To celebrate our 100th episode, we’re taking a special look at one of the foundational legends of the technology industry. It’s about the man who invented the modern disc operating system (the OS) and the concept of the software platform. That man was Gary Kildall. And the question we examine in this episode is, why is Bill Gates the richest man in the world, and not Gary Kildall?
In this episode we use audio from the following documentaries:
Special thanks to Justin Schwinghamer for the original score and the voice acting.
I think one must be careful not to take Gary Kildall’s take on the event too uncritically. I understand the incentive for IBM to not tell the truth after the threat of a lawsuit, you can look at Nolan Bushnell’s stories of Spacewar! to see a similar situation. However, the consistent refusal of ever having met Kildall while down there, let alone him supposedly having talked with them -twice- with no one else ever corroborating this fact. It seems to me that his obsession in debunking the flying myth caused him to create tales of his own.
I think the big takeaway for me from this episode was more the importance of Kildall’s wife in all this. Although I am willing to concede that perhaps the meeting with Kildall happened before they left, I must wonder if they were so intent on figureheading that they refused to do business directly with her. If she didn’t have the apprehension that she claims, why was the deal not sealed before Kildall even got there?
I’m glad Kildall wasn’t so disillusioned to have his story end there, of course. His work with the Computer Chronicles and GEM OS were very important contributions to the field.
I will say a bit about the music in the episode, it was a tad overbearing at times. I could hear you fine, but it seemed somewhat overdramatic, though I liked it when it was smoothing out transitions.
Best episode yet! Thank you.
I second Joe Hawes! Best episode yet. I know these events are ancient history for people today but I lived through every step of it!
I always felt a little sad for Gary. I often thought his story would end up forgotten and disappear from the light of day.
I thought your podcast was interesting and insightful. I totally agree with your thoughts in the last 5 minutes of the podcast (I’ve had 20 years to think about it).
Be at peace wherever you are Gary. The music always changes but the dance goes on.
This didn’t change my view of Gary nor did it change my view of Gates, but the details were interesting. Gary’s still interesting in innovation and invention, Bill is only interested in himself. I think Gary’s ghosts of being at the place where he would be essentially ridiculed by the industry for not being a ruthless backstabbing jerk off is probably what troubled him most more than Bill dicking him over repeatedly and without remorse for the sake of his own wealth chasing. I think if nothing else, it’s just another illustration of the fact that we don’t live in a meritocracy; we reward unethical business practices, not innovation. Bill should be, at best, a couple million solid and a footnote in the history books. That’s not to say Gary would be elevated by default because of this either.
Either way, fun dramatic retelling of one guy getting his shoelaces tied together by his competitor and claiming victory. Classic American Dream told in all it’s ugly glory.