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"Team Ada: Ada Advocacy Issues (83 & 95)" <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 24 Jul 2000 18:10:11 -0400
Michael Feldman <[log in to unmask]>
Michael Feldman <[log in to unmask]>
<[log in to unmask]> from "W. Wesley Groleau x4923" at Jul 24, 2000 08:52:36 AM
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[said Wes]
> > by IBM (for decades), and my memory is that most of us were very clear that
> > an "IBM standard" was outside the range of definition of standards  --
> Everyone copied the Selectric keyboard layout, making it "standard" --
> then IBM changed it for the PC.  I remember someone sarcastically saying,
> "We're IBM; we can do anything!"

I'm one of the graybeards that remembers the IBM Consent Decree of
1964. In fact, I worked for IBM in the summer of 1965 and heard
more about that than I ever wanted to learn.

At the time, the issue was that IBM leased (didn't sell) computers
(these were multimegabuck mainframes, of course). For a single
monthly price, EVERYTHING was included: hardware, peripheral devices,
OS, application programs, service, training, etc. etc.

Needless to say, because IBM did not price this stuff separately,
it was impossible for companies to compete. Moreover, IBM didn't
publish clear hardware interfaces, so (say) a printer company
couldn't build a printer for an IBM computer. At the time, the
buzzword was "plug-to-plug compatible", and it was in the news
because IBM simply didn't allow it.

Enter DoJ, which was prodded by would-be competitors. I wasn't
in the industry before the suit, so I didn't follow it at the time.
But the upshot was a consent decree called the "unbundling decision"
under which IBM would price _everything_ separately (leading to a
huge catalog, which I did see) and also publish its interfaces.

That consent decree spawned an entire industry of software (OS
and apps) and peripheral-device competition. And IBM is still
in business, still making mainframes. Obviously the settlement
didn't wreck the company, did it?

Now flash forward about 35 years. Does that IBM situation sound
familiar? Here we are talking about M$'s "secret APIs", and the
DoJ's lawsuit that was, inter alia, about bundling Explorer
into Windows.

"Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose."
("The more things change, the more they stay the same.")
> Now Microsoft does it.  My company upgraded Microsoft Office and now I
> can't figure out how to do things that were easy to do not long ago.

One more slogan from the old days: "Nobody ever got fired for going
with IBM." IBM was the safe, risk-averse decision for managers,
especially before unbundling. (Even after unbundling, everyone was
still going for the same 360-family CPUs.) They didn't really have
much choice, from that perspective. That sounds a lot
like Rick Conn's argument that because M$ is so popular, it must be
the best.
> I must reluctantly admit that Microsoft crashes, although still way too
> common, have decreased noticeably in their frequency.

And I reluctantly admit that Microsoft, having pushed every other
Mac office suite off the market, really did get it right with
Office 98 for Mac. At least in the sense that it doesn't crash
or have a lot of obvious bugs. It does have an obscure UI, though,
because it's a port of a Windows UI.
> Wes Groleau
Mike Feldman