history is hard (was: Microsoft open sources GWBASIC)

Fred Cisin cisin at xenosoft.com
Sun May 24 13:23:00 CDT 2020

> 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.
> <http://archive.computerhistory.org/resources/access/text/2013/05/102657925-
> 05-01-acc.pdf>

On Sun, 24 May 2020, Tom Gardner via cctalk wrote:
> 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?

"better", yes.
but still sadder

> 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.

I read it in one of the popular magaazines decades ago.

> 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.

"I believe in standards.  Everyone should have [a unique] one [of their 
own]." - George Morrow
I have seen napkins that are about 5.25".

I wanted to track down which bar, and get napkins from them.
And/or get napkins commercially printed (and give them a supply) with the 
bar personalization on one side, and an outline picture of a 5.25" disk 
jacket and the story on the other.  optional signatures of those 
involved, and provide to CHM to sell in the giftshop.

> 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.

I have to thank you for debunking a cherished legend.

Myths and legends can be nice, even if they have to be disproven.  Even 
nonexistent characters can be handy, such as Santa Claus and \newline

Grumpy Ol' Fred     		cisin at xenosoft.com

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