On 06 November 1990, IBM and Microsoft signed the contract which committed Microsoft to providing an operating system for the IBM PC.
Why did IBM turn to Microsoft? The three-year-old company had “sold more than a half-million copies of its Basic software program.” The computer giant had been unable to reach an agreement with Digital Research to license its CP/M operating system.
It was an operating system that the start up had not created. It was QDOS (Quick-and-Dirty Operating System), developed by Seattle Computer Products.
After the contract was signed, in December 1980 Microsoft would license the QDOS operating system to begin development of the IBM PC version. In July of 1981, just weeks before the IBM PC would ship, Microsoft purchased full rights from SCP for what was now called 86-DOS. IBM PC-DOS was the name of the operating system that would ship on the IBM PC, but it was Microsoft that wholly developed the operating system after acquiring it from SCP.
Microsoft developed the operating system under contract with IBM. Rather than asking for a “per-copy royalty … Microsoft wanted the ability to sell DOS to other companies.”
It was that brilliant negotiating that caused the power scale to shift.
Once IBM lost control of the platform they created, power shifted to the one major commonality between the IBM-compatible clones: Microsoft’s operating system. It was IBM’s name that pushed the IBM PC into prominence, but it was the combination of hardware cloning and Microsoft licensing the operating system that created the dominant platform of the PC era, crushing nearly all competing personal computer platforms in the process.
So true: “IBM Signs A Deal With The Devil.” ~Marcel Brown
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