• by Ian Matthews
  • November 19, 2018
  • 0 Comments

Bill Godbout: Master Maverick of Early Microcomputers 18 Nov 2018

Silicon Valley legend dies in (California) firestorm that has killed scores while more than 1,000 are missing

Obit Bill Godbout, a maverick techie who played a pivotal role in getting computers into the hands of the masses, was killed this week in California’s wildfires. He was aged 79.

Godbout was a key figure in the personal computing revolution in the 1970s, at least in the US. Around the time Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were dumpster diving for manuals, source code, and documentation for their computer projects, Godbout was selling the parts for hobbyists to build their own computers at a price most could afford. He manufactured S-100-compatible cards, S-100 being the first industry standard expansion bus for microcomputers.

…”He was definitely a very respected part of the early PC industry. He often visited Gary Kildall of CP/M Digital Research fame by flying his plane to see him in Monterey,” a former employee told The Register.

“I think they talked about ways to compete with Bill Gates and IBM. He was at the same level as those famous guys in many ways, and he and his team made a lot of very good hardware to run the software of that time.”

It is believed Kildall was actually out and about flying with Godbout right when IBM called Kildall’s home to see if Big Blue could visit Digital Research to discuss a potential deal – both Godbout and Kildall were keen pilots and would meet “at your plane or mine.” IBM staff said they required a non-disclosure agreement be signed before any discussions could take place.

Kildall’s wife Dorothy, who handled contract negotiations for Digital, decided against signing the draconian NDA without Gary’s consent, on advice from Digital’s lawyer. Gary returned later to set up a meeting with IBM, and the rest is Microsoft history…

…The inferno moved with terrifying speed, and it appears Godbout either didn’t get the warning alerts or was overcome before he could escape the conflagration. So far more than 75 people are known to have died from the US state’s wildfires this month, more than 1,300 are missing or unaccounted for. The smoke from the fires has made San Francisco the most polluted city in the world…

SOURCE and MUCH Longer Version: theregister.co.uk/2018/11/18/bill_godbout_obituary


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