsequently dabbled in can be substantiated by the number of times the company has been dragged through US and EU courts. The fact that the company hasn't been crippled by punative damages already is almost certainly down to the amount of money Microsoft contributes to the Republican party.

 
Quaintly Ignorant
48396.  Mon Jan 30, 2006 12:48 pm Reply with quote

Perhaps the attitude of Micro$haft can be traced back to the 1970's. A letter written by Bill Gates:

Quote:
| February 3, 1976
|
| An Open Letter to Hobbyists
|
| To me, the most critical thing in the hobby market right now is the
| lack of good software courses, books and software itself. Without good
| software and an owner who understands programming, a hobby computer is
| wasted. Will quality software be written for the hobby market?
|
| Almost a year ago, Paul Allen and myself, expecting the hobby market to
| expand, hired Monte Davidoff and developed Altair BASIC. Though the
| initial work took only two months, the three of us have spent most of
| the last year documenting, improving and adding features to BASIC. Now
| we have 4K, 8K, EXTENDED, ROM and DISK BASIC. The value of the computer
| time we have used exceeds $40,000.
|
| The feedback we have gotten from the hundreds of people who say they
| are using BASIC has all been positive. Two surprising things are
| apparent, however. 1) Most of these "users" never bought BASIC (less
| than 10% of all Altair owners have bought BASIC), and 2) The amount of
| royalties we have received from sales to hobbyists makes the time spent
| of Altair BASIC worth less than $2 an hour.
|
| Why is this? As the majority of hobbyists must be aware, most of you
| steal your software. Hardware must be paid for, but software is
| something to share. Who cares if the people who worked on it get paid?
|
| Is this fair? One thing you don't do by steeling software is get back
| at MITS for some problem you may have had. MITS doesn't make money
| selling software. The royalty paid to us, the manual, the tape and the
| overhead make it a break-even operation. One thing you do is prevent
| good software from being written. Who can afford to do professional
| work for nothing? What hobbyist can put 3-man years into programming,
| finding all bugs, documenting his product and distribute for free? The
| fact is, no one besides us has invested a lot of money in hobby
| software. We have written 6800 BASIC, and are writing 8080 APL and 6800
| APL, but there is very little incentive to make this software available
| to hobbyists. Most directly, the thing you do is theft.
|
| What about the guy who re-sell Altair BASIC, aren't they making money
| on hobby software? Yes, but those who have been reported to us may lose
| in the end. They are the ones who give hobbyists a bad name, and should
| be kicked out of any club meeting they show up at.
|
| I would appreciate letters from any one who wants to pay up, or has a
| suggestion or comment. Just write me at 1180 Alvarado SE, #114,
| Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87108. Nothing would please me more than being
| able to hire ten programmers and deluge the hobby market with good
| software.
|
| Bill Gates
| General Partner, Micro-soft

That BASIC had an error in the floating point arithmetic, too. It formed the foundation of AmigaBASIC, the Amiga being a computer I had a love affair with refusing to switch to a windows box for a long time. AmigaBASIC was very QBASIC like but was abandoned when the 68020 processor came out and replaced with the fabulous AREXX because Micro$haft refused to follow the programming guidelines (something they are still want to do), the top byte of pointers was required.

As far as I know, the BASIC for atari may well have been based on the Micro$haft version but it was dropped for PowerBASIC due to it's inherent errors. The last piece of software written by Gate$ was the ROM for the TRS-80 Model 100 laptop computer, also flawed.

What's that? Do I like Bill Gate$? No.... No I don't.

 
Celebaelin
48398.  Mon Jan 30, 2006 12:54 pm Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:
Celebaelin wrote:
Hard Drive was written as Bill Gates' opportunity to give voice to his own version and is the result of conversations with him by the author.


Ahh, possibly a slightly one-sided account, then :)


Almost certainly sympathetic, but not without verification. It is in the nature of these things that an authored work will be more careful, friendly even, than an anonymous one for fear of legal reprisals.

dr.bob wrote:
Celebaelin wrote:
Neither of us can prove we're right


No, but I might be able to prove that you are a little confused.


I never denied that, in fact Iíve been at pains to point out that Iím trusting to memory.

dr.bob wrote:
So, while attending Harvard, Bill Gates and Paul Allen developed a BASIC compiler for the Altair 8800 personal computer. Note that they never actually worked for Ed Roberts. They then formed Microsoft to develop versions of BASIC for other computer companies.

Are you possibly confusing the name "Altair" with "Atari"

Quite possibly, but thatís not my recollection.

dr.bob wrote:
and "BASIC" with "BIOS"? That would certainly explain everything

I said earlier in a response to Tas that BIOS was not mentioned as it wasnít (and Iím extrapolating here) called that at that stage. I can only suggest yet again that you read the book if you want a definitive answer with regard to what is stated.


dr.bob wrote:
Celebaelin wrote:
I wonder to what extent any of the anti-Gates material can be substantiated.


Well, the vicious rumour that he ripped off the BASIC compiler will never be proven and may well be baseless sour grapes.

Quite.

dr.bob wrote:
However, the anti-competitive business practises that Mr Gates and his company have subsequently dabbled in can be substantiated by the number of times the company has been dragged through US and EU courts. The fact that the company hasn't been crippled by punative damages already is almost certainly down to the amount of money Microsoft contributes to the Republican party.

