history is hard (was: Microsoft open sources GWBASIC)

Fred Cisin cisin at xenosoft.com
Sun May 24 01:28:10 CDT 2020

Yes, there will always be discrepancies.
I have to admit that many/most?/all? of my memories may be inaccurate or 

Some don't matter; some can be enough to ruin a good anecdote; some create 
a different story.

I'm saddened that Jim Adkisson and Don Massaro of Shugart have changed 
their story and now deny that the size of the 5.25" disk was based on Dr. 
Wang pointing to a bar napkin.  The "Bar Napkin Disk" was a GREAT 
anecdote; now ruined.

Whether Jobs saw the Apple1 after it was finished V had worked on it seems 
pretty big, but might not necessarily really be, since they HAD worked 
together on other projects around the same time.

Whether Gary missed the meeting, or was late for it will matter to some 
people.  To Gary, it might not have mattered much, but to the IBM people, 
EITHER is inexcusably disrespectful.  Gary's wife was quite capable of 
handling everything that needed to be done (although the IBM suits likely 
didn't see it that way - women in authority was contrary to their culture 
at the time). A comment by Gary of let them wait in the living room like 
any other customer seems in character with Gary's personality, but would 
enrage certain IBM types.

There was certainly significant culture clash.  Whether it was solely 
Gary's casual and informal attitude to business relationships, or whether 
it was the IBM people SHOCKED by the casual and informal business behavior 
and attire and unable to consider doing business with such a "hippy" 
doesn't surprise me.
I had dealings with similar culture clashes around that time.  Maybe I'm 
just still pissed off about how my uncle, who was an IBM suit, used to be 
extremely obnoxiously unpleasant about my having a beard. Was I the ONLY 
programmer without a crew-cut and not wearing a suit and tie at all times?

To me, the culture clash aspect makes it one of the greatest stories of 
the time.
Was Gary not taking the meeting seriously enough to be there on time, and 
as a consequence, ending up being $80B behind Bill Gates, the stupidest 
mistake anybody has ever made?
Or the bravest thing that anybody has ever done to stand up to them and 
put refusal to be subservient ahead of the money by deciding that the men 
from IBM did not deserve different treatment than other customers?

It might be excusable if the film makers chose to downplay that, or even 
not mention it (which they didn't), but to replace it with a grossly 
untrue "historical lesson" reversing and incompatible with the truth is 
not excusable, and incompatible with the spirit of the story.

Either way, changing it from IBM not wanting to deal with DR into Bill 
Gates cold calling IBM to tell them "what an operating system is" is 
totally invalidating, marginalizing, and misrepresenting a significant 
aspect of the microcomputer culture, and the people who made it.  (AND is 
ridiculously insulting to the IBM culture to state that they didn't know 
what an operating system is!)

The gratuitous fourth wall "Study this, because this is the way that it 
really happened" finally took it COMPLETELY out of the realm of 
"differing memories", "artistic license", and "improving the narrative" 
(all of which have a place) into gross misrepresentation.

Grumpy Ol' Fred     		cisin at xenosoft.com

On Sun, 24 May 2020, Jecel Assumpcao Jr via cctalk wrote:

> Fred Cisin advised on: Sat, 23 May 2020 20:29:28 -0700 (PDT)
>> But, read carefully the corrections that others made!
> Some things are easy to check, like the fact that the Z80 came out in
> 1976 when Woz was already finishing the Apple II so he couldn't have
> considered using it for the Apple I. Note that this correction doesn't
> really add anything to your nice history and I am only using it to
> illustrate the general topic.
> People's memories are complicated. I used to tell people a story from
> 1983 about something I did. But around 2010 I found a text I had written
> in 1989 and it had a very different version of what happened. While my
> current memory is the same as in 2010 I have to trust that my 1989
> self's memory was more correct. That is a good rule to follow, though
> sometimes I learn things that change how I remembered something so that
> the new memories are the more accurate ones.
> A good example is the Gary Kildall and the IBM guys story that you
> mentioned. Gary claimed that though the meeting was delayed by the NDA
> thing, it eventually started without him since his wife took care of
> 100% of the business side of DR. Then he arrived and was able to discuss
> the technical side. The IBM people remember the meeting not happening at
> all and not talking to Gary. How is this possible? Was one of them
> lying?
> I recently saw a very old interview with Steve Jobs. The reporter asked
> what had been his reaction when he first saw the Apple I. Steve claimed
> the question didn't make sense because he and Woz had come up with the
> computer together. He was lying, but more to himself than to the
> reporter - in his mind the Apple I was just an evolution of the Blue Box
> and he had done that together with Woz (he implied this in his answer).
> The reporter was probably aware that when Steve came back from Oregon
> and saw the working Apple I a bunch of people had seen it before him at
> previous meetings of the Homebrew Computer Club. But if you make a movie
> based on Steve's memories you get stuff like him dragging a reluctant
> Woz (who drops the machine due to dragging his feet) to a Club meeting
> so people can see it for the first time and buy it.
> All this supposes that people want to get it right. If they are creating
> entertainment "inspired by true facts" then the rules are totally
> different. "Pirates" reframed stories of Woz and Bill Fernandez as being
> with Woz and Jobs instead to make it less confusing to the public, for
> example. "Micro Men" makes the Proton prototype work the second before
> the BBC people walked in the door, and not a few hours before like in
> real life that wouldn't be as dramatic.
> As long as the spirit of the story remains, I can put up with stuff like
> this. Unlike in "The Imitation Game" where a key element of the story is
> that nobody involved ever told what they had done even to their spouses
> until the UK government itself unclassified it. So to have the "book
> ends" of the movie be Alan Turing casually narrating the whole story to
> a random policeman is absurdly against the spirit of the story. The
> fourth wall thing for the IBM meeting in "Pirates" is another movie
> ruining scene for me.
> -- Jecel

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