Digital Research
The 07-21-91 Summary

How the Novell buyout of Digital Research started.

The idea that sparked the Novell - DRI buyout came from a little known programmer from a little known company in Springfield Missouri. Marc Perkel, programmer, and owner of Computer Tyme was the source of the idea that will become one of the biggest deals in the history of the computer industry.

The impetus for the idea came from my frustration with the computer industry shifting towards perceiving Windows as the future of the computing industry. I bought a copy of it shortly after it came out and was initially impressed with it. I especially liked the Solitaire game. It ran many of my DOS applications reasonably well, but not well enough to use on a regular basis.

At first there were no programming languages for Windows that I considered suitable for my needs. Rumor had it that Borland was developing Turbo Pascal for Windows and since most of my cope was in Turbo Pascal, I though I'd just wait for Turbo Pascal for Windows and I'd have Windows versions of my software.

Little did I know that wasn't the case. When I got Turbo Pascal for Windows, I realized that it was almost totally incompatible with Turbo Pascal for DOS. I was not only faced with rewriting all my software from scratch but re-learning how to program. And, I would have to become and artist on top of that!

Not only that, but if I did produce a windows version of my MarxMenu program, I would spend all my time supporting Windows. Windows is a very unstable environment and it would make my software look bad.

My perception was that the computer industry was seriously diverging from reality. Windows was not only unstable, but I considered it fatally flawed by design. It not only didn't work, but couldn't be fixed. And Windows was incapable of supporting applications of the future. But if the industry switched to Windows, I would be forced to write Windows applications and spend my life putting out fires in Hell.

This was totally unacceptable. But what was I to do? The only solution was to put the computer industry back on the right track. But how was I to do that?

First I had to analyze the cause of the problem. Microsoft considered DOS dead and that Windows was the future. Who was in a position to put the life back into DOS? Ray Noorda!

Novell was in a unique position in that it had enough reputation to pull it off. Novell also has experience in connection to almost any OS made. They also had Ray Noorda who is one of the sharpest people in the industry.

I also knew Ray. We had talked at a few shows before. I knew he was going to be at Networld Boston in Feb '91 and I set out to hunt him down and convince him to get into the DOS market.

I finally caught up with him as he was coming out of a conference room where he and IBM had just announced their new deal. That's when I laid it on him.

The thing that impresses me about Ray is that when you make sense, he understands it. I laid out a well though out plan on how he could take the DOS market away from Microsoft and he got very excited. It was obvious to him that my idea was right on the mark. He took me over to meet Jim Bills (another very sharp individual) and we discussed it for about an hour.

Ray asked me to write a specification for the new OS. I suggested that I leak the idea as a way of getting feedback from the public. I got and indication that I interpreted as yes. This is where the NovOS rumors came from that have appeared in the gossip sections.

The weekend after Networld I wrote of the NovOS specification (NovOS is the name I gave the new OS), and sent it to 6 Novell officials.

Since then, the feedback I've gotten is that they are still interested but have been very busy (with the IBM deal). They have had someone call me every two weeks and let me know it's not forgotten.

As of today, 07-21-91 I have no agreements with Novell. I am under no nondisclosure contracts and can say anything I please.

I was not in on the DRI buyout and only found out about it after it occurred. I am not yet aware why I was not involved.

I am fully convinced that Novell would not be in the DOS market if not for my talking them into it.


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