Greg
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September 1980
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This page is based on memory.


Tuesday, 16 September 1980 London
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Today was the first day of the “Euromicro 80” conference, which has left surprisingly little mark on the computer industry. I had come from Germany mainly to hear the hero of the microcomputer industry, Gary Kildall. And how about that, at lunch time they hadn't even thought fit to feed him—the other delegates were fed as part of the conference registration. I had a talk with the organizers, and rather reluctantly they let him eat with us. I spent all the lunch asking him silly questions, and in the end really hadn't learnt anything new.

Another US speaker was a no-show: somebody called Bill Gates, a name that I had genuinely not heard before, though of course I knew his company Microsoft. Instead he sent somebody else to talk about their new operating system, XENIX. The talk was interesting, but who could afford the hardware to run a version of Unix?

Of course, this was an interesting time. Many legends relate to an incident when Gary Kildall “went flying”, while Bill Gates stayed at home and negotiated with IBM on the one hand and Seattle Computer Products on the other. The result was that Microsoft bought the rights to SCP's 86-DOS and licensed them to IBM for use in their upcoming 5150 “personal computer”. I first found out about this in late 1980, maybe a month or two later, as I have noted. For a long time I interpreted the somewhat murky details of Kildall going flying while Bill Gates stayed at home to refer to this conference, and I wondered what would have happened if Gary had also stayed behind rather than anwsering my questions about why PIP was so slow? Unfortunately, the details that have since emerged suggest that this interpretation was incorrect. It reminds me of the old saying:

For every problem there is a solution that is simple, elegant... and wrong.


Friday, 19 September 1980 London → Reading → London
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Today I fulfilled a dream and bought a “new” oscilloscope (probably really 15 years old), a Tektronix 555 dual beam oscilloscope:


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It came in two pieces, the indicator unit (shown) and a thoroughly boring looking power supply, which I managed to leave behind in Reading, and had to return there the following day to pick it up.


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