What If Digital Research Had Won IBM’s Love?

The software company was headquartered in P.G. and sold a computer operating system that many say was better than the upstart Microsoft’s product.

Digital Research Sign

Long before “Think Different” became a marketing slogan, Kildall’s Digital Research was thinking differently, writes Terry Horton, who remembers the early days and now lives in Dubai. He speculates that the IBM deal fell through in part because of an East Coast/West Coast culture clash.

“First, their office was not an office,” Horton writes of Digital.”It was an old house on the beach in Pacific Grove with a view to the northwest that produced some wonderful sunsets. Second, the office staff were not wearing real suits. In fact, a majority of the secretaries wore shorts and bikini style tops. In other words, it was horrifying to a staid easterner in a three-piece suit planning to put the ultimate success or failure of their PC project in the hands of someone like this.”

Jim Tirjan of Campbell found himself contemplating “what if.” What if IBM had gone with Digital instead of Microsoft?

“Would Pacific Grove today be what Redmond became?” he writes. “OK, maybe people in Monterey like it just the way it is, but the implications for Silicon Valley would be staggering.”

What If Digital Research Had Won IBMs Love?