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Old 06-10-2014, 08:29 AM   #91
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Originally Posted by astrohip View Post
The universe of people who care or know is limited. I'm fairly computer literate, enough to know the phrase "reverse engineering", but couldn't tell you anything about sine waves. It was fun to watch, more so than I would have thought. The reviews weren't flattering, mostly "meh", but I enjoyed it.

I don't think the technical inaccuracies will matter to any but the 1%.

This exactly. It reminds me of the people who rip apart a sci-fi show because the "sci fi" doesn't make sense. Only those die hards are going to be upset by it, or even care. The idea is to make it dramatic enough for the layman to continue to watch. They figure, they probably GOT that 1% watching anyway.

That said, after watching episode 2, I really don't think the layman is going to be all that interested in this show. There's just very little compelling about it. I think they are trying to do Mad Men, 1980s style using the industry du jour. I just don't think IT techies are as compelling as characters as the Ad guys in Mad Men. I guess with better writing, perhaps they could be, but not in this case.
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Old 06-10-2014, 08:33 AM   #92
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Unfortunately, it was explained too late for my wife to hear. She had already left at that point. In her mind, it was completely gratuitous. I was put off because it immediately set the tone for the show as something that should have been broadcast on Skinemax and not AMC. This was supposed to be a show about computer geeks and not people screwing in the broom closet, regardless of the bearing on the plot.

The writers took the easy way out to set up the relationship rather than think it through and write something more intelligent. Then again, they didn't put a lot of thought into the technical accuracy of the rest of the story so I shouldn't be all that surprised.

In any case, I hope they got that out of their system and can now concentrate on developing a story with some semblance of intelligent forethought.
Skinemax, really? it was pretty tame for Skinemax. Actually it wasn't all that hot. I've seen much hotter sex scenes on other basic cable shows. What bummed me about it, was that I just didn't think there was chemistry between the characters, at least THAT fast to warrant a sex scene at that point. They took for a couple of minutes and boom!! Broom closet.
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Old 06-10-2014, 09:49 AM   #93
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Originally Posted by astrohip View Post
The universe of people who care or know is limited. I'm fairly computer literate, enough to know the phrase "reverse engineering", but couldn't tell you anything about sine waves. It was fun to watch, more so than I would have thought. The reviews weren't flattering, mostly "meh", but I enjoyed it.

I don't think the technical inaccuracies will matter to any but the 1%....
Exactly...I posted something similar in the episode thread...
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Old 06-10-2014, 07:54 PM   #94
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I haven't watched the show, so this is only based on the comments I see here... (And thus may be off base..)

But the original IBM PC came with a Technical Reference Manual, which contained a printout of the entire BIOS source in assembly..... So, what exactly were they having to reverse engineer?
Not only that, but it also included schematic and logic diagrams of all the boards and interfaces in the computer.

For those who are interested, here is a link to the original IBM PC Technical Reference Manual from 1981. This plus the DOS Technical Reference Manual were must haves for any programming PCs back in the day.
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Old 06-10-2014, 09:08 PM   #95
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But the original IBM PC came with a Technical Reference Manual, which contained a printout of the entire BIOS source in assembly..... So, what exactly were they having to reverse engineer?
I thought this was explained in other posts.. but maybe not.

The reverse engineering part is making a copy of the BIOS _without_ literally copying it. Reverse engineering, as in from a "black box" perspective (you don't look inside), so the inputs/outputs of the original and the copy work the same.

A way to make a new BIOS that is binary compatible (as much as possible) with the original BIOS, without actually copying it and thus committing copyright infringement.

This show is (my term) "inspired" by real world events that lead to the proliferation of IBM PC clones.
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Old 06-10-2014, 10:15 PM   #96
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The reverse engineering part is making a copy of the BIOS _without_ literally copying it. Reverse engineering, as in from a "black box" perspective (you don't look inside), so the inputs/outputs of the original and the copy work the same.
But when the stuff you're "disassembling" is available already, you don't need to do the rigamarole they did on the show. You have one team study that code in the IBM technical reference manual to an inch of its life. That team writes a spec that describes how it works. Then the team throws only that spec over the "Chinese wall", AKA the "clean room", and another team writes a functionally identical program based only on that spec.

It is neither necessary or sufficient to do any of that, but if you do, it makes defense against copyright infringement much much easier if you can say your actual code writers never looked at the original code.

