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The Evolution Of The PC And Microsoft Essay, Research Paper

The Evolution of the PC and Microsoft

Kasey Anderson

2/21/97

Computer Tech.

ESSAY

Xerox, Apple, IBM, and Compaq all played major roles in the development

of the Personal Computer, or ?PC,? and the success of Microsoft. Though it may

seem so, the computer industry did not just pop-up overnight. It took many

years of dedication, hard-work, and most importantly, thievery to turn the

personal computer from a machine the size of a Buick, used only by zit-faced ?

nerds,? to the very machine I am typing this report on.

Xerox started everything off by creating the first personal computer,

the ALTO, in 1973. However, Xerox did not release the computer because they did

not think that was the direction the industry was going. This was the first of

many mistakes Xerox would make in the next two decades. So, in 1975, Ed Roberts

built the Altair 80800, which is largely regarded as the first PC. However, the

Altair really served no real purpose. This left computer-lovers still yearning

for the ?perfect? PC…actually, it didn?t have to be perfect, most ?nerds? just

wanted their computer to do SOMETHING.

The burning need for a PC was met in 1977, when Apple, a company formed

by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, released it?s Apple II. Now the nerds were

satisfied, but that wasn?t enough. In order to catapult the PC in to a big-time

product, Apple needed to make it marketable to the average Joe. This was made

possible by Visical, the home spread sheet. The Apple II was now a true-blue

product.

In order to compete with Apple?s success, IBM needed something to set

its product apart from the others. So they developed a process called ?open

architecture.? Open architecture meant buying all the components separately,

piecing them together, and then slapping the IBM name on it. It was quite

effective. Now all IBM needed was software. Enter Bill Gates.

Gates, along with buddy Paul Allen, had started a software company

called Microsoft. Gates was one of two major contenders for IBM. The other was

a man named Gary Kildall. IBM came to Kildall first, but he turned them away

(He has yet to stop kicking himself) and so they turned to Big Bad Bill Gates

and Microsoft.

Microsoft would continue supplying IBM with software until IBM insisted

Microsoft develop Q/DOS, which was compatible only with IBM equipment.

Microsoft was also engineering Windows, their own separate software, but IBM

wanted Q/DOS.

By this time, PC clones were popping up all over. The most effective

clone was the Compaq. Compaq introduced the first BIOS (Basic Input-Output

System) chip. The spearheaded a clone market that not only used DOS, but later

Windows as well, beginning the incredible success of Microsoft.

With all of these clones, Apple was in dire need of something new and

spectacular. So when Steve Jobs got invited to Xerox to check out some new

systems (big mistake), he began drooling profusely. There he saw the GUI

(graphical user interface), and immediately fell in love. SO, naturally, Xerox

invited him back a second time (BBBBIIIIGGGG mistake) and he was allowed to

bring his team of engineers. Apple did the obvious and stole the GUI from Xerox.

After his own computer, the LISA, flopped, Jobs latched on to the project of

one of his engineers. In 1984, the Apple Macintosh was born. Jobs, not wanting

to burden his employees with accolades, accepted all of the credit.

Even with the coveted GUI, Apple still needed a good application. And

who do you call when you need software? Big Bad Bill Gates. Microsoft designed

?desktop publishing? for Apple. However, at the same time, Gates was peeking

over Jobs?s shoulder to get some ?hints? to help along with the Windows

production.

About the same time, IBM had Microsoft design OS/2 for them so they

could close the market for clones by closing their architecture. This was the

last straw for Microsoft. They designed OS/2 and then split with IBM to

concentrate fully on Windows. The first few versions of Windows were only

mediocre, but Windows 3.0 was the answer to what everyone wanted. However, it

did not have it?s own operating system, something that Windows ?95 does. 3.0

sold 30 million copies in its first year, propelling Microsoft to success.

So, neither the PC industry nor Microsoft was built overnight. Each

owes a lot to several different people and companies. Isn?t it amazing that so

much has developed in just twenty-three years? Here?s something even more

amazing. Remember the ALTO? Guess what it had… a GUI, a mouse, a networking

system, everything. So maybe we haven?t come all that far.

351


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