history is hard (was: Microsoft open sources GWBASIC)

Tom Gardner t.gardner at computer.org
Sun May 24 12:49:17 CDT 2020

Fred Cisin [mailto:cisin at xenosoft.com]  wrote on Saturday, May 23, 2020
11:28 PM


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.





It's probably OK for Fred to be saddened at the demise of a good story but
isn't it better to have the true story?


Neither Jim Adkisson nor Don Massaro of Shugart ever promulgated the urban
legend of Dr. Wang and the napkin in the bar - as near as I can tell it was
invented from whole cloth by Jim Porter who repeated it so many times that
it became legend.


The final media size was determined by Shugart Engineering led by Al Chou
from the size of the 8-track tape drive that the 5¼-inch FDD was to replace
in Wang and other systems.  As near as I can tell it was not the same size
as a “standard” cocktail napkin.


The idea for a smaller FDD with cocktail napkin sized medium did come
through Adkisson but it originated at his customers such as Lanier,
Phillips and Varisyst among others before it was taken to Wang.


History is hard - I researched this for the Computer History Museum and
prevented the legend from making it into their exhibits.





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