CP/M Porting



My first official job after graduating from The University of Pennsylvania’s Moore School of Electrical Engineering was for Lifeboat Associates (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lifeboat_Associates)

Lifeboat has a storied history in the tech world. It was the marketing and fulfillment arm of the Hobbyists. Indeed, Bill Gates made most of his cash from Microsoft Basic through Lifeboat. He was often there; my boss was his very good friend.

Lifeboat would publish advertisements in newly formed magazines selling the Hobbyist’s work. Most of these applications ran under the then-dominant CP/M operating system. Lifeboat staffed phones to take orders, then copied diskettes and shipped the software in many floppy disk formats.

To increase market reach by allowing the software to run on the exploding set of machines with Z80 processors, Lifeboat was the main ‘porter’ of CP/M to these machines. Indeed, all the manufacturers sent us machines to get CP/M live on their devices, which included such things as stand-alone word-processing terminals that just happened to have been manufactured with Z80 CPUs. I did all this porting and was the number one ‘CP/M port’ person in the world.

When Bill bought CP/M, he offered me a job, which would have been like employee #20. Silly me, I turned him down.

Someone recently got CP/M running on a tiny chip: https://blog.adafruit.com/2022/11/15/the-smallest-cp-m-microcomputer-ever-cpm-vintagecomputing-raspberrypi-hascksterio-raspberry_pi/