Consolidation has always been a significant force in computer technology for a variety of reasons. It has also been something mythologized to promote the winners as visionary geniuses, even when someone else had the brilliant idea.

One such story: Microsoft would sell a personal computer operating system to IBM, kickstarting the former’s path to economic glory. First, the mother of Bill Gates, who knew the then-chairman of IBM through mutual charity work, made the introduction. IBM wanted an operating system. Gates, co-founder Paul Allen, and others at the startup said, “No problem,” and then bought from Seattle Computer Systems what would become MS-DOS and ship on all of IBM’s desktop computers.

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Erik Sherman


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