“There was a time when Paul Allen, not Bill Gates, was the boss at Microsoft,” Robert X. Cringely writes for PBS. “These roles changed over time, of course, and what clearly precipitated the change was Paul Allen’s health. He contracted Hodgkins Disease, a form of cancer, in 1982 when Allen was in charge of the development of MS-DOS 2.0, a complete rewrite of PC-DOS 1, which was itself mainly derived from Seattle Computer Products’ Quick and Dirty Operating System (QDOS) that Microsoft had acquired when Digital Research was unable to come to terms with IBM about using CP/M for the original PC. QDOS was simply not a very good product, and DOS 2.0 was intended to overcome the earlier products’ many problems. It would also eliminate that nascent rumor that QDOS was riddled with code ‘borrowed’ from CP/M.”
“So DOS 2.0 was the most important Microsoft product to date and vital to cementing the company’s relationship with its biggest customer, IBM. It was also by far the most complex product in Microsoft’s young history, which again is why Paul Allen was put in charge. As development continued, Allen’s health began to deteriorate, so much so that the IBM team was worried that Allen might not survive. ‘He looked like death,’ Sams told me. ‘But still they pushed him,'” Cringely writes. “In the Boys’ Club that was Microsoft in those days, maybe the concept of mortality was too abstract, maybe Allen’s poor health wasn’t as obvious to those around him every day as it was to the IBM team that visited from time to time. To his credit, Allen stayed long enough to finish the job, delivering DOS 2.0 then leaving the company forever, eventually to have a bone marrow transplant that cured him completely.”
“But during one of those last long nights of working to finish-up DOS 2.0, something happened. I have heard this story from two people, each of whom was a friend of Allen’s and in a position to know. Each told me the same story the same way. I am not staking my reputation on the accuracy of the story, but I am saying I have it from two good sources. Paul Allen certainly won’t confirm or deny it, so I’ll just throw it out for you to consider,” Cringely writes. “During one of those last long nights working to deliver DOS 2.0 in early 1983, I am told that Paul Allen heard Gates and Ballmer discussing his health and talking about how to get his Microsoft shares back if Allen were to die.”
“My reason for bringing up this topic at this time is because it will all shortly be back in the news as Microsoft goes to court later this year in what might well be its last-ever anti-trust trial. Remember those 19 states and the District of Columbia that settled over time for software vouchers and promises from Microsoft to no longer do evil? Well only Iowa remains, represented by a lady lawyer from Des Moines named Roxanne Conlin whom I have met. Roxanne is not in any way impressed with Microsoft vouchers, no matter how many there are. Looking for real money for the people of Iowa, Ms. Conlin is about to dredge-up all this old news and put a new spin on it,” Cringely writes. “Based purely on character (or lack of it), I confidently predict that Microsoft is going down. It should be interesting.”
Full article here.
[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Pogo” for the heads up.]
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Mac users should not buy Microsoft software (or hardware) – May 16, 2003