Currently ATM I'm reading through the "Phoenix Technical Reference Series - System BIOS for IBM PCs, Compatibles, and EISA Computers, 2nd Edition - 1991". It's a period book, meaning it was published in the era I'm interested in. I guess that's the term. And therefore tends to provide firsthand insights rather than a biased history.
While it isn't exactly, precisely, like history textbook.. It, instead, presents history by default. It's history itself, frozen, captured, and bought forward to today. Things that were important in the all-powerful godlike BIOS are explained in the book - if in a rather dry reference format. In one sentence, drumming up support for the BIOS, it can be said that the BIOS was THE defacto standard in enforcing and enabling PC compatibility across the ages. It is the "Force" from StarWars programmed into ROM.
From the book, "By defining the hardware-software interface, the BIOS insured that PC software would be compatible with future generations of PC hardware. This enforced compatibility created a new industry. Because of the BIOS, each generation of PC has been able to maintain a backward compatibility. Its hardware-software interface has allowed each of the PC's components to incorporate the major features of its predecessors."
This is one (of many) reasons why the PC became as popular and widespread as it did. In light of this, all the micros that came before it, including their respective manufacturing companies, seemed like little more than experiments lurching around. Half-zombified, half-aborted attempts at designing something the industry would latch on to. Trying this. Trying that. Oftentimes overcomplexity became a liability rather than an asset - locking customers into one narrow architecture.
Another feature was the PC's XT/ISA bus. It was very similar to the 8088 bus. About as standardized and basic as you could get. Besides standardization of the bus; video, disk I/O, serial & parallel I/O, and other peripherals also had standard interfaces. Thanks to the BIOS.
I see (saw) no way Commodore or Atari or any other deviating platform, no matter how high performance, could compete with the heavy hitters like Compaq, Epson, AST Research, NEC, Hewlett-Packard, NEC, Olivetti, Tandy, Toshiba, Dell, Gateway, Wyse, Zenith Data Systems, and many countless others.. When you have that many major corporations backing a standard you, you can't help but have good things come from it.
Thanks to all and this thread as I've discovered several titles and added them to my summertime reading list.
Edited by Keatah, Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:47 PM.