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Tandy Radio Shack

Karl Bullock remembers:
I was a Radio Shack store manager back when the Model 16 (and later ther 6000) came out.  We had sold a number of these machines to a local business for use in their convenience stores.  When Tandy released the Model 16, they bundled a new version of TRSDOS with it - TRSDOS16 - and advertised this as their next generation OS.  Later versions of TRSDOS16 were to include multiuser/multitasking capabilities, but the initial version was single-user only.  They also released some software development tools.

When the programmer for our local business demanded to know when the multi-user system would be out, I found that information was unavailable.  "Soon" was all the answer I could get.  Finally, my customer called John Roach, then President of Tandy, directly and demanded a copy of whatever they had, or there'd be a lawsuit.  I received a call from Tandy HQ informing me that a pre-release version of the new OS would be shipped to my store, and I was to follow certain procedures (have some paperwork signed) before giving the OS to my customer.

When the package arrived, it was not TRSDOS16, but Xenix.  The story goes that the Tandy software people couldn't get the multi-user software working, so they made a call to the then-unknown Bill Gates and bought his port of Unix to the 68000.  Inadvertently, I sold one of the first versions of Xenix to my customer.  Soon thereafter, the rest of the world was informed of the change, and the rest, as they say, is history.  All this before IBM ever heard of Bill Gates.  I always wondered what kind of deal Bill made with Tandy.

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