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Old 06-12-2014, 09:43 PM   #97
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The biggest LOL to me was that in the 1980s we had RED LEDs. That's all. No White, No Blue. IIRC, Green LEDs came early on. When I once asked about a white LED I was looked at like I was total maroon, "And it gives off WHITE light?" HAW!"

And they were relatively expensive, too.
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Old 06-12-2014, 09:55 PM   #98
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The biggest LOL to me was that in the 1980s we had RED LEDs. That's all. No White, No Blue. IIRC, Green LEDs came early on. When I once asked about a white LED I was looked at like I was total maroon, "And it gives off WHITE light?" HAW!" And they were relatively expensive, too.
We've had the cheap low-power green and amber ones for a long time. I have some early 1960s equipment with green LEDs.

Blue was the major breakthrough.
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Old 06-12-2014, 11:49 PM   #99
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They mention using an 80186 CPU, but the flags register map that Cameron wrote on the white board included fields introduced with 80286. Either chip would be in the correct time frame.

So apparently it's not just computers that halt and catch fire.
The first IBM PC used the 8086. The 286 IBM PC was the IBM PC AT.
...and I can't believe that I remember this stuff.

Trivia: There was never an IBM PC with the 80386 chip. Dell, Compaq and others made 386 PC Compatibles, but IBM didn't. IBM Computers with 386 and later had the EISA bus and were called Model 25, Model 35(?) etc.
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Old 06-13-2014, 12:14 AM   #100
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The first IBM PC used the 8086.
The first IBM PC used the 8088 chip, not the 8086. The 8088 had essentially the same instruction set but had an eight bit data path while the 8086 chip had a sixteen bit data path. This made the system slower but cheaper to manufacture and more compatible with existing eight bit interface hardware.
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Old 06-13-2014, 09:24 AM   #101
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The first IBM PC used the 8088 chip, not the 8086. The 8088 had essentially the same instruction set but had an eight bit data path while the 8086 chip had a sixteen bit data path. This made the system slower but cheaper to manufacture and more compatible with existing eight bit interface hardware.
The IBM PC/XT also used the 8088 processor until 1986 when the IBM PC/XT Model 286 was released with an 80286 processor and 80287 coprocessor.

I also found an interesting book written by the founder of Phoenix Technologies back in 1989 which talks about the birth of the IBM clone.

From the book which can be found here:
Quote:
I founded Phoenix in 1979 as a supplier of programmers' tools to support the DOS standard. We were successful, but not a phenomenon until we broke through with the PC ROM BIOS in May 1984. It proved to be the missing link for manufacturers to build systems that were 100 percent compatible with the IBM PC and, just as important, 100 percent legal.

Our "clean room" methodology was responsible. "Contaminated" engineers studied the BIOS' functionality and passed on those functions to "virgin" engineers, who had never seen the BIOS and who then wrote the code that would accomplish specific tasks. I am proud to say the Phoenix ROM BIOS was one of the keys that unlocked the PC market and enabled it to grow to its present proportions.
So the methodology dictated in the show appears to be accurate.
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Old 06-13-2014, 10:04 AM   #102
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I seem to recall generic PC clones (and maybe even brand name ones??) that used the Phoenix BIOS. Cool to hear a little bit about the backstory on how that came about.
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Old 06-13-2014, 10:43 AM   #103
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...So the methodology dictated in the show appears to be accurate.
That's exactly the process that was required to be legal but the show isn't illustrating it correctly.

Other than no disassembly being required as above, in the real process Gordon would never be allowed to even know about Blondie who was going to write the BIOS to meet his specs. No way they stand in the same room.

That was why the company's lawyer asked her those questions about what she has done and what she knew.

BTW, in spite of doing this perfectly IBM will sue them into the next galaxy. IBM lost.
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Old 06-13-2014, 04:37 PM   #104
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Trivia: There was never an IBM PC with the 80386 chip. Dell, Compaq and others made 386 PC Compatibles, but IBM didn't. IBM Computers with 386 and later had the EISA bus and were called Model 25, Model 35(?) etc.
IBM's entry into the 80386 space was with their PS/2 line in 1987, which introduced the (heavily protected / patented) MicroChannel Architecture (MCA) bus. It was IBM's licensing terms ($$) that got the "Gang of Nine" PC companies together to form the EISA consortium (and the bus design - the Extended Industry Standard Architecture) to compete with IBM. That was the split that ended IBM's "control" over the PC architecture, as MCA was rarely adopted outside of IBM, and EISA-based systems took over the high-end PC / server space. EISA was followed by an industry-designed PCI bus in the mid-90's...

