[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The Epson QX-10

October 6th, 2014 by Benj Edwards

Epson QX-10 Personal Computer Boss Secretary Pulling Tie CPM advertisement - 1983There’s a madman at the computer!

A fellow donated an Epson QX-10 to my collection some years ago, but I have never run it because I lack the proper monitor cable. This fascinating machine ran the CP/M operating system and came with a full suite of office-centric software tools, called VALDOCS, wrapped in a semi-graphical user interface layer that ran on top of its host OS.

As far as I’ve noticed from my QX-10, one of the coolest things about it is that it has specially engineered low-profile 5.25″ floppy drives. That was a unique thing to have in 1983, and it made the QX-10’s case very dense and compact.

[ From Interface Age – May 1983, p.34]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What do you think the world world be like if CP/M, rather than MS DOS (PC DOS), shipped on the IBM PC in 1981?

7 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The Epson QX-10”

  1. Jistuce Says:

    Mmmm… it’d definitely be a different world, but… in the end, it’d probably be the same story with different names.

    There’d probably be a dominant company everyone loved to hate, an also-ran that everyone loved to love, some weirdo fringe products no one actually USED after they installed them on their toaster… You know, business as usual.

    My two cents. And if I marginalized anyone’s OS of choice… sorry BSD people. But at least you’re more mainstream than plan9, amirite?

  2. Disk Master Says:

    Gary Killdall was a genius.

    It would have been a better world probably.

  3. Luis Mercado Says:

    Gary Killdall would be alive and everyone would, rightly so, love him.

  4. Dar Says:

    There is an interesting interview with Kildall’s friend and “Computer Chronicles” partner Stewart Cheifet on Youtube (with Matt Barton), and I think he was asked about Kildalls’s OS, and Cheifet said that it wasn’t really complete and would not have been able to compete with Microsoft. Something like that I recall.

  5. Moondog Says:

    While it’s obvious to say things would be different, however I doubt they would be drastically different. Gates was contracted to work on the BIOS and early hardware development and testing before an OS had been chosen. DRI had projects going on elsewhere, which not only delayed a working x86 version of CP/M, but also would’ve prevented them from being the first source of business software. Gate’s previous experience with the product allowed MS to be ready to whip out software regardless of OS choice. Let’s not forget he still has DOS priced cheaper than CP/M. Keeping with the license theme, he could produce the same software for CP/M and MS-DOS.

    I also imagine if Gates had less involvement with the PC and compatibles, he might’ve had a tighter partnership with Jobs and Apple. After all, MS was one of the first developers writing software for the Mac. Imagine how different that would be if Gates convinced Jobs into taking on IBM in the business market?

  6. Daniel Says:

    It would be interesting if CP/M would have been the defacto OS on the IBM PC and compatibles. DR GEM vs OS/2 vs Macintosh… OS/2 might have actually won the desktop wars. I know that Digital Research also had a multiuser and multitasking version of CP/M called MP/M. Then again, Microsoft also had their own version of Unix ‘XENIX’ operating system. Maybe XENIX would have competed against CP/M if MS-DOS never existed.

  7. Moondog Says:

    My understanding is OS/2 was IBM’s way of eliminating the licensed OS loophole that allowed PC clone makers to run MS-DOS. In order for OS/2 to exist in this alternate timeline, some sort of breakdown in the IBM/ DRI relationship would have to occur. I imagine Gates wouldn’t have given up on getting IBM’s business, and would’ve been more than helpful in partnering up to make a proprietary OS and develop applications for it.

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