If Dead Rock Stars Get Plaques So Should Dead Computer Pioneers

About time, eh? Refer to the 2009 article What If Digital Research Had Won IBM’s Love? and another from 2007: Tech Tour Of Pacific Grove.

Digital Research 801Lighthouse

Digital Research Plaque

Gary Kildall, the pioneer digital visionary whose development of the microcomputer operating system in 1974 led to the personal computer, was honored Friday in Pacific Grove, the town where he had lived and worked.

Kildall, who died in 1994, was called “Father of the interconnected universe” at the commemorative event, held at Pacific Grove City Hall

Digital Research CP/M

Good credit where credit is due, but one is left hanging to know what happend to Digital Research. Trip over to The Six Serendipities of Microsoft and read about how close DR came to being the DOS that shipped with every new IBM PC and becoming big as or bigger than Microsoft.

The IBM design team knew immediately which operating system it wanted …They wanted CP/M, a product of .. Digital Research, of Pacific Grove, California. But when IBM first approached Digital Research, the company’s founder Gary Kildall was out of the office for the day. In his absence, Kildall’s wife and business associates were reluctant to sign the stringent IBM nondisclosure agreement…

If Dead Rock Stars Get Plaques So Should Dead Computer Pioneers

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?

Tech Tour Of Pacific Grove

Digital Research House

Hardly anyone in P.G. knows that CPM creator Digital Research was headquartered there, let alone the scene of a famous deal in the making . . that fell through and helped make Microsoft what it is today.

Digital Research Sign

Walking tour of Pacific Grove — where CPM was invented

It’s why I try to interview as many “grey beards” as possible, so we can get these stories down before they disappear forever.

Tech Tour Of Pacific Grove