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Old 06-13-2014, 09:20 PM   #105
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The biggest LOL to me was that in the 1980s we had RED LEDs. That's all. No White, No Blue. IIRC, Green LEDs came early on. When I once asked about a white LED I was looked at like I was total maroon, "And it gives off WHITE light?" HAW!"
I know someone else already said it, but I remember at the West Coast Computer Faire, I went in the early-mid 1980s, and one of the freebies was goldfish jars of LEDs for people to take a handful of.. and I'm fairly certain there were ones besides red.
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Old 06-13-2014, 11:55 PM   #106
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The first IBM PC used the 8086. The 286 IBM PC was the IBM PC AT.
...and I can't believe that I remember this stuff.

Trivia: There was never an IBM PC with the 80386 chip. Dell, Compaq and others made 386 PC Compatibles, but IBM didn't. IBM Computers with 386 and later had the EISA bus and were called Model 25, Model 35(?) etc.
You're not remembering it completely accurately. The IBM PS/2 line used the proprietary Micro Channel bus. The EISA bus was an industry extension to the ISA bus used by everyone except IBM.

Also, of the PS/2 models introduced, the 30 was an 8086, the 50 and 60 were 80286 and only the two 80 models were 80386 based designs.
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Old 06-14-2014, 12:03 AM   #107
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Also, of the PS/2 models introduced, the 30 was an 8086, the 50 and 60 were 80286 and only the two 80 models were 80386 based designs.
Actually the PS/2 Models 35 and 40 was 80386 based, and used an EISA bus. And at the very least the 55's and 70's were 80386 based as well (MCA)

(Unless we're drawing lines between the 80386, the 80386SX+80387SX coprocessor combination, and the 80386DXs)

(The PS/2 Model 25s and 30s were EISA as well. though not in any way 386 based).
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Old 06-14-2014, 07:14 AM   #108
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Okay so I have some questions -

Why did cameron and gordon have to be in seperate rooms?

At the end when Joe said the whole thing about portablity - was this the beginning of a thought about laptops?

And the IBM blue book - was that something Gordon and Joe did in the garage and shouldn't have done or did IBM give that to them and say if you open this your done.
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Old 06-14-2014, 07:15 AM   #109
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For what's it's worth - I don't know much at all about the hardware or code or software development, but I am enjoying the interplay of the characters.
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Old 06-14-2014, 09:23 AM   #110
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IBM's entry into the 80386 space was with their PS/2 line in 1987, which introduced the (heavily protected / patented) MicroChannel Architecture (MCA) bus. It was IBM's licensing terms ($$) that got the "Gang of Nine" PC companies together to form the EISA consortium (and the bus design - the Extended Industry Standard Architecture) to compete with IBM. That was the split that ended IBM's "control" over the PC architecture, as MCA was rarely adopted outside of IBM, and EISA-based systems took over the high-end PC / server space. EISA was followed by an industry-designed PCI bus in the mid-90's...

Jeff
Oh, yeah. Now I remember why there was no 386 "IBM PC" even though there were millions of "clones." The Model 25 and up where the PS/2.

As you say, with the patented MCA bus IBM prevented any PS/2 clones. They also prevented any 2nd party MCA peripherals.

I worked at US Robotics, which did sink tons of money in licensing and manufacturing MCA bus modem. They had a warehouse full of them....and fired the executive who did the market research and advocated that making PS/2 modems was a great idea.
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Old 06-14-2014, 09:29 AM   #111
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Okay so I have some questions -

Why did cameron and gordon have to be in seperate rooms?

At the end when Joe said the whole thing about portablity - was this the beginning of a thought about laptops?

...
I haven't even watched yet and can tell you. Gordon was "contaminated" by having seen the actual IBM BIOS and source code. That's why I say that those two could never be in the same room, or city, for that matter.

The original Compaq PC was a luggable "portable" like the Osborne 1 with a built-in 9" (7"?) CRT (think television) monitor and was the first portable PC compatible, although the idea was certainly obvious. Compaq didn't make desktop PCs until a few years later.

