The Secret Origins of Windows 1.0

Fri, Mar 12, 2010

Apple History, News

Technologizer has a fasctinating look at the development of Windows 1.0 with Tandy Trower, the man who served as the Windows 1.0 product manager.

Regarding the inclusion, and inspiration, for the mini-apps that fast became a standard on Windows PCs:

When the Macintosh was announced, I noted that Apple bundled a small set of applications, which included a small word processor called MacWrite and a drawing application called MacPaint. In addition, Lotus and Borland had recently released DOS products called Metro and SideKick that consisted of small suite of character-based applications that could be popped up with a keyboard combination while running other applications. Those packages included a simple text editor, a calculator, a calendar, and business card-like database.

So I went to Gates and Ballmer with the recommendation that we bundle a similar set of applets with Windows which would include refining the ones already in development, as well as a few more to match functions comparable to these other products. I also advocated that we include an experimental mini-word processor based on Microsoft Word which I named Windows Write. This latter got me in some hot water from the Application group, but Gates and Ballmer supported my recommendation.

And Trower also has some interesting insight into the Apple/Microsoft lawsuit from the late 80’s:

In 1988, Apple decided to sue Microsoft over Windows 2.0’s “look and feel”, claiming it infringed on Apple’s visual copyrights… To me the allegation clearly had no merit as I had never intended to copy the Macintosh interface, was never given any directive to do that, and never directed my team to do that.

The similarities between the products were largely due to the fact that both Windows and Macintosh has common ancestors, that being many of the earlier windowing systems such as those like Alto and Star (the latter shown at left) that were created at Xerox PARC. History shows that Jobs in fact visited PARC and hired people from there to join Apple. But Apple’s first graphical-interface computer, the Lisa, failed, and there was a time even in the first year of its launch that it was unclear whether the Macintosh would make it. From my perspective, Microsoft’s support of the Macintosh helped it survive through its most critical time and continues to be a platform the company continues to support. To me, the allegation was almost insulting. If I wanted to copy the Macintosh, I could have done a much better job.

The entire article is well worth a read if you wanna brush up on your Windows history.



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