About the Wang '669 patent

From: Pete Turnbull <pete_at_dunnington.u-net.com>
Date: Fri Apr 24 22:46:26 1998

On Apr 24, 21:50, Doug Yowza wrote:
> Subject: About the Wang '669 patent
> On Fri, 24 Apr 1998, Zane H. Healy wrote:
> > If you haven't seen the news yet, I found out thanks to
> > , Microsoft is pulling one of their dirtiest stunts ever in their
> > to destroy Netscape. If anyone doesn't think Microsoft is evil this
> > convince them, unless they are niave enough to think Microsoft isn't
> > this!
> What makes you think the Evil Empire is behind this? Did Microsoft buy
> Wang recently? If not, they'll get hit with the same suit.

They "formed a partnership" which, amongst other things, involved the
exchange of some $90,000,000.

> It sounds like the Wang patent basically covers rendering formatted
> information on a terminal that was acquired via a remote connection. So,
> what was the closest thing to a Web browser before 1993? GRiD fan that I
> am, I vote for the 1982 GRiD/OS and remote GRiDCentral. GRiD/OS had a
> form and menu based OS interface and actions were based on the file type
> and extension. GRiDCentral (and the LAN-based GRiDServer) basically
> distributed this menu-based filesystem over a remote connection.

The Wang patent relates to videotex terminals, exactly the stuff that
British Telecom developed in the 1970s and pushed hard (as PRESTEL) in the
early 80s. Prestel was organised a little like an ISP, with various "IP"s
(information providers) renting space in which they creating "frames" of
text and (chunky) graphics which were accessible by modem. IPs could
sublet space, too, so individuals could rent just a single frame if they

In 1982 PRESTEL launched a service called Micronet800, which used thousands
of pages on PRESTEL servers to store microcomputer related news, software,
etc, and started selling software to enable home micros to dial up and
display/load/save these pages. Actually, stuff for micros had been around
on PRESTEL before that, but spring 1982 was when it took off. I got my
software and modem that summer. Most of the modems were simple devices
built in to an acoustic coupler, fondly known as agnostic complicators.

PRESTEL itself didn't make use of file extensions, but obviously some of
the micro systesm that accessed it did. CP/M has always based certain
actions on file types and extensions, for example. It did use menus of
links, and the links between frames, could be quite arbitrary (and
tangled!) just like the web. There was even a command to go back one or
more frames, and there were "response" frames and a mail system and ...

Pete						Peter Turnbull
						Dept. of Computer Science
						University of York
Received on Fri Apr 24 1998 - 22:46:26 BST

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