Luggable being that the Osborne 1 was ~27 pounds and IIRC the Compaq was about the same. Imagine that today when we we have 2 pound laptops and 12 ounce tablets.
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Old 06-14-2014, 09:31 AM   #112
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Beard guy is so boring and then they gave him a brown and yellow kitchen to make him even more boring.
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Old 06-14-2014, 09:58 AM   #113
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Beard guy is so boring and then they gave him a brown and yellow kitchen to make him even more boring.
Back then kitchens were brown, yellow or olive green.
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Old 06-14-2014, 11:22 AM   #114
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Okay so I have some questions - Why did cameron and gordon have to be in seperate rooms?
Because Gordon was involved in extracting the BIOS info directly from the IBM equipment, so if he was involved in creating Cardiff's BIOS, IBM would be able to claim copyright infringement. But if they can claim that Cameron created a new BIOS without ever seeing the extracted IBM BIOS, then they have a defense to an infringement claim.

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At the end when Joe said the whole thing about portablity - was this the beginning of a thought about laptops?
This was long before laptops. This was when you had a machine that was basically the size of a suitcase and the front folded open to reveal a keyboard and a tiny little monochrome screen.



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And the IBM blue book - was that something Gordon and Joe did in the garage and shouldn't have done or did IBM give that to them and say if you open this your done.
That was the results of the reverse engineering that Joe and Gordon did. So in order for Cardiff to claim that Cameron made her BIOS on her own, she can't look at that code.
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Old 06-14-2014, 12:05 PM   #115
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Back then kitchens were brown, yellow or olive green.
*cough* Coppertone, Harvest Gold, or Avocado,
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Old 06-14-2014, 01:47 PM   #116
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*cough* Coppertone, Harvest Gold, or Avocado,
That's what I said. Brown, yellow or olive green.
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Old 06-15-2014, 08:55 PM   #117
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Ok, I pretty much just scrolled through the last dozen or so posts without reading them, but I read enough to know that I'm just going to go on and enjoy the show and not bother to read any of the threads. I pretty much figured for this show the threads would be a lot of 'this isn't right, that isn't right' about the technical stuff, and I'm just not interested in any of that.

I may stop into a thread if something crazy happens just to see what the buzz is, but aside from that I'll just stick to the show.
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Old 06-16-2014, 12:26 AM   #118
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I know someone else already said it, but I remember at the West Coast Computer Faire, I went in the early-mid 1980s, and one of the freebies was goldfish jars of LEDs for people to take a handful of.. and I'm fairly certain there were ones besides red.
Blue LEDs are a 90's invention. White LEDs are a late 90's, early nauties.

The 80s have red, yellow and green LEDs. Though, the "green" was a rather sickly yellow-green color - the greens improved through the late 80s and the really nice deep greens were early 90s. I remember playing with a bunch of these LEDs back then. (And the original IBM PC was released in 1981, so reverse engineering happened far later).

Back in the 70s, red LEDs were standard. But the 80s had red, yellow and green, and even Radio Shack were selling them in those colors. Basically we've been marching down the wavelengths (up the frequency) - the first LEDs were IR/Red, then we had yellows, sickly green ones, then nice green ones, followed by blue ones, violet and ultra-violets. Once we had Blue/UV, we got whites - first through RGB arrays, then later through phosphor.

Oh yeah, the other thing is, the late 90s and nauties have been spent making LEDs more efficient and brighter - in the beginning, LEDs were only good for indicators and they could easily wash out in sunlight (i.e., dim!), but their brightness improved through the years to where we can light our homes with single LEDs.
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Old 06-16-2014, 01:15 AM   #119
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Actually the PS/2 Models 35 and 40 was 80386 based, and used an EISA bus. And at the very least the 55's and 70's were 80386 based as well (MCA)

(Unless we're drawing lines between the 80386, the 80386SX+80387SX coprocessor combination, and the 80386DXs)

(The PS/2 Model 25s and 30s were EISA as well. though not in any way 386 based).
None of the PS/2's at that time were EISA. The 25 (and the 30?) were "ISA" only - same as the PC/AT - which made them the odd stepchild without the new MCA bus of the rest of the PS/2 line. IBM didn't add EISA slots until they threw in the towel on MCA in the mid-90's. And by then PCI was about to take over anyway.
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Old 06-16-2014, 05:10 AM   #120
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....I pretty much figured for this show the threads would be a lot of 'this isn't right, that isn't right' about the technical stuff, and I'm just not interested in any of that.....
This.....soooo much this....
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