Dave Bradley, “25 Years of the IBM PC”, O’Reilly Media Open Source Conference, 2006/07/28

Although the idea of open source is mostly often associated with software, there’s an alternative view that open source could be hardware.

David Bradley was one of twelve engineers who worked on the original IBM PC, which on the 12th of August 2006 had its 25th anniversary. The machine, which was to sell over three million units, could be considered the first example of an open platform. Published in the IBM PC Technical Reference Manual was everything the engineers knew about the machine, and it was one of the primary reasons for the success of the IBM PC platform.

Everything he needed to know, according to Bradley, he learned from building the IBM PC. Besides learning that only by creating something will you learn from your mistakes, Bradley stresses the need for prototypes in order to convince yourself and management that your ideas are possible. Most importantly however, learn never to underestimate the intelligence of your users – open documentation is a good thing.

Despite their intelligence, Bradley warns never to expect users to be able to count higher than three. His lasting legacy to the world of computing is the infamous control – alt – delete key combination. Six lines of code and five minutes of work made him realise two important lessons about the industry: you can’t predict the future, and remember to always have fun with what you’re doing.

IT Conversations | O’Reilly Media Open Source Conference | Dave Bradley

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David Ing blogs at http://coevolving.com , photoblogs at http://daviding.com , and microblogs at http://ingbrief.wordpress.com . See .

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