Which would not affect EU rulings. $610M looks like a slapped wrist to me despite Microsoftís complaints. Iím inclined to think that Gates has done pretty much what anyone else would have done, but better. I donít say that this is a good thing or that the law has not upheld complaints but I am inclined to say there was an imperative to establish that Microsoft were not operating on a par with the US government or the EU and that their rulings could and would restrict Microsoftís operations.

 
dr.bob
48460.  Tue Jan 31, 2006 4:33 am Reply with quote

Quaintly Ignorant wrote:
A letter written by Bill Gates:

Quote:
| One thing you don't do by steeling software is get back
| at MITS for some problem you may have had. One thing you do is prevent
| good software from being written.


Ha! Tell that to Richard Stallman or Linus Torvalds! :)

 
dr.bob
48463.  Tue Jan 31, 2006 4:56 am Reply with quote

Celebaelin wrote:
I never denied that, in fact Iíve been at pains to point out that Iím trusting to memory.


It seems to me that your memory is rather patchy on this subject. There's no law against that, but it does mean that I'm going to be very sceptical about things you say about this unless you can produce some more concrete evidence to back it up. This may or may not bother you. It certainly doesn't bother me.

Celebaelin wrote:
I said earlier in a response to Tas that BIOS was not mentioned as it wasnít (and Iím extrapolating here) called that at that stage.


Yes, in message 47977 in which you claimed that Bill Gates wrote "the BIOS for the Atari 3000".

Leaving aside the fact that I've already mentioned I can find no evidence that Bill Gates ever worked for Atari, the only mention of something called the "Atari 3000" I can find on google is this beast:

http://www.atarimuseum.com/videogames/consoles/2600/a3000.html

This was a conversion of an Atari video games console into a personal computer by "3 former Commodore engineers" in 1982.

Tas has already mentioned that the term BIOS first related to the CP/M operating system which was launched as a commercial enterprise in 1976, some 6 years previously. Meanwhile Microsoft had already closed a pivotal deal with IBM to provide the operating system for their new PC in 1980, 2 years before the Atari 3000. I find it very unlikely that Mr Gates would then take time off to go and write a BIOS for some hobbyists.

In your reply to Tas, you said:

Quote:
I must admit to only reading the first part of your post Tas, you started to turn into burble burble after the second paragraph


I don't want to come across as agressive or bitchy here, but I would suggest that, if you want people to believe the things you say, you should be prepared to back them up with something a little more concrete than half-remembered books you read over a decade ago. Also I would suggest that you do the other people on this forum the courtesy of at least reading the things that they write on the subject.

Of course, you're quite free to ignore me as some hysterical loon.

Celebaelin wrote:
I can only suggest yet again that you read the book if you want a definitive answer with regard to what is stated.


If I had the slightest hope that it would contain something I didn't already know, I would. However, nothing you have said has been at all verifiable and much of it seems simply mistaken. As such, I have plenty of other books I'd rather be reading right now.

 
Celebaelin
48470.  Tue Jan 31, 2006 5:17 am Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:
Celebaelin wrote:
I must admit to only reading the first part of your post Tas, you started to turn into burble burble after the second paragraph


I don't want to come across as agressive or bitchy here, but I would suggest that, if you want people to believe the things you say, you should be prepared to back them up with something a little more concrete than half-remembered books you read over a decade ago. Also I would suggest that you do the other people on this forum the courtesy of at least reading the things that they write on the subject.

But for this comment I would be sufficiently content to leave it at that rather than see this degenerate further but I must, as absolutely my last comment in this thread, object to your use of the perfectly friendly and well humoured exchange between myself and Tas as a weapon in this. Tas, as can be seen from his reply, had a faultlessly good-natured attitude to my admission and your adoption of the position of self-appointed arbiter of what constitutes courtesy is, to my mind, somewhat inappropriate.

 
Gray
48475.  Tue Jan 31, 2006 5:32 am Reply with quote

Guys, come on, this is just an argument about arguing now, which isn't very quite interesting at all. Nobody knows what Bill did or didn't do at the start except for Bill, and he's hardly going to be any more trustworthy on the subject than his detractors.

Everyone involved had - and still has - their own interests to look after in the computing world, so they'll tell it from their angle to defend their own egos. We don't want to end up doing the same thing here. Egos are banned.

 
dr.bob
48489.  Tue Jan 31, 2006 5:56 am Reply with quote

OK, I think this debate has come to an end now. Personally I was simply trying to establish the facts of the case. Not simply rumours about what Bill did or didn't do at the start, but established facts about how he began his career. I'm sorry if it came across as an argument about arguing, but I always try to deal with the whole of someone's argument rather than appear to be picking some bits to form a straw man which I can knock down, whilst ignoring other bits which I can't deal with. Mostly 'cos it really annoys me when people do that to me.

I apologise unreservedly to Celebaelin for using his exchange with Tas to make a point. I really didn't want to come across as a self-appointed arbiter of anything. As I said, I was just seeking the truth which is, after all, what this site is all about, surely?

 
Tas
48520.  Tue Jan 31, 2006 9:02 am Reply with quote

Has taken no offence by any of this.

:-)

*Finds hard to take offence at the written word on a forum. Now, if it had been face-to-face...*

:-)

Tas

 
Quaintly Ignorant
48524.  Tue Jan 31, 2006 9:38 am Reply with quote

As long as we all agree that Billy-boy is the spawn of satan, all is right in the world.

 
Tas
48526.  Tue Jan 31, 2006 9:59 am Reply with quote

Absolutely!

:-)

Tas

 

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