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Amdahl Recollection

gene-amdahlOn 11/13/2015 the NY Times printed the obituary of Eugene Amdahl, which prompted this recollection of him. His revolutionary attack on IBM with plug-compatible high-end computers  occurred at the time I was most involved in industry forecasting for AD Little. One result was a consulting assignment from Fujitsu of Japan, which was considering funding Amdahl.  IBM had put all its software "in the public domain" in response to an antitrust suit, meaning that anyone could do anything with it. Fujitsu management couldn’t believe IBM would give away its operating systems, so they posed a set of "what if" questions to me as a consultant, such as "what would IBM do if someone modified the IBM OS," or "what would IBM do if someone sold the IBM OS?" The answer, according to the legal definition of "in the public domain," was in all cases "nothing." So I obtained a legal opinion to that effect and very simply sent a copy of the questions to IBM Consultant Relations (not identifying my client).  I then visited IBM, and verified that the answer to all questions was "IBM would do nothing." Fujitsu then invested in Amdahl and made a lot of money. Frederic Withington 11/13/2015

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