Priming the Pump:
How TRS-80 Enthusiasts Helped Spark
the PC Revolution


  -- From Chapter Two:
The DOS Wars
     

Fate intervened one day as Pagliarulo worked on a program and discovered that the variable length record feature in BASIC did not work. He traced the error not to BASIC, but to a bug in TRSDOS. He quickly wrote a patch for TRSDOS to fix the problem, but was curious as to what else was wrong with the DOS. He began disassembling it, finding more bugs. Because of their friendship with the manager at the Radio Shack Computer Center, the Micro Systems crew knew that Randy Cook was the author of TRSDOS and they had phone numbers for people at Tandy. One day, Pagliarulo called Fort Worth and asked to speak to Cook, with the intention of providing helpful information about how to fix the bugs in TRSDOS. It took many attempts before actually getting the TRSDOS author on the phone, but finally Steve Pagliarulo found himself talking to Randy Cook. The ensuing conversation was the springboard to a change in plans from selling business software to marketing an operating system.

According to Lautenschlager, Pagliarulo attempted to discuss the bugs with Cook, but got nowhere. Cook blew off Pagliarulo without a thank-you. Cook himself does not recall any such conversation and since he didn’t work in Dallas or directly for Radio Shack, he’s not sure this actually happened.

Pagliarulo, who Lautenschlager describes as a “New York Italian,” had a temper. He did not like the treatment he’d gotten and he was sure Cook’s DOS was full of bugs and that he, Steve Pagliarulo, was the guy to fix them. So he went home full of rage and determination and in one weekend of unrelenting hours at the keyboard, came back with the first version of DOSPlus. Since TRSDOS was at version 2.3, Pagliarulo called his DOS 3.0 as a way to show it was above the level of TRSDOS. This first version was Pagliarulo’s way of proving he could do bug-free programming and trump the Radio Shack product. He never intended it to be a program for sale.

Larry Studdard, the businessman, saw it differently. If his programmers were irritated with the bugs in TRSDOS, wouldn’t other people feel the same way?

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