Founder Rod Canyon tells how Compaq created a fully compatible machine for IBM PC
At that time there was not even a founding fatherCompaq (Compaq)The computer that "Compaq Portable"Is a machine that is fully compatible with the world's first IBM PC, a start-up Compaq is a historical computer that has made a start to the mainstream of the computer industry. Furthermore, it is a computer that sometimes is said to be "portable in the Compaq Portable", in a portable form as its name suggests. As a co-founder, he served as CEO of Compaq for a long time about the situation at that time when such Compaq Portable was made by reverse engineering without infringing the intellectual property rights of the giant IBMRod CanyonHe is speaking.
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In 1981, Mr. Canyon, who later decided to establish Compaq, served as an intermediate manager of Texas Instruments. Mr. Canyon was planning to make portable portable computers that could be carried independently, but he said that the investment was refused by Mr. Ben Rosen, venture capitalist. At that time, Mr. Canyon and his colleagues Jim Harris and Bill Mart talked at the restaurant, it seems that an important idea that triggered the birth of Compaq was born.
In response to Mr. Brian McLaugh's interview with Internet History Podcast, Mr. Canyon commented as follows.
"We were talking about portable computers on the morning of 8th January 1982. How can we differentiate the portable PC that was already taken up by the public by themselves to be valuable? In other words, it was a machine that runs its own software, as 300 new software was born, 300 unique machines were born.
In the morning when three people talked, a deluge of "Would it be possible if there was a computer that could move some software already?" Was born. This way you can capture existing software entirely. At that time, the machine that can run the most software is the "IBM PC(Model 5150) "It was"
Because IBM PC was very popular, most developers wrote programs programming on IBM PC. However, Mr. Canyon says he did not simply want to make counterfeits of the IBM PC.
"IBM never sandboxed everything and did not technically protect it, but we did not want to duplicate IBM's computers, just wanted to access a program written by someone else It is. "
Three people, including Mr. Canyon and others, quit Texas Instruments and established Compaq, with "the ability to have almost the same performance as an IBM PC and run the same software, but to make computers with overwhelmingly cheap prices" has been clarified . Mr. Canyon, who was funded by venture capital Kleiner Perkins et al., John Door, said he took out the young programmers and engineers with extreme caution so as not to buy the anger of Texas Instruments.
The biggest difficulty for Compaq to make IBM PC compatible machines,BIOSToreverse engineeringIt was to do. At that time, the IBM PC BIOS source code was published in the user manual. However, he said he was not thinking about rewriting anyone for fear of violating IBM's copyright. Actually, it seems that there were several companies that went bankrupted by copying IBM's BIOS. Compaq has overcome this IBM copyright barriers as follows.
"We knew there was a way to make software similar to IBM's BIOS (without infringing IBM's copyrights), I believed that action was legitimate, perhaps like this, We did not move on the assumption that we hired the best lawyers who came to intellectual property rights and carried out reverse engineering carefully according to their strict guidance. "
Mr. Canyon's "way" is "Clean room designIt is called a method called. This is based on the function and specification obtained by reverse engineering, looking at the original source code with the engineers who reverse-engineer the software and the engineer who redesigns (re-installs) the software completely isolated It is one that another technician has never implemented. It has the advantage that it is accepted as an independent work unless the completed code is exactly the same as the original code reverse-engineered and does not receive the exercise of the original copyright.
"The lawyer strictly told us," Technicians implementing the code are not allowed to glance at all, not to mention using BIOS code from the IBM PC. "One engineer reads the code I decided the function / specification.This work was like deciphering the hieroglyphs.When this technician completes the specification, I will send the specification from the window of the room to the technician implementing the code I handed him out of the room. "
In this way, Compaq achieved a task in a short period of only nine months, which was insignificant compared to the scale of IBM at the time under a strict clean room design. In November 1982, as the world's first "complete" IBM PC compatible machine "Compaq PortableWhen it was released, it got explosive popularity and said to a user "It is highly compatible with IBM PC compatible machines made by IBM".
Regarding high compatibility of Compaq Portable, Mr. Canyon talks as follows.
"I ran into the goal towards one goal of making a machine that could run all the software running on IBM PCs and it was shocking when I learned that the software did not work on other IBM PC compatible machines. But I could understand why other companies could not make compatibility, realizing full compatibility was a very painstaking job and it took a long time.Everyone took a market called IBM PC compatible machine Every manufacturer wanted to be the first compatible machine manufacturer, but we also had a place where we could get only one "first" title. It was the title of the first machine with full compatibility. "
Compaq Portable had a big advantage as a portable computer as its name suggests. Mr. Canyon, who was planning to become independent from Texas Instruments, refused investment by Mr. Rosen after appealing the portable computer concept, but this concept was formed by Compaq's first product, Compaq Portable.
The popularity momentum of Compaq Portable is tremendous, and 53,000 units were sold in the first year and recorded sales of 111 million dollars (26 billion yen at that rate). IBM is also a portable computer "IBM Portable Personal ComputerI followed it, but it did not reach Compaq Portable. Ultimately, Compaq Portable is going to record 10 times the sales volume of IBM Portable Personal Computer.
In the United States of a computer giant country, many dramas with the theme of computer development history are made. While avoiding the giant IBM litigation, the startup Compaq created an IBM PC compatible machine and the success stories that emerge as a protagonist of the era have also been dramatized in fiction as "HALT AND CATCH FIRE".
HALT AND CATCH FIRE | A Look at the Series Special | HD - YouTube