This article describing the early days of Windows was a very interesting read, and even though I know this part of the computer history pretty well, I did learn a couple of things that I’d like to share.
The first is that after Windows 2.0 came out, Apple sued Microsoft for copying the look and feel of its MacIntosh:
In 1988, Apple decided to sue Microsoft over Windows 2.0’s “look and feel”, claiming it infringed on Apple’s visual copyrights. Having been a principal manager in charge during development of Windows 2.0, I was now caught up in the maelstrom and over the next year I got a thorough education on the US legal process as I briefed the Microsoft legal team, created exhibits for them, and was grilled by deposition by the other side. 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.
Interestingly, the suit ended up being dropped because:
Apple had previously granted a license to Microsoft to use any part the interface included in its applications for the Mac.
I’m guessing a few heads must have rolled in the Apple legal department when they realized that they filed a suit that they had already signed themselves out of.
But the more interesting part comes in the next paragraph:
However, I can recall that within my first year at Microsoft, Gates had acquired a Xerox Star, and encouraged employees to try it out because he thought it exemplified the future of where the PC would be headed and this was long before Microsoft even saw a Mac or even a Lisa from Apple. Gates believed in WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get–i.e. fidelity between the screen and document output) and the value of a graphical user interface as far back as I can remember. And prototypes of Windows existed long before the first appearance of the Macintosh.
Intrigued about the timing, I did some digging and I found out that Gates bought that Xerox Star in 1981:
Among the developers of the Gypsy editor, Larry Tesler left Xerox to join Apple in 1980 and Charles Simonyi left to join Microsoft in 1981 (whereupon Bill Gates spent $100,000 on a Xerox Star and laser printer)
This was just a few months after Steve Jobs himself got his epiphany about graphical user interfaces and the mouse during a visit to Xerox PARC:
In the early 1980s, Jobs was among the first to see the commercial potential of the mouse-driven graphical user interface
This story about Steve Jobs is well known but the fact that just a few months later, Bill Gates himself envisioned the same future of computing is